In the love of God His Father, Jesus Christ has come to heal the whole human person, soul and body. He continues to show his faithfulness and compassion and solidarity towards the sick: "He took our infirmities and bore our diseases." (CCC: 1505) As St. James says, "Is anyone among you sick? Let him call the presbyters of the Church and let them pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord" (James 5:14-15). The sacrament of Anointing of the Sick confers a special grace of the Holy Spirit on Christians who are suffering from serious illness, and not exclusively on the faithful who are at the point of death (CCC: 1514).
To learn more about the Anointing of the Sick, these resources may help:
Pope Francis: "The Beauty of the Anointing of the Sick"
Catechism of the Catholic Church: 1499-1532
Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: 313-320
The Code of Canon Law: 844.
What do Catholics believe about the Sacrament of the Sick?
In solidarity with the sick, the Church believes and confesses "the life-giving presence of Christ, the physician of souls and bodies" in this "sacred anointing" (CCC: 1509; 1511). "But even the most intense prayers do not always obtain the healing of all illnesses." (CCC: 1508) The liturgical actions signify what grace the sacrament confers upon the sick: (i.) a gift of the Holy Spirit who grants fortitude and renewal of trust and faith in God especially against the temptations of the evil one; (ii.) union with Christ in His redemptive suffering and death; (iii.) the restoration of health if it is conducive to their salvation; (iv.) an ecclesial grace sanctifying the Church on earth; (v.)
sacramentum exeuntium that completes all the holy anointings that mark the whole Christian life and prepares the final journey of those who are at the point of departing this life.
The sacrament is connected to divine absolution through the Church: as administered by the priest, the anointing has effects of "the forgiveness of sins, if the sick person was not able to obtain it through the sacrament of Penance".
(CCC: 1520-1523; 1532)
Is the Sacrament called the "Last Rites"?
No. The Church believes and teaches that the sacrament is not a sacrament only for those who are at the point of death but for those among the faithful, including children reaching the age of reason, who "begin to be in danger of death from sickness or old age". (CCC: 1514)
May someone receive this Sacrament more than once?
Yes, and at the discretion of the priest. (Cf. CCC: 1515) One should ask for a priest to confer the sacrament again in any situation of grave illness, whether the situation is persisting, recurring, worsening, or a newly developed one and so on.
Who should confer the Sacrament?
Only a validly ordained priest should confer the Sacrament.
What is physically done in this Sacrament?
The "priests of the Church"—in silence—lay hands on the sick; they pray over them in the loving faith of the Church in the hope of Holy Spirit to come and act; they then anoint them with sacred oil. (CCC: 1519).
Does the Church ever anoint someone who is already dead?
No. Sacraments are for the living. The Church cares deeply about who are present at the death of a loved one and the family of our faithful departed. Please get in touch with your pastor or deacon or lay assistant if you wish to receive pastoral care and the prayers of your parish family.
How do I arrange for the Sacrament?
Current practices at Ontario hospitals make it easily the responsibility of the patient or their families to declare the patient's religious affiliation at admissions. For the Sacrament to be arranged, it is absolutely crucial that you or your immediate family let the hospital administration (e.g., a nurse or a physician) or the hospital chaplaincy know
A Roman Catholic priest is necessary to confer the sacrament.
Make sure your parish know about your wish to receive the Sacrament. If you are not attending a parish currently, phone one of our many parish families to discuss your circumstance.
Should children receive this Sacrament?
When a baptized child is in danger of death, he/she may be confirmed, and celebrate First Holy Eucharist at the time of Anointing by the priests of the Church.
::top of page