“The Lord Jesus Christ, physician of our souls and bodies, who forgave the sins of the paralytic and restored him to bodily health, has willed that his Church continue, in the power of the Holy Spirit, his work of healing and salvation, even among her own members. This is the purpose of the two sacraments of healing: the sacrament of Penance and the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. By the sacred anointing of the sick and the prayer of the priests the whole Church commends those who are ill to the suffering and glorified Lord, that he may raise them up and save them. And indeed she exhorts them to contribute to the good of the People of God by freely uniting themselves to the Passion and death of Christ.
Illness and suffering have always been among the gravest problems confronted in human life. In illness, we experience our powerlessness, our limitations, and our finitude. Every illness can make us glimpse death. 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.”1
“The sick person is not the only one who should fight against illness. Doctors and all who are devoted in any way to caring for the sick should consider it their duty to use all the means which, in their judgment, may help the sick, both physically and spiritually. In so doing, they are fulfilling the command of Christ to visit the sick, for Christ implied that those who visit the sick should be concerned for the whole person and offer both physical relief and spiritual comfort.”2
“Those who are seriously ill need the special help of God’s grace in this time of anxiety, lest they be broken in spirit and, under the pressure of temptation, perhaps weakened in their faith. This is why, through the sacrament of anointing, Christ strengthens the faithful who are afflicted by illness, providing them with the strongest means of support.” Specifically, “…the whole person is helped and saved, sustained by trust in God, and strengthened against the temptations of the Evil One and against anxiety over death. Thus the sick person is able not only to bear suffering bravely, but also the fight against it. A return to physical health may follow reception of this sacrament if it will be beneficial to the sick person’s salvation. If necessary, the sacrament also provides the sick person with the forgiveness of sins…”2
The sacrament is for “…the faithful whose health is seriously impaired by sickness or old age.
[which emphatically includes those who are only in the very first stages of a serious illness. The Church very much prefers that the sick person, if at all possible, not wait until he or she is near or at death’s door before they ask for this sacrament. This would restrict the sacrament to being, as many still regrettably think it to be, the Last Rites or Extreme Unction.]
… Elderly people may be anointed if they become notably weakened even though no serious illness is present.”2 A person, seriously sick or elderly infirm, may be anointed again during an illness or infirmity if their condition appreciably worsens.
“From ancient times in the liturgical traditions of both East and West, we have testimonies to the practice of anointings of the sick with blessed oil…The “priests of the Church”—in silence—lay hands on the sick; they pray over them in the faith of the Church and then anoint them with oil blessed by the bishop.
The first grace of this sacrament is one of strengthening, peace and courage to overcome the difficulties that go with the condition of serious illness or the frailty of old age. This grace is a gift of the Holy Spirit, who renews trust and faith in God and strengthens against the temptations of the evil one, the temptation to discouragement and anguish in the face of death. This assistance from the Lord by the power of his Spirit is meant to lead the sick person to healing of the soul, but also of the body if such is God’s will. Furthermore, if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”1
We invite all who would like to receive this great gift of God, the Sacrament Of The Sick, to contact the coordinator of our health care ministry, Gerry Madey 865.5740, so that a priest may visit your home. Or, if possible, you may come to church to receive this sacrament of the Church in the midst of our praying church community.
1. Catechism of the Catholic Church
2. General Introduction of the Rites of Anointing and Viaticum