Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick

“Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well.” (James 5:14-15)

“By the sacred anointing of the sick and the prayer of the priests the whole Church commends those who are ill to the suffering and glorified Lord, that he may raise them up and save them. and indeed she exhorts them to contribute to the good of the People of God by freely uniting themselves to the Passion and death of Christ.” (1)

Often Jesus asks the sick to believe. He makes use of signs to heal: spittle and the laying on of hands, mud and washing. The sick try to touch him, “for power came forth from him and healed them all.” and so in the sacraments Christ continues to “touch” us in order to heal us. (2)

Like all the 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. It is very fitting to celebrate it within the Eucharist, the memorial of the Lord’s Passover. (3)

(1) Catechism of the Catholic Church [hereafter CCC], 2nd ed. (Strathfield, NSW: St Pauls, 2000), n. 1499.
(2) CCC, n. 1504.     (3) CCC, n. 1517.

Anointing the Sick at St. Lambert

Catholics who are in need of any kind of healing, those who have a serious physical or mental illness, advanced in age, going in for surgery or having any change to health of  body or mind are all eligible to receive this sacrament.

Vatican II opened the availability to the sacrament to those people, instead of only prior to death. Jesus showed a great love for the sick when he was on Earth and this sacrament

This sacrament is available upon request.  Please contact the parish office for more information and to request.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Anointing of the Sick?
Anointing of the Sick is one of the seven Sacraments.  It is received by those who are gravely ill, approaching serious surgery or in danger of death.  Along with Reconciliation, it is characterized as a Sacrament of Healing.

In what way is Anointing of the Sick believed to be “healing”?
In the Sacrament, the Church prays that the person anointed will regain physical health.  It is also intended for interior healing, as the person is comforted by the help of the Lord who is present in the Sacrament.  And there is a spiritual healing, since the Sacrament brings the remission of sins to a person who is no longer able to make a verbal confession.

What is the origin of Anointing of the Sick?
The Gospels relate many occasions when the Lord Jesus encountered the sick, healed them, and forgave their sins.  While He was still on earth, the Lord sent His Apostles out with the instructions to cure the sick.  And in the Epistle of St. James (5:14-15), we have a very clear indication of the practice of this Sacrament in the early Church.

What is physically done in this Sacrament?
The two principal actions of the Sacrament are the laying on of hands, and the anointing itself.

How is the anointing itself done?
The priest uses “Oil of the Sick” – one of the three holy oils blessed each Holy Week by the bishop.  He anoints the forehead and the palms of the hands of the sick person, with very brief accompanying prayers.

Where is the Anointing of the Sick celebrated?
Since those who receive the Sacrament are seriously ill, people are most often anointed in their homes, a hospital or a nursing facility.  People anticipating surgery sometimes ask to be anointed at church, after Mass on a Sunday or weekday.  Some parishes have “Communal Anointing” where a relatively large number of people present at a particular Mass are all anointed.

Should a person’s loved ones be present when he or she is anointed?
It is beautiful to have family members or friends present when one is anointed, but it is not required.  Those who are able to be present can share in many of the prayers of the ritual.  But of course, if the patient is able to make a confession, others are asked to step out of the room for that time.

May someone receive this Sacrament only once, or should we be anointed often?
Anointing is not a Sacrament that can be received only once (like Baptism); nor is it intended to be frequent (like Holy Communion).  The Church allows for this Sacrament to be administered several times for the same person, if necessary.

One might certainly become seriously ill more than once in a lifetime, or may face serious surgery on several occasions.  In each instance, one should be anointed.  Or again, if one has an illness which worsens over time, it would be appropriate to receive the Sacrament more than once in the course of that illness – certainly including when near death.  Generally, at least a month would pass between anointings.

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