Anointing of the Sick

"Are there any who are sick among you? Let them send for the priests of the Church, and let the priests pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick persons, and the Lord will raise them up; and if they have committed any sins, their sins will be forgiven them” (James 5: 14-15)

In case of an emergency in which one is in danger of death requiring the presence of a priest, please call (918) 744-0023 during office hours or (918) 744-9494 after office hours.

The Anointing of the Sick is the official name of the Sacrament that many may remember as the "Last Rites" or "Extreme Unction." In the days before Vatican II, only those in danger of death were anointed, but the Council changed all that. Vatican II has had us follow the more ancient practice of the Church, which is to anoint all the sick for the healing of their bodies and souls.

We anoint any person who is seriously ill, in danger of death, weakened due to old age (even if no serious illness is present), or preparing for serious surgery due to illness.  One should not necessarily wait until they are on their deathbed to receive this Sacrament.  In addition, those who have received the anointing and recovered, but again fall ill, or those whose condition becomes more serious during the same illness, may receive the Sacrament again.  The dead are not anointed, as no Sacrament is effective for those who are not living. For the dead, we say prayers and trust their souls to the mercy of God.

If you or a loved one is ill, please call the parish at (918) 744-0023 to be anointed.  If you wish to be anointed before surgery, please contact a priest who can arrange to anoint you before or after Mass if you are able to come to the church, or it can be done in your home.  Please do not rely on a hospital to inform us of your illness.  Hospitals are actually forbidden to do this under current law.  Please let us know when you or a loved one is ill so that the Sacrament can be administered. Once again, in cases of imminent death or the possibility thereof, contact the priest at (918) 744-9494, when the parish office is closed.

 

Anointing of the Sick: A Better Understanding

 

The Oil of the Sick
The oil used in administering the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is called Oil of the Sick.  It is one of the three Holy oils blessed by the bishop of the diocese at his cathedral at the Chrism Mass, the other two Holy Oils being Holy Chrism and the Oil of Catechumens, which is used in Baptism.  Oil of the Sick is pure olive oil—nothing being added except the blessing of the bishop.  Its appropriateness as part of the outward sign of Anointing of the Sick is evident from the healing and strengthening effects which are characteristic of olive oil.

The Rite of Anointing
In giving the Sacrament, the priest anoints the sick person on the forehead and hands.  During this anointing, the priest says: "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."

Graces of the sacrament
In common with all the Sacraments, Anointing of the Sick confers sanctifying grace.  It is an increase in sanctifying grace that Anointing of the Sick gives, since it presupposes that the recipient already is free from mortal sin.  Thus there is intensified in the soul that supernatural life, that oneness with God, which is the source of all spiritual strength as it is also the measure of our capacity for the happiness of heaven.

Besides this increase in sanctifying grace, Anointing of the Sick gives its own special sacramental grace.  The primary purpose of the special grace of Anointing of the Sick is to comfort and to strengthen the soul of the sick person.  This is the grace that quiets anxiety and dissipates fear.  It is the grace which enables the sick person to embrace God's will and to face the possibility of death without apprehension.  It is the grace which gives the soul the strength to face and conquer whatever temptations to doubt, despondency, or even despair may mark Satan's last effort to seize this soul for himself.

Secondary effects
This spiritual tranquility and strength is further increased by the second effect of Anointing of the Sick.  This is the preparation of the soul for entrance into heaven by the forgiveness of venial sins and the cleansing of the soul from the remains of sin.

If we are so blessed as to receive the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick in our last illness, we may have every confidence that we shall enter into the happiness of heaven immediately after death. We hope that our friends still will continue to pray for us after death, since we never can be sure of the adequacy of our own dispositions in receiving this Sacrament; and if we do not need the prayers, someone else will profit by them.

Yet we should have a high degree of confidence, once we have received Anointing of the Sick, that we shall look upon the face of God moments after our soul leaves our body. The soul has been cleansed from all that might hold it back from God, from venial sins and from the temporal punishment due to sin.

The Anointing of the Sick Complements Confession
Since Penance (Confession) is the Sacrament by which God intends our mortal sins to be forgiven, a sick person who has mortal sins to confess must receive the Sacrament of Penance before he receives the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.  However, it is a comfort to know that Anointing of the Sick does forgive mortal sin also if the critically ill person is unable to receive the Sacrament of Penance. This could happen, for example, if Anointing of the Sick were administered to an unconscious person who had made an act of imperfect contrition for his mortal sins before losing consciousness.

Healing the sick
It is plain that the principal purpose of the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is a spiritual one: to prepare the soul for death, if death is inevitable.  However, there is a secondary and conditional effect of Anointing of the Sick: the recovery of bodily health by the sick or injured person. The condition under which this secondary effect can be expected to operate is stated by the Council of Trent: "When it is expedient for the soul's salvation." In other words, if it will be spiritually good for the sick person to recover, then his recovery can with certainty be expected.  The recovery, however, will most probably not be a sudden miraculous recovery.  God does not multiply marvels unnecessarily. Whenever possible he works through natural causes.  In this instance, recovery will be the result of the powers of nature, stimulated by the graces of the Sacrament.  By eliminating anxiety, abolishing fear, inspiring confidence in God with resignation to his will, Anointing of the Sick reacts upon the bodily processes for the physical betterment of the patient.