Sacrament of the Sick
(Healing Gateways of the Soul)
Peace be to you.
Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.
Shakespeare speaks of the ills the flesh is heir to. (Hamlet, ACT III, Scene 1)
It is of those ills and sicknesses that we speak in the sacrament of extreme unction.
- The sacrament could also be called the sacrament of the anointing of the sick.
First of all, as regards sickness itself.
It does many things to us not only physically but also psychologically.
- First of all, it cuts us off from any occasion of sin. The will to sin is certainly weakened by physical infirmity. Then, too, sickness also manifests the uniqueness of our personality.
We begin to realize that I am I.
Self is confronted with self.
- The soul sees itself as it really is. Sickness breaks the spell that pleasure is everything, that we ought to go on building bigger and bigger barns, and that life is worthless unless there is a thrill in it.
- It enables us also to readjust our sense of values. We begin to understand the words of our Lord, “What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his immortal soul?” (Matthew 16:26)
Then, too, it can end in death.
There is a world of difference between the way the pagan faces death and the way the Christian does.
- The pagan fears the loss of the body,
- the Christian fears the loss of the soul.
To the Christian, the physical life and the world are not everything. This world is only a scaffolding to Him. It is a scaffolding up through which souls climb to the Kingdom of Heaven, and when the last soul shall have climbed up through it, then it shall be torn down and burnt with fervent fire, not because it is base but simply because it has done its work.
And there is another difference between the pagan and the Christian as regards death.
- The Christian never feels that his whole being is threatened by death;
- the pagan does. The pagan is always moving forward toward death, moving forward toward it, as if he were walking toward an abyss.
- The Christian is walking backwards from death. Well, how does he walk backwards? Because he starts with that fact:
Someday I am going to die. Someday I must render an account of my stewardship. Knowing that I will die, I now prepare my life so that it may enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The worst thing, therefore, that can happen to a Christian is not death.
The greatest tragedy is not to have loved enough.
There is no need of laboring these points. Sickness is very obvious, too obvious, indeed. Our Lord was very much concerned about it.
Background of the sacrament that He instituted
Now let us study the background of the sacrament that He instituted, the sacrament of the anointing of the sick.
Many of the prophecies that were told about our Blessed Lord revealed and heralded Him as the healer of the sick. In countless places in the New Testament, we read such phrases as these. (I am quoting.) “Jesus went about preaching and teaching the kingdom of God and curing every kind of disease and infirmity.” (Matthew 4:23)
And again, we read in Luke, when our Blessed Lord was at Genesseret, the scripture states, “And they began bringing the sick to Him, beds and all, wherever they heard He was, and they begged Him to let them touch even the hem of His cloak. And all that touched Him recovered.” (Mark 6:56)
Like the Syro-Phoenician woman, remember, she said, “If I but touch the hem of His garment, I shall be healed.” (Mark 5:28)
- The gospel does not tell us all the miracles of healing. But St. John ends up his gospel by saying that if he had written down all of the miracles that our Blessed Lord had worked, the world would not be large enough to contain the books thereof. (John 21:25)
The point is, therefore, that our Blessed Lord, as the Son of God made man, had the power to heal the sick.
Now we come to the second point.
He communicated that power to the apostles.
After the resurrection, our Blessed Lord sent his apostles into the world, and here I am quoting the Gospel of Mark where our Blessed Lord said to His apostles, “Lay hands upon the sick and make them recover.” (Mark 16:18)
And again, in the Gospel of Luke, we read, concerning the apostles, and this is a quotation: “They worked cures everywhere.” (Luke 9:6)
How did our Lord communicate this power, how did He tell His apostles to cure?
He told them to do so by using oil because the gospel tells us, “And they anointed with oil many sick people and healed them.” (Mark 6:13)
- Our Blessed Lord instituted the sacrament of the healing of the sick or what is called extreme unction and passed it on to His Church. And we find that the early Church was using the sacrament just as we use it now.
