Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick
The anointing of the sick is administered to bring spiritual and even physical strength during an illness, especially near the time of death.
Anointing of the Sick
Throughout his public ministry Jesus had great care for the sick and the gospels are filled with incidents where Jesus healed the sick in groups or individually. This further illustrates that Jesus came to show us God's love and especially to those who perhaps felt hard done by their lot in life. When the priest anoints he makes God's healing love present to the sick just as Jesus made it present when he was on earth. We believe that anointing both supports the sick person in his/her illness and also can cure the sick.
In parishes anointing mostly takes place when the priest visits the sick or during specially arranged liturgies in the church where many are anointed in the one ceremony. Occasionally when a parishioner becomes suddenly seriously ill or an already sick person becomes more ill the priest is called to administer the sacraments. This is called Viaticum or food for the journey and involves confession, anointing and where possible the giving of Holy Communion. In this way Jesus is present under sacramental appearance to the sick and brings God's Love to that special time.
The Sacrament of Anointing may be received multiple times in life or during an illness to those who are baptised and share our faith in the Sacraments. The faithful are Anointed prior to serious medical procedures and surgery as well as in advanced old age and serious sickness. We should avoid trivialising the Sacrament by requesting it without creditable reason.
In recent years ceremonies involving anointing people with " blessed oil " have led to confusion with the oil used to anoint the sick sacramentally. Only a priest or bishop may anoint.
The Church's Special Care for The Sick
Throughout its history the Church has a special ministry to the sick following the example of Jesus and seeing the suffering Christ in those who suffer. The sickness of another has a value as it witnesses to the imperfection of the human condition and calls us to be ministers of charity, care, mercy, love and compassion to him/her. Sickness invites those with special skills or training in care, medicine, surgery or science to put these special gifts and abilities at the service of the sick to comfort and to cure.
In the past many became saints because of the way in which they bore sickness and pain or because of the love they showed for their sick brothers and sisters. Many religious orders were founded to care for the sick thus witnessing then and now to the loving presence of Christ in the lives of the sick. Today many Catholic agencies and charities are involved for the same reason in care of the sick especially in areas affected by war, disease, natural disasters and human displacement.