God never abandons us!
[The priests at OLPH are happy to administer the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick upon request; please just phone, email, or approach us directly. It is always important to approach the priest AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE when you or a loved one are seriously ill; the church wants to be present to you during your illness, not just in extreme moments.]
1.) Anointing of the Sick is a Sacrament of Healing; this sacrament brings Jesus’ healing grace to bear upon the sick person. This sacrament is meant to bring comfort, spiritual refreshment, and, if God wills it, physical healing. It is a way for the church to show its care for sick people and to ask God to be with them in their time of need.
2.) Jesus spent much of his earthly ministry caring for and healing sick people. We also read the advice of the early church leaders in the Bible:
“Are there any who are sick among you? If so, you should send for the priests of the church, who will pray for them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. This prayer of faith will bring healing to the sick person– the Lord will restore them to health, and if they have committed any sins, their sins will be forgiven.” (James 5:14-15)
3.) Old age, serious illness and suffering are among the most difficult things for people to deal with. Because of this, Jesus wants us to know that even when we are elderly, suffering, or very ill, he stills loves us and cares for us. Jesus never abandons us. One way that Jesus shows this is through the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is a special way that Jesus and his church reach out to us.
4.) We should receive the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick whenever our health is impaired because of old age or serious illness; we do NOT have to be dying, just seriously ill.
5.) Only a bishop or priest can administer this sacrament. They usually do this by saying the sacramental formula and tracing the sign of the cross with oil on the forehead and palms of the sick person. The oil used is normally blessed by the bishop at the Chrism Mass each year.
6.) The effects of this sacrament are:
- The sick person receives the special grace of the Holy Spirit which brings them the strength, comfort, and peace they need to deal with their illness.
- If the sick person has committed any sins, they are forgiven.
- The suffering of the sick person is united with the suffering of Jesus.
- The sick person is remembered and cared for by the church.
7.) If a person is actually in danger of death, they should if possible receive the Sacraments of Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick, and Eucharist– these 3 sacraments together are sometimes informally referred to as THE LAST RITES.
“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, no. 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.’” (From the USCCB web site).
8.) More from the American Catholic Bishops
9.) Pope Francis speaks of the beauty of this Sacrament
9.) Other Resources
Rev. Msgr. John N. Fell, Pastor
Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish
Bernardsville, NJ 07924