St. James, one of the apostles, writing in his epistle, speaks of this sacrament that had been instituted by our Lord. And he says, “Is one of you sick? Let him send for a priest of the church, let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the Lord’s name. Prayer offered in faith will restore the sick man and the Lord will give him relief. If he is guilty of sins, they will be pardoned.”
That is the earliest description that we have of the sacrament of the anointing of the sick.
- Now notice that our Blessed Lord told His apostles to use oil. Just as our Lord in other sacraments used bread and water, so in this He uses oil because naturally oil was used to strengthen the body. Athletes very often would rub their bodies with oil, and our Lord, therefore, used it as the matter of the sacrament.
Where does this oil come from?
It is blessed by the Bishop on Holy Thursday. There are three kinds of oils that are blessed on that day. Now this oil for the sacrament, this particular sacrament, is distributed to various parishes, and during the year the priests anoint the sick with that oil. When the Bishop blesses and consecrates these oils, he says this particular prayer over the oil that is used in this sacrament.
“With this heavenly anointing let none be medicined but that he shall find protection within and without. Gone all pain and sickness, gone every ailment of soul and body.”
Should there not be a sacrament for the sick, just as there is for the wounded?
There is a world of difference between being wounded and being sick, between being cut by a knife and having smallpox.
- Our Blessed Lord has instituted a sacrament for our spiritual wounds, namely the sacrament of penance,
- So he has a sacrament for the sickness of the body, the body that is united to the soul, too, incidentally. And the beauty of this sacrament is that though the grace is communicated to the soul, it influences the body in a very special way. Not in the way in which the divine divinity of our Blessed Lord influenced the humanity that He took from His blessed mother – no.
- But in some mysterious way, the results of the Passion of our Blessed Lord are poured through the soul into the body because you cannot think of any part of the body that has not been a vehicle of sin.
Traces of Sins
This particular sacrament now wants to do away with all of the traces of that sin and thus in some way restore the body again to health if it be God’s will. You cannot think of a single sin that did not come through the body, not a one.
Envy : that certainly came through the eyes. For example, you saw how much better the Joneses were doing and you had to keep up with the Joneses.
Pride: your ear might have been involved. Someone told you that you were very smart and very beautiful.
Drunkenness, adultery, robbery, blasphemy, all in some way involve the body that is the object of the sacrament. Even your feet – you walked into an occasion of sin. Even your nose – your nose could have contributed to vanity. You may have smelled good cooking and ate too much. Then, too, considerable vanity could be involved in the use of perfume.
Now when a sin gets into the soul through the body, it always leaves a trace, very much like certain diseases. They leave little remembrances behind, not the kind of remembrances that we would like to have. Viruses have tails. Now we are not speaking scientifically, but they do leave vestiges of themselves. That is why certain diseases are not contracted again. And that is why also some diseases leave a very important trace and sometimes embarrassing traces, like smallpox.
So does sin.
Sin comes into the soul through the body and after a while the body becomes like a chimney in which there has been fire and smoke emitted from the hearth. The chimney becomes full of soot. Ships going through the ocean contract many barnacles. Sewers become clogged. You just cannot have sins pouring through the eyes and the ears and the nose and the feet, and so forth, without these senses becoming clogged, sooty, dirty, barnacled.
The Church now purifies the avenues of sin
The Church now purifies the avenues of sin, the eyes, the ears, the nose, the hands, the lips and the feet and purification takes place by the anointing with oil and the words of the priest.
- Now this is what the priest says when he anoints your eyes: “By this holy anointing and His most loving mercy, may the Lord forgive you whatever wrong you have done by the use of your sight. Amen.”
- When the priest anoints your ears, he says, “By this holy anointing and His most loving mercy, may the Lord forgive you whatever wrong you have done by the use of your hearing. Amen.”
