Are any among you sick? They should call for the priests 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
Why celebrate this Sacrament?
Throughout our lives, and especially as we grow older, we may experience periods of poor health. When these moments are marked with a greater seriousness, the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick can offer both spiritual and physical healing.
In the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, we encounter Jesus who heals and consoles us by offering us the presence of the Holy Spirit to strengthen us in body, mind and spirit during our time of illness. Our trust and faith in God are renewed and our suffering is united to Jesus’ suffering on the cross.
Who should receive this Sacrament?
The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is for:
- the elderly whose frailty is becoming more pronounced;
- adults and children who are suffering from a major illness, are facing major surgery, or have suffered a serious accident; and,
- those who suffer from chronic illness or who suffer from a serious mental illness.
From this list, it is clear that the Anointing of the Sick is not meant to be celebrated before imminent death. Its proper celebration at the beginning and during illness and times of suffering and pain, recalls our hope in God’s promise to be with us always and provides us with the strength and consolation of the Holy Spirit to face our suffering with courage.
How is this Sacrament celebrated?
When possible, the Anointing of the Sick is celebrated in the presence of family and friends. The following is a brief outline of the celebration of the Anointing of the Sick:
1. Introductory Rites. The ritual opens with a greeting, a sprinkling with holy water and the penitential act.
2. Liturgy of the Word. A brief reading from Sacred Scripture is recited. The priest may also share a few words to explain the meaning of the Sacrament to those present.
3. Rite of Anointing. This rite opens with the prayer of faith, laying on of hands by the priest, a prayer over the oil, the anointing of the forehead and hands of the person who is sick.
4. Concluding Rite. The celebration concludes with a prayer, the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer and a blessing.
When is this Sacrament Celebrated?
The Anointing of the Sick may be celebrated more than once, usually at the beginning of the illness and when the illness intensifies. If the illness has persisted for a long time, do not wait until the final moments before death to contact the parish priest.
A request for the Anointing of the Sick can be made at any time by calling the Parish Office.
Viaticum – Food for the Journey
When it becomes clear that the person has begun his/her final struggle, Viaticum is celebrated. Viaticum is a Latin word which means “food for the journey.” It is a combined celebration of the Sacraments of Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick and Holy Communion. The priest also offers the Apostolic Pardon.
In order for Viaticum to be celebrated, the priest needs to be called as soon as possible while the person is still able to have his/her confession heard and receive Holy Communion. A good rule of thumb is to contact the priest when nursing staff suggest the calling together of family members.
Upon admittance to hospital, it is your responsibility to inform hospital staff that you are a “Roman Catholic” and that you wish to have your name placed upon the list for a clergy visit during your stay. If your name does not appear on this list, under the law, it is assumed that you do not want a visit.
When requesting a visit, it is your responsibility to mention which, if any, Sacraments (Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick or Holy Communion) you wish to receive during the visit.
Emergencies & Danger of Death
In emergencies and danger of death, regardless of the time of day or night, you should not delay in calling for the priest. Ask the nursing station to contact the “Roman Catholic Priest on Call.”
The Oil of the Sick
The Oil of the Sick is used to anoint the person who is sick. This holy oil is blessed once a year by the Bishop for use in every parish throughout the Diocese. It signifies the healing and strengthening presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the sick person, and the Bishop’s role as the chief shepherd and pastor of God’s people.
A Prayer for the Sick
Jesus our Lord, we ask you to have mercy on all who are sick. Give them your strength and love, and help them to carry this cross with faith. May their sufferings overcome the power of evil and lead others to our Father in heaven. We ask this in the power of your Name who is Lord for ever and ever. Amen.