Anointing of the Sick

The scriptural basis for the Anointing of the Sick is quite clear. There is a description of it in the Letter of St James: 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 5:14-15).

Although it is often called the Last Rites, the sacrament is available to anyone past the age of reason (usually 7 or 8) who is gravely ill. It is repeatable, as needed, should the condition worsen or a new one arises.

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 (C.C.C. 1513).

Anointing of the Sick

Anointing of the Sick, Graces of the Sacrament

The help given by the Lord, through the Holy Spirit, in this sacrament is not only meant for spiritual healing but physical if that be the will of God. The anointing brings strength to overcome the troubles from a grave illness or even the frailty of old age with courage and peace. It also aids in the fight against the temptations of the evil one, the temptation to discouragement and anguish in the face of death. Further, if the person has committed any sins, he will be forgiven.

The sacrament also serves to unite the individuals suffering the Passion of Christ. In a certain way the sick person 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.

In short, the grace of this sacrament unites the sick more closely to the suffering of Christ, strengthens them to endure suffering with peace and courage, forgives any sins (not previously forgiven), restores health (if it is beneficial to the soul), and prepares them for the passing to eternal life.

If you found this simple guide to the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick helpful, check out our article on the 7 Sacrements for an introduction to the other Sacraments.

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