- Then the priest anoints the nose: “By this holy anointing and His most loving mercy, may the Lord forgive you whatever wrong you have done by the use of the sense of smell. Amen.”
- Then your hands: “By this holy anointing and His most loving mercy, may the Lord forgive you whatever wrong you have done by the use of your sense of touch. Amen.”
***When the sacrament of extreme unction or the anointing of the sick is given to a priest, he is always anointed on the back of his hands.
***The laity are always anointed on the palm of their hands.
The reason why the priest is anointed on the back of his hands is because the palm of his hand was anointed when he was ordained a priest.
- Continuing the sacrament, we come to the lips: “By this holy anointing and His most loving mercy, may the Lord forgive you whatever wrong you have done by the use of your sense of taste and the power of speech. Amen.”
- Then he anoints your feet: “By this holy anointing and His most loving mercy, may the Lord forgive you whatever wrong you have done by the use of your power of walking. Amen.”
Those are the words of the sacrament – not all of the words, but the words that are used in the actual anointing. Now some remarks about it.
First, this sacrament is given only in serious illness. The one who receives it must be in some danger of death through sickness. It need not be the certitude of death, no, but at any rate, there must be some danger. That is why the sacrament of the anointing of the sick may not be given to soldiers that are going into battle. They are in danger of death, but not from sickness. If they are wounded, then indeed they could be anointed.
Secondly, this sacrament should not be delayed until the patient is unconscious and can no longer join in the prayers. It should be given while he can lift up his soul to the healing power of Christ, who is refreshing his senses and his soul and his sins.
Thirdly, the sacrament does not mean that the person is going to die. There are many who believe that just as soon as the priest is called to administer this particular sacrament it means that the patient is beyond hope. No! The Council of Trent refused to consider the sacrament of extreme unction only as a sacrament for the dying.
The next point, and this is very important. In the administration of this sacrament, there is no mention of death, none whatever. It is not necessarily the sacrament of the dying. It is the sacrament of the sick. Here is the prayer that the priest recites after he has anointed the hands and feet and other members of the body. Now listen to this prayer. Note carefully that the word “death” is not used. Note also that the burden of the prayer is the restoration of the sick person.
“Cure, we beseech Thee, oh, our Redeemer, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, the ailments of this sick man (or woman, as the case may be), heal his wounds, and forgive his sins. Deliver him from all miseries of body and mind and mercifully restore him to perfect health inwardly and outwardly, that having recovered by an act of kindness, he may be able to take up his former duties, Thou, Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit, liveth and reigneth, God, world without end. Amen.”
See from that prayer that though the sacrament is given at a critical time, it is more concerned with sickness than with death.
- That is the reason why the sacrament could just as well and possibly even better be called the sacrament of the anointing of the sick because when we receive it, grace, of course, is always received with the soul.
But as we said before, we are a unit, a composite of body and soul, and here this sacrament has a very special repercussion upon the body.
- To use a very modern word, we might call it the psychosomatic sacrament, the sacrament of body and soul. It looks to the healing of the body, not clinically, not just as a body, because the Church regards the body very differently than medicine.
- To the Church, the body is not just an organism but it is also the temple of God, the residence of divine life. That is why St. Paul says the body is for the Lord. Therefore, this sacrament looks to the body and seeks to give it relief in order that it will not impede the soul in its love of God.
- And our failure to see this is a failure to see the beauty of the sacrament.
I wonder if we really bring to it all the faith that we should have. Did not St. James speak of the great faith that was demanded when the sacrament is received? (James 1: 5-8)
- Here, it is the Divine Physician who comes to us and we should look less to our disease than we look to Him. Of course, the sickness does not preclude the possibility of death because we are all under the penalty of death.
- If we are in danger of death, then we receive the sacrament of the dying, which is
The viaticum is the Eucharist which is given to the dying.
Viaticum means, “on the way, you take the Lord with you.”
- If it be God’s will that death be not postponed, then we see in the sacrament because our senses have been cleansed, first an incorporation into the death of Christ.
