Anointing of the Sick

  • Anointing of the Sick is one of the seven sacraments for the physical healing of the seriously ill and people facing surgery.  It offers us grace to strengthen our faith and our ability to accept and endure the trials, challenges, and struggles that come with serious illness and surgery.  One should not wait until death is imminent to receive the sacrament.

    The sacrament is the Anointing of the Sick, not the "anointing of the dying."  Before the Second Vatican Council, it was known as Extreme Unction or Last Rites.  By definition, it should be administered as soon as serious illness is detected or diagnosed.

    Serious illness and surgery can be scary, especially if it is life-threatening.  The sacrament gives us special grace to strengthen our faith, to trust in the saving power of God, and to turn our sufferings and trials over to the Lord.

    The Anointing of the Sick forgives the sins.  If the ill person is aware of any grave or mortal sin that has not been previously confessed, he or she should first ask the priest for the Sacrament of Reconciliation if he is physically and emotionally able and then be anointed.  If the person being anointed is unable to first confess his sins (for example, if he is unconscious), the sacrament will forgive even grave or mortal sins.

    To receive the Anointing of the Sick, a baptized Catholic must have a serious illness or be susceptible to serious illness due to advanced age and have attained the age of reason (considered to be seven years of age).

    “Seriously ill” means that one has an illness that is serious enough that it could potentially cause death.  This is broadly interpreted, within reason.  Some examples:

    • Those undergoing major surgery with general anesthesia.
    • Those diagnosed with a serious, potentially life-threatening illness.  Today many illnesses such as cancer can be put into remission or completely cured with surgery or treatment. Even when the prognosis is good, however, anyone who suffers from cancer, heart disease, or chronic illnesses (such as Parkinson's) can and should be anointed.
    • Those whose general health has been weakened due to advanced age can be susceptible ton sudden life-threatening illness. Those persons who have reached this age may be anointed. They also might be anointed for illness that would not normally be considered life-threatening. For an elderly person with a weakened immune system, the flu can be a serious illness.
    • Those with serious psychological illness or depression that is potentially life-threatening may also request the sacrament.

    The sacrament can be repeated in certain instances.  One can be anointed multiple times due to different illnesses.  One can also be anointed a second time for the same illness if there is a significant change for the worse or reoccurrence after a period of remission.

    The sacrament is administered to a person by the priest.  Family members, friends, caregivers, or others may also be present.  However, it is appropriate that the faithful be present when one or more people receive the Anointing of the Sick to join the sick person, the minister, and the Church in prayer.  A communal anointing service is a prayer service done either within or outside of Mass
    where those who are seriously ill can come together with the Church as a whole to receive the Anointing of the Sick.

    To arrange for the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick for yourself, a family member, or friend, contact the rectory to speak with the pastor.

    The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick will be available to all in need after the 4 p.m. Mass on the Saturday preceding the first Sunday of the month.