Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick

Father in heaven,
through this holy anointing
grant our sick sisters and brothers
comfort in their suffering.
When they are afraid, give them courage,
when afflicted, give them patience,
when dejected, afford them hope,
and when alone assure them of the support
of Your holy people.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Gospel record of Jesus’ healings are among people’s most favorite episodes in Jesus’ Public Ministry (see Mark 1). Each can identify with any number of the people who came to Jesus seeking healing as we all suffer in some aspect of our lives: spiritually, psychologically and physically. We all need Jesus’ healing!

Jesus continues His healing ministry through the Church in a powerful way through the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick (see Catechism of the Catholic Church). Regrettably, there are many misunderstandings associated with this Sacrament because of a not-so-precise translation of its original Latin name, Extreme Unction. Translated as “last anointing,” the Sacrament unfortunately became associated with death, many times referred to erroneously as “Last Rites” (technically, “Last Rites” are the prayers offered at a cemetery that concludes a Funeral Mass). Extreme Unction is more properly translated ‘the anointing that is the last in a series of anointings.’ One was first anointed with Sacred Chrism in Baptism, then anointed with Sacred Chrism. Unless one is ordained a priest or bishop, there are no other anointings except when one is sick. Yes, it is a mouthful to translate Extreme Unction as ‘the anointing that is the last in a series of anointings,’ hence one of the reasons why the Sacrament was retitled “Anointing of the Sick” following The Second Vatican Council.

Sacraments are for living, human beings. Sacraments are encounters with Jesus like the encounters people had with Him in the Gospels (see John 3 [Jesus and Nicodemus] and John 4 [Jesus and the Woman of Samaria at the Well]). As far as Jesus intends, each of these encounters, each of the Sacraments is given for the purpose of our ultimate healing, what we Christians call salvation – a relationship with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit now and in the eternity and perfection of eternal life.
If you are seriously ill, having surgery or have grown weak under the burden of years, call the parish and arrange a convenient time for one of the parish priests to visit and to anoint you. If desired, the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation can be part of the visit as well. If you are homebound and unable to participate in weekly Sunday Mass, please call the parish and arrangements can be made to bring you Holy Communion on a regular basis.

God our Father
our human strength lays claim to Your strength.
We pray that through the skills of surgeons and nurses
Your healing Gifts may be granted
to our sick brothers and sisters.
May your servants respond to Your healing will and
be reunited with us at your altar of praise.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.