You were baptized into His death.
- The Eucharist reminds us of His death. And now we are incorporated in a very special way. We say, with our Lord on the cross, “It is finished”. (John 19:30)
- Our death is united to His.
- We are also united to His resurrection. This sacrament prefigures the anointing of future glory. It in some way applies the resurrection of the body in anticipation, applies it to our thoughts, to our desires.
Then we can go before God with all of the avenues of our body cleansed.
As I once heard an old woman say who was dying of cancer of the face, she said, “You know, I hate to go before the Lord looking like this.” But how beautiful it is to have all the senses cleansed as we go before the Lord. This is a beautiful sacrament.
- It throws out a bridge between earth and heaven and over it we walk in our human weakness.
- The sadness of our suffering is wedded to the yearning for God.
- Joy and sadness meet, and if you would know what joy this sacrament is, you would only have to go with us priests into the sickroom and see us as we minister to the dying.
Pray that you may never die without the sacrament.
God love you.
1. In today’s lesson on – Sacrament of the Sick – what stood out the most to you?
2. Why do you think Bishop Sheen gave the subtitle “Healing Gateways of the Soul” to this lesson?
3. How would you explain to someone seeking a deeper understanding of Sacrament of the Sick?
4. Now that you have learned more about – Sacrament of the Sick
– what changes do you think this will have in your daily life?
ARTICLE 5 – THE ANOINTING OF THE SICK
1499. “‘By the sacred anointing of the sick and the prayer of the priests the whole Church commends those who are ill to the suffering and glorified Lord, that he may raise them up and save them. And indeed she exhorts them to contribute to the good of the People of God by freely uniting themselves to the Passion and death of Christ.'[LG 11; cf. Jam 5:14-16 ; Rom 8:17 ; Col 1:24 ; 2 Tim 2:11-12 ; 1 Pet 4:13 .]”
I. ITS FOUNDATIONS IN THE ECONOMY OF SALVATION
Illness in human life
1500. “Illness and suffering have always been among the gravest problems confronted in human life. In illness, man experiences his powerlessness, his limitations, and his finitude. Every illness can make us glimpse death. ”
1501. “Illness can lead to anguish, self-absorption, sometimes even despair and revolt against God. It can also make a person more mature, helping him discern in his life what is not essential so that he can turn toward that which is. Very often illness provokes a search for God and a return to him. ”
The sick person before God
1502. “The man of the Old Testament lives his sickness in the presence of God. It is before God that he laments his illness, and it is of God, Master of life and death, that he implores healing.[Cf. Ps 6:3 ; Ps 38 ; Isa 38 .] Illness becomes a way to conversion; God’s forgiveness initiates the healing.[Cf. Ps 32:5 ; Ps 38:5 ; Ps 39:9, 12 ; Ps 107:20 ; cf. Mk 2:5-12 .] It is the experience of Israel that illness is mysteriously linked to sin and evil, and that faithfulness to God according to his law restores life: ‘For I am the Lord, your healer.'[Ex 15:26 .] The prophet intuits that suffering can also have a redemptive meaning for the sins of others.[Cf. Isa 53:11 .] Finally Isaiah announces that God will usher in a time for Zion when he will pardon every offense and heal every illness.[Cf. Isa 33:24 .]”
Christ the physician
1503. “Christ’s compassion toward the sick and his many healings of every kind of infirmity are a resplendent sign that ‘God has visited his people'[Lk 7:16 ; cf. Mt 4:24 .] and that the Kingdom of God is close at hand. Jesus has the power not only to heal, but also to forgive sins;[Cf. Mk 2:5-12 .] he has come to heal the whole man, soul and body; he is the physician the sick have need of.[Cf. Mk 2:17 .] His compassion toward all who suffer goes so far that he identifies himself with them: ‘I was sick and you visited me.'[Mt 25:36 .] His preferential love for the sick has not ceased through the centuries to draw the very special attention of Christians toward all those who suffer in body and soul. It is the source of tireless efforts to comfort them.”
