What is Anointing of the Sick?
Anointing of the Sick is a sacrament which gives one grace as strengthening, and peace and courage to overcome the difficulties that are associated with disease, illness and dying.
“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.”
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1501)
Anointing of the Sick is a gift of the Holy Spirit. It also creates a union with the Passion of Christ (Jesus’ suffering on the cross). Just as Christ suffered and was glorified, one also receives grace through suffering, a consequence of original sin, so that there is healing of the soul.
Anointing also has an ecclesial grace effect in that it brings grace upon the whole of the Church because each member of the Church is united as one in the Body of Christ. It brings the forgiveness of sins, if the sick person was not able to obtain it through the sacrament of Penance and the restoration of health, if it is conducive to the salvation of his soul. Finally, it is a preparation for the final journey to heaven mostly for those that suffer from serious or terminal illness and infirmity.
Who can receive Anointing of the Sick?
Anointing of the Sick should be administered to anyone that begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age and also just prior to a serious operation. These, however are not limits of the sacrament. It can be repeatedly given to someone if his/her condition becomes worse as well as for the elderly whose frailty becomes worse.
Who administers this sacrament?
Like almost all sacraments bishops and priests are the ordinary ministers. The faithful are encouraged to call upon a priest to perform this sacrament when it is known that someone is sick and/or dying.
Is Anointing of the Sick Biblical?
Of course! Everything Catholic is in the Bible. We refer to James 5:14-15:
“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.”
Additionally, below are the notes in regards to the passage and the sacrament from the New American Bible:
“In case of sickness a Christian should ask for the presbyters of the church, i.e., those who have authority in the church (Acts 15:2,22-23; 1 Timothy 5:17; Titus 1:5). They are to pray over the person and anoint with oil; oil was used for medicinal purposes in the ancient world (see Isaiah 1:6; Luke 10:34). In Mark 6:13, the Twelve anoint the sick with oil on their missionary journey.”
What are the matter and form of Anointing of the Sick?
The matter is the oil and the laying on of hands by the celebrant and the form is the prayers of the priest or bishop. The priest or bishop will pray in silence and then anoint the sick person with oil.
What is Viaticum?
Viaticum is the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick given with the Eucharist for those who are about to die. The giving of the Eucharist at the time of death is a powerful sign and reality of making one as perfect as possible for the afterlife.