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Anointing of the Sick

This Sacrament is administered to bring spiritual and even physical strength during time of illness and especially at the time of death. The Catechism notes: “This sacred anointing of the sick was instituted by Christ our Lord as a true and proper sacrament of the New Testament. It is alluded to indeed by Mark, but is recommended to the faithful and promulgated by James the apostle and brother of the Lord” (CCC 1511; Mark 6:13; Jas. 5:14-15).

Anointing of the Sick conveys through the working of the Holy Spirit a strengthening of the body and soul. It gives grace and supernatural help against anxiety, discouragement and temptation. St Mark refers to the sacrament when he relates how Jesus sent the Twelve to mission: “they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them.” (Mark 6:13). St James writes, “Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” (Jas. 5:14-15).

Along with this Sacrament is sometimes the gift of Viaticum. In Latin, Viaticum means “food for the journey”. Viaticum has been valued by Christians since the beginning of Church history. The first ecumenical council, held at Nicaea in 325, decreed: “Concerning the departing, the ancient canonical law is still to be maintained, to wit, that, if any man be at the point of death, he must not be deprived of the last and most indispensable Viaticum” (canon 13). Having repented of our sins and received reconciliation, we travel with the Lord Jesus out of this earthly life and to eternal happiness with him in heaven.

From the earliest times, the sacrament of the anointing of the sick was cherished among Christians, not only in immediate danger of death, but even at the beginning sign of danger from illness or old age. A sermon of Caesar of Arles (ca. A.D. 470-542) contains the following: “As often as some infirmity overtakes a man, let him who is ill receive the body and blood of Christ; let him humbly and in faith ask the presbyters for blessed oil, to anoint his body, so that what was written may be fulfilled in him: ‘Is anyone among you sick? Let him bring in the presbyters, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he be in sins, they will be forgiven him… See to it, brethren, that whoever is ill hasten to the church, both that he may receive health of body and will merit to obtain the forgiveness of his sins” (Sermons 13[325]:3).

This Sacrament is a great comfort and a true help when we are seriously ill, preparing for a serious operation or at point of death. It is perhaps the last time that a Christian receives the Most Holy Body of Jesus Christ having repented of sins and received absolution. There is no finer way to approach judgment and the Kingdom of Heaven.

 

At the start of seriously impaired health due to sickness or old age, or before major surgery, or in case of a medical emergency FOR THE SICK, DYING, DEATH, please do not hesitate to call the EMERGENCY NUMBER ONLY 714-953-7024