1504. “Often Jesus asks the sick to believe.[Cf. Mk 5:34, 36 ; Mk 9:23 .] He makes use of signs to heal: spittle and the laying on of hands,[Cf. Mk 7:32-36 ; Mk 8:22-25 .] mud and washing.[Cf. Jn 9:6-7 .] The sick try to touch him, ‘for power came forth from him and healed them all.'[Lk 6:19 ; cf. Mk 1:41 ; Mk 3:10 ; Mk 6:56 .] And so in the sacraments Christ continues to ‘touch’ us in order to heal us.”
1505. “Moved by so much suffering Christ not only allows himself to be touched by the sick, but he makes their miseries his own: ‘He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.'[Mt 8:17 ; cf. Isa 53:4 .] But he did not heal all the sick. His healings were signs of the coming of the Kingdom of God. They announced a more radical healing: the victory over sin and death through his Passover. On the cross Christ took upon himself the whole weight of evil and took away the ‘sin of the world,'[Jn 1:29 ; cf. Isa 53:4-6 .] of which illness is only a consequence. By his passion and death on the cross Christ has given a new meaning to suffering: it can henceforth configure us to him and unite us with his redemptive Passion.”
“Heal the sick . . .”
1506. “Christ invites his disciples to follow him by taking up their cross in their turn.[Cf. Mt 10:38 .] By following him they acquire a new outlook on illness and the sick. Jesus associates them with his own life of poverty and service. He makes them share in his ministry of compassion and healing: ‘So they went out and preached that men should repent. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them.'[Mk 6:12-13 .]”
1507. “The risen Lord renews this mission (‘In my name . . . they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.'[Mk 16:17-18 .]) and confirms it through the signs that the Church performs by invoking his name.[Cf. Acts 9:34 ; Acts 14:3 .] These signs demonstrate in a special way that Jesus is truly ‘God who saves.'[Cf. Mt 1:21 ; Acts 4:12 .]”
1508. “The Holy Spirit gives to some a special charism of healing[Cf. 1 Cor 12:9, 28, 30 .] so as to make manifest the power of the grace of the risen Lord. But even the most intense prayers do not always obtain the healing of all illnesses. Thus St. Paul must learn from the Lord that ‘my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,’ and that the sufferings to be endured can mean that ‘in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his Body, that is, the Church.'[2 Cor 12:9 ; Col 1:24 .]”
1509. “‘Heal the sick!'[Mt 10:8 .] The Church has received this charge from the Lord and strives to carry it out by taking care of the sick as well as by accompanying them with her prayer of intercession. She believes in the life-giving presence of Christ, the physician of souls and bodies. This presence is particularly active through the sacraments, and in an altogether special way through the Eucharist, the bread that gives eternal life and that St. Paul suggests is connected with bodily health.[Cf. Jn 6:54, 58 ; 1 Cor 11:30 .]”
1510. “However, the apostolic Church has its own rite for the sick, attested to by St. James: ‘Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders (presbyters) 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.'[Jam 5:14-15 .] Tradition has recognized in this rite one of the seven sacraments.[Cf. Council of Constantinople II (553) DS 216; Council Of Florence (1439) 1324- 1325; Council Of Trent (1551) 1695-1696; 1716-1717.]”
A sacrament of the sick
1511. “The Church believes and confesses that among the seven sacraments there is one especially intended to strengthen those who are being tried by illness, the Anointing of the Sick:
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.[Council Of Trent (1551): DS 1695; cf. Mk 6:13; Jam 5:14-15.]”
