Illness can lead to anguish, self-absorption, sometimes even despair and revolt against God. It can also make a person more mature, helping him discern in his life what is not essential so that he can turn toward that which is. Very often illness provokes a search for God and a return to him - CCC 1501
Sacraments of Healing: Anointing of the Sick
When the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is given, the hoped-for effect is that, if it be God's will, the person be physically healed of illness. But even if there is no physical healing, the primary effect of the Sacrament is a spiritual healing by which the sick person receives the Holy Spirit's gift of peace and courage to deal with the difficulties that accompany serious illness or the frailty of old age.
In the Church's Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, through the ministry of the priest, it is Jesus who touches the sick to heal. The core message of his healing tells us of his plan to conquer sin and death by his dying and rising.
The Sacrament of the Sick is administered normally in situations of the immediate prospect of surgery, for those who are significant of age, or those in danger of death. That said, the Rite of Anointing tells us there is no need to wait until a person is at the point of death to receive the Sacrament. A careful judgment about the serious nature of the illness is sufficient; in this way, it is appropriate for both children and adults.
Sacrament of the Sick in Scripture
The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is first mentioned in passing in Mark 6:13. St James elaborates in his epistle:
Is any among you sick? Let him call for the presbyters of the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven - James 5:14-15
Want to receive the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick?
- You have been baptised or received into the Catholic Church
- You may receive the Anointing of the Sick whenever and for as long as you are severely ill; you can receive it more than once.
- Non-Catholic Christians can request Anointing if they are in danger of death and cannot approach a minister from their own community
- You are encouraged to contact your local parish if you or someone you know needs this sacrament.