Anointing of the Sick
Please contact Father Bill Marks at 317-787-8246 for assistance.
The sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. It gives one grace as strengthening, peace and courage to overcome the difficulties that are associated with disease, illness and dying. It is a gift of the Holy Spirit. It also creates a union with the Passion of Christ (Jesus' suffering on the cross). Just as Christ suffered and was glorified, one also receives grace through suffering, a consequence of original sin, so that there is healing of the soul.
This sacrament also has an ecclesial grace effect in that it brings grace upon the whole of the church because each member of the church is united as one in the Body of Christ. It brings the forgiveness of sins, if the sick person was not able to obtain it through the sacrament of Penance and the restoration of health, if it is conducive to the salvation of his soul. Finally it is a preparation for the final journey mostly for those that suffer from serious or terminal illness and infirmity.
Who can receive Anointing of the Sick?
Anointing of the Sick should be administered to anyone that begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age and also just prior to a serious operation. These, however are not limits of the sacrament. It can be repeatedly given to someone if his/her condition becomes worse as well as for the elderly whose frailty becomes worse.
Who administers this sacrament?
Like almost all sacraments bishops and priests are the ordinary ministers. The faithful are encouraged to call upon a priest to perform this sacrament when it is known that someone is sick and/or dying.
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 on Holy Thursday morning, 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 essence of the sacrament lies in the actual anointing and the short prayer which accompanies the 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."
Counteracting undue fear
When faced with the danger of death, a person normally will experience a feeling of great anxiety.
This is to be expected. God has planted in human nature a strong attachment to life which we commonly call the instinct for self-preservation. He has done so precisely in order to assure that we take due care of our physical well-being and do not expose ourselves to unnecessary danger to our life.
We need not feel ashamed, therefore, nor convicted of lack of faith if we find ourselves apprehensive when the shadow of death looms over us.
To counteract this fear of death when it needs to be counteracted, and to remove all cause for fear, God has given us the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.
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.
Doubtless some who read this have already received Anointing of the Sick, perhaps even several times. If so, they know by experience, as does the writer, what peace of mind and confidence in God this sacrament bestows.