Worship‎ > ‎The Holy Sacraments‎ > ‎

Anointing of the Sick/Last Rites


If you or anyone you know is in need of the anointing of the sick or last rites, please call the rectory.

The Rite of Anointing tells us there is no need to wait until a person is at the point of death to receive the Sacrament. A careful judgment about the serious nature of the illness is sufficient. The Sacrament may be repeated if the sick person recovers after the anointing but becomes ill once again, or if, during the same illness, the person's condition becomes more serious. A person should be anointed before surgery when a dangerous illness is the reason for the intervention (
cf. Rite of Anointing, Introduction, nos. 8-10).

Moreover, "old people may be anointed if they are in weak condition even though no dangerous illness is present. Sick children may be anointed if they have sufficient use of reason to be comforted by this sacrament. . . . [The faithful] should be encouraged to ask for the anointing, and, as soon as the time for the anointing comes, to receive it with faith and devotion, not misusing the sacrament by putting it off." Rite of Anointing, nos. 11, 12, 13

Only bishops and priests may be ministers of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. A penitential rite followed by the Liturgy of the Word opens the celebration. Scripture awakens the faith of the sick and family members and friends to pray to Christ for the strength of his Holy Spirit. The priest lays his hands on the head of the sick person. He then proceeds to anoint, with the blessed Oil of the Sick, the forehead and hands of the sick person (in the Roman Rite). He accompanies these acts with the words, "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."  Catechism of the Catholic Church CCC #1513

For those who are about to depart from this life, the Church offers the person Penance, Anointing of the Sick, and the Eucharist as Viaticum (food for the journey) given at the end of life. These are "the sacraments that prepare for our heavenly homeland" (cf. CCC #1525). These rites are highly valued by Catholics as powerful aids to a good death. Since Holy Communion is the effective sign of Christ's Paschal Mystery, it becomes for the recipient the opportunity to unite one's own suffering and dying to that of Christ with the hope of life eternal with him. The special words proper to Viaticum are added: "May the Lord Jesus protect you and lead you to everlasting life. Amen."

"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." CCC #1499

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. CCC #1501

Often Jesus asks the sick to believe.  He makes use of signs to heal: spittle and the laying on of hands, mud and washing.  The sick try to touch him, "for power came forth from him and healed them all."  And so in the sacraments Christ continues to "touch" us in order to heal us.  CCC #1504

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."  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," 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.  CCC #1505


Catholic Advance Directive Information