1512. “From ancient times in the liturgical traditions of both East and West, we have testimonies to the practice of anointings of the sick with blessed oil. Over the centuries the Anointing of the Sick was conferred more and more exclusively on those at the point of death. Because of this it received the name ‘Extreme Unction.’ Notwithstanding this evolution the liturgy has never failed to beg the Lord that the sick person may recover his health if it would be conducive to his salvation.[Cf. Council Of Trent (1551) DS 1696.]”
1513. “The Apostolic Constitution Sacram unctionem infirmorum,[Paul VI, apostolic constitution, Sacram unctionem infirmorum, November 30, 1972.] following upon the Second Vatican Council,[Cf. SC 73.] established that henceforth, in the Roman Rite, the following be observed:
The sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is given to those who are seriously ill by anointing them on the forehead and hands with duly blessed oil – pressed from olives or from other plants – saying, only once: ‘Through this holy anointing may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit. May the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up.'[Cf. CIC, Can. 847 # 1.]”
II. WHO RECEIVES AND WHO ADMINISTERS THIS SACRAMENT?
In case of grave illness . . .
1514. “The Anointing of the Sick ‘is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death. Hence, as soon as anyone of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for him to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived.'[SC 73; cf. CIC, Cann. 1004 # 1; 1005; 1007; CCEO, Can. 738.]”
1515. “If a sick person who received this anointing recovers his health, he can in the case of another grave illness receive this sacrament again. If during the same illness the person’s condition becomes more serious, the sacrament may be repeated. It is fitting to receive the Anointing of the Sick just prior to a serious operation. The same holds for the elderly whose frailty becomes more pronounced. ”
” . . . let him call for the presbyters of the Church”
1516. “Only priests (bishops and presbyters) are ministers of the Anointing of the Sick.[Cf. Council Of Trent (1551): DS 1697; 1719; CIC, Can. 1003; CCEO, Can.] It is the duty of pastors to instruct the faithful on the benefits of this sacrament. The faithful should encourage the sick to call for a priest to receive this sacrament. The sick should prepare themselves to receive it with good dispositions, assisted by their pastor and the whole ecclesial community, which is invited to surround the sick in a special way through their prayers and fraternal attention. ”
III. HOW IS THIS SACRAMENT CELEBRATED?
1517. “Like all the sacraments the Anointing of the Sick is a liturgical and communal celebration,[Cf. SC 27.] whether it takes place in the family home, a hospital or church, for a single sick person or a whole group of sick persons. It is very fitting to celebrate it within the Eucharist, the memorial of the Lord’s Passover. If circumstances suggest it, the celebration of the sacrament can be preceded by the sacrament of Penance and followed by the sacrament of the Eucharist. As the sacrament of Christ’s Passover the Eucharist should always be the last sacrament of the earthly journey, the ‘viaticum’ for ‘passing over’ to eternal life.”
1518. “Word and sacrament form an indivisible whole. The Liturgy of the Word, preceded by an act of repentance, opens the celebration. The words of Christ, the witness of the apostles, awaken the faith of the sick person and of the community to ask the Lord for the strength of his Spirit. ”
1519. “The celebration of the sacrament includes the following principal elements: the ‘priests of the Church'[Jam 5:14 .] – in silence – lay hands on the sick; they pray over them in the faith of the Church[Cf. Jam 5:15 .] – this is the epiclesis proper to this sacrament; they then anoint them with oil blessed, if possible, by the bishop.
These liturgical actions indicate what grace this sacrament confers upon the sick.”
III. HOW IS THIS SACRAMENT CELEBRATED?
1520. “A particular gift of the Holy Spirit. The first grace of this sacrament is one of strengthening, peace and courage to overcome the difficulties that go with the condition of serious illness or the frailty of old age. This grace is a gift of the Holy Spirit, who renews trust and faith in God and strengthens against the temptations of the evil one, the temptation to discouragement and anguish in the face of death.[Cf. Heb 2:15 .] This assistance from the Lord by the power of his Spirit is meant to lead the sick person to healing of the soul, but also of the body if such is God’s will.[Cf. Council of Florence (1439): DS 1325.] Furthermore, ‘if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.'[Jam 515; cf. Council of Trent (1551): DS 1717.]”
