St Francis Q&A

Friday, November 17, 2006

Anointing of the Sick

1) DC 'Hood v. St Andrew's basketball game - tonight (11/17), 7:30 pm Wheaton High School (12601 Dalewood Drive, Wheaton). The SAA junior high boys and girls will play a game from 7-7:30 pm, and we'll play after them. See you there!!

2) There will still be Adoration tomorrow night (11/17), SAA Church, 7-8 pm.
Someone asked me a little while ago, "Can you explain the Annointing of the Sick?" Thanks for asking because this is one of the most misunderstood sacraments. Anointing of the Sick is for those persons who are seriously ill. When I anoint someone, I explain it is to give them spiritual strength in the midst of their suffering, first and foremost. Any kind of physical healing from the Anointing is up to God and his gracious Will. Also, it can be "preparation for the journey" for those who are dying; it brings forgiveness of sins if the sick person is not able to go to Confession.

Here is a good article I found online by Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M., Th.D., about the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. To view the full text, please click on the title of this post:

"Our mission as Church is to do what Jesus did. And on nearly every page of the Gospels we read of Jesus' concern for the sick. Healing was essential to the mission of the disciples: 'He summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two.... They anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them' (see Mark 6:7-13). After Jesus ascended into heaven, the Church continued to be a sacrament of healing: 'Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven' (James 5: 14-15)...

In the course of time, the focus of the sacrament shifted from healing to forgiveness of sins and the time for receiving the sacrament was delayed to the deathbed when forgiveness of sins would also be the final preparation for heaven. 'Over the centuries the Anointing of the Sick was conferred more and more exclusively on those at the point of death. Because of this it received the name "Extreme Unction"' (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1512). The Sacrament of the Sick had become the Last Anointing, the unction in extremis...

The Anointing of the Sick is a different kind of healing than a chemical placed into our body as medicine or a surgical intervention to cut out diseased tissue. Sacraments are acts of faith; they grace the whole person—body, soul and spirit. The blessing over the oil for anointing asks God to 'send the power of your Holy Spirit, the Consoler, into this precious oil. Make this oil a remedy for all who are anointed with it; heal them in body, in soul and in spirit, and deliver them from every affliction' (Pastoral Care of the Sick, #123)...

When our attention is directed toward physical illness, it is natural to think of the effects of the sacrament in terms of physical healing. Sacraments, however, are celebrations of faith, expressions of who we are before God. This understanding of sacrament, together with the realization that we are more than our physical body, has led us to look again at the effects of the Sacrament of Anointing...

The Second Vatican Council has reminded us: 'The purpose of the sacraments is to make people holy, to build up the Body of Christ and finally to give worship to God' (Liturgy, #59). The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick accomplishes this by helping us gain insight into the religious meaning of human suffering."


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