What is Anointing of the Sick?
Anointing of the Sick involves a special liturgy for those whose health is in a critical state. It has sometimes been referred to as the 'last rites' as it is a sacrament often received by those who are close to death which offers a special blessing in preparation for passing from this life to the next.
'Through this holy anointing may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit... May the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up.'
(Taken from the Rite of the Anointing of the Sick)
You can receive this sacrament several times in your life so you don't need to 'save it just in case'. For example, people may receive the sacrament if they are suffering from a serious illness or if they are going to have a serious operation. Hopefully the operation will be a success or a person may recover from the illness, this does not exclude them from receiving the sacrament again in future.
"Care for the sick must have priority over everything else: They should be served as though they were really Christ"
St Benedict of Nursia
Care for the sick, the elderly, and the most in need are central to our Catholic faith with the perfect example shown through Jesus' ministry. In the Gospels there are many instances of Jesus healing the sick and He also bestows his disciples with the divine authority to "heal the sick in my name".
Who is it for?
The Anointing of the Sick can be received by any Catholic whose health is in a critical state. The Sacrament can be administered anywhere but is often received by those who are housebound or at hospital. Sometimes the anointing happens as part of a special liturgy like in Lourdes, France. This is a place of pilgrimage visited by millions each year, and especially by those who are sick, due to the miraculous and healing waters
unearthed by St Bernadette under the instruction of Our Lady.
What happens during Anointing of the Sick?
The sacrament is generally a simple liturgy with the priest and the person receiving. It involves the anointing of both the hands and the head with holy oil, accompanied by prayers from the Rite of the Anointing of the Sick. It imparts peace and strength and unites the person with Christ's suffering in a special way. Some may recieve physical healing but some are called home by God. In either case the anointing has the effect of forgiving sins.
If you, or more often someone you know, is in a position to receive the Anointing of the Sick then please speak to one of our priests in person or call the parish office. If it is for someone who is in Hospital there is often a Catholic chaplaincy that can offer support and also a priest 'on call' to respond to urgent cases.