Anointing of the Sick

As a one of the Sacraments of Healing, Anointing of the Sick helps the seriously ill or suffering to encounter Jesus’ grace and mercy in strengthening the entire person, body and soul.

Although the sacrament is sometimes referred to as Extreme Unction or Final Anointing, it is not only for those who are dying.

The sacrament is primarily intended for spiritual healing and to help a person endure the burden of their age or illness but can provide physical healing as well.

Jesus healed people who were afflicted with serious illness by laying his hands on them and He gave the Apostles the authority to heal by using oil.

The ordinary minister of Anointing of the Sick is a Catholic priest or bishop.

The matter of the sacrament is vegetable oil, preferably olive oil that has been blessed by a bishop.

The form of the sacrament are the words recited by the minister as he uses the oil to anoint the forehead and hands of the person who is sick: “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.”

Anointing of the Sick can be repeated if illness returns or intensifies, or if the person suffers from new illness or affliction.

A sacrament of healing:

We need help in sickness and suffering:

Jesus still heals people:

Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone in good spirits? He should sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters of the Church, and they should pray over him and anoint [him] with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven.

James 5: 13-16

The Apostles anointed the sick with olive oil:

“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.”

Catechism of the Catholic Church 1499

More than just praying for healing:

For those suffering in mind, body, or spirit:

Strengthening the body and the soul:

In the Anointing of the Sick, the sacramental matter of the oil is offered to us, so to speak, “as God’s medicine … which now assures us of his goodness, offering us strength and consolation, yet at the same time points beyond the moment of the illness towards the definitive healing, the resurrection”. This sacrament deserves greater consideration today both in theological reflection and in pastoral ministry among the sick. Through a proper appreciation of the content of the liturgical prayers that are adapted to the various human situations connected with illness, and not only when a person is at the end of his or her life, the Anointing of the Sick should not be held to be almost “a minor sacrament” when compared to the others. Attention to and pastoral care for sick people, while, on the one hand, a sign of God’s tenderness towards those who are suffering, on the other brings spiritual advantage to priests and the whole Christian community as well, in the awareness that what is done to the least, is done to Jesus himself.

Pope Benedict XVI, Message for World Day of the Sick, 20 November 2011

Anointing is for the seriously ill or aged:

Anointing of the Sick is not “last rites”:

The Truth, Goodness, and Beauty of the Catholic Church

Human things and divine things:

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