Known as one the sacraments of healing, this sacrament was instituted by Christ to strengthen the sick and dying to face the challenges that come with illness, to interceded for the restoration of health, and to remit the sin of the infirm.
This sacrament is not only for those who are at the point of death. “When anyone of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for him to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1514).
Therefore the sacrament may be received by anyone who has a serious illness, those preparing for surgery, and those who suffer difficulties because of advanced age.
Who Administers this Sacrament?
Only priests (bishops and presbyters) are ministers of the Anointing of the Sick. Those administering the sacrament will do so using oil blessed by the bishop, or if necessary by the celebrating presbyter himself. The faithful should encourage the sick to call for a priest to receive this sacrament (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1516).
How is this Sacrament Celebrated?
Like all sacraments, the Anointing of the Sick is a liturgical and communal celebration, whether it takes place in the family home, a hospital or church, for a single sick person or a whole group of sick persons (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1518).
The celebration of the sacrament includes the following principal elements:
- priests lays his hands on the sick
- praying over the sick in the faith of the Church
- anointing of the sick with oil blessed by the bishop
If circumstances allow it, the celebration of the sacrament can be preceded by the sacrament of penance and followed by the sacrament of the Eucharist.