1521. “Union with the passion of Christ. By the grace of this sacrament the sick person receives the strength and the gift of uniting himself more closely to Christ’s Passion: in a certain way he is consecrated to bear fruit by configuration to the Savior’s redemptive Passion. Suffering, a consequence of original sin, acquires a new meaning; it becomes a participation in the saving work of Jesus. ”
1522. “An ecclesial grace. The sick who receive this sacrament, ‘by freely uniting themselves to the passion and death of Christ,’ ‘contribute to the good of the People of God.'[LG 11 # 2.] By celebrating this sacrament the Church, in the communion of saints, intercedes for the benefit of the sick person, and he, for his part, though the grace of this sacrament, contributes to the sanctification of the Church and to the good of all men for whom the Church suffers and offers herself through Christ to God the Father.”
1523. “A preparation for the final journey. If the sacrament of anointing of the sick is given to all who suffer from serious illness and infirmity, even more rightly is it given to those at the point of departing this life; so it is also called sacramentum exeuntium (the sacrament of those departing).[Council of Trent (1551): DS 1698.] The Anointing of the Sick completes our conformity to the death and Resurrection of Christ, just as Baptism began it. It completes the holy anointings that mark the whole Christian life: that of Baptism which sealed the new life in us, and that of Confirmation which strengthened us for the combat of this life. This last anointing fortifies the end of our earthly life like a solid rampart for the final struggles before entering the Father’s house.[Council of Trent (1551): DS 1694.] ”
V. VIATICUM, THE LAST SACRAMENT OF THE CHRISTIAN
1524. “In addition to the Anointing of the Sick, the Church offers those who are about to leave this life the Eucharist as viaticum. Communion in the body and blood of Christ, received at this moment of ‘passing over’ to the Father, has a particular significance and importance. It is the seed of eternal life and the power of resurrection, according to the
words of the Lord: ‘He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.'[Jn 6:54 .] The sacrament of Christ once dead and now risen, the Eucharist is here the sacrament of passing over from death to life, from this world to the Father.[Cf. Jn 13:1 .]”
1525. “Thus, just as the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist form a unity called ‘the sacraments of Christian initiation,’ so too it can be said that Penance, the Anointing of the Sick and the Eucharist as viaticum constitute at the end of Christian life ‘the sacraments that prepare for our heavenly homeland’ or the sacraments that complete the earthly pilgrimage.”
1526. “‘Is any among you sick? Let him call for the presbyters 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’ (Jam 5:14-15).”
1527. “The sacrament of Anointing of the Sick has as its purpose the conferral of a special grace on the Christian experiencing the difficulties inherent in the condition of grave illness or old age. ”
1528. “The proper time for receiving this holy anointing has certainly arrived when the believer begins to be in danger of death because of illness or old age. ”
1529. “Each time a Christian falls seriously ill, he may receive the Anointing of the Sick, and also when, after he has received it, the illness worsens. ”
1530. “Only priests (presbyters and bishops) can give the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, using oil blessed by the bishop, or if necessary by the celebrating presbyter himself. ”
1531. “The celebration of the Anointing of the Sick consists essentially in the anointing of the forehead and hands of the sick person (in the Roman Rite) or of other parts of the body (in the Eastern rite), the anointing being accompanied by the liturgical prayer of the celebrant asking for the special grace of this sacrament. “1532. “The special grace of the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick has as its effects:
– the uniting of the sick person to the passion of Christ, for his own good and that of the whole Church;
– the strengthening, peace, and courage to endure in a Christian manner the sufferings of illness or old age;
– the forgiveness of sins, if the sick person was not able to obtain it through the sacrament of Penance;
– the restoration of health, if it is conducive to the salvation of his soul;
– the preparation for passing over to eternal life. “