Anointing of the Sick
The Anointing of the Sick is administered to bring spiritual and even physical strength during an illness, especially near the time of death. It is most likely one of the last sacraments one would receive.
A Sacrament is an outward sign established by Jesus Christ to confer inward grace. In more basic terms, it is a rite that is performed to convey God’s grace to the recipient, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Like all the Sacraments, holy anointing was instituted by Jesus Christ during his earthly ministry. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains; “This Sacred Anointing of the Sick was instituted by Christ our Lord as a true and proper Sacrament of the New Testament”. (CCC 1511)
The Anointing of the Sick conveys several graces and imparts gifts of strengthening in the Holy Spirit against anxiety, discouragement and temptation and conveys peace and fortitude. (CCC 1520)
These graces flow from the atoning death of Jesus Christ for “this was to fulfil what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah.” He took our infirmities and bore our diseases (Matt. 8:17)
Mark refers to the Sacrament when he recounts how Jesus sent out twelve disciples to preach, and they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them. (Mk: 6:13)
In his epistle, James says, “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders 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)
In the year 350, Bishop Serapion wrote: “We beseech you, Saviour of all men, you that have all virtue and power, Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and we pray that you send down from heaven the healing power of the only begotten (Son) upon this oil, so that for those who are anointed …. it may be effected for the casting out of every disease and every bodily infirmity … for good grace and remission of sins”. (The Sacramentary of Serapion 29:1)
The special grace of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick has as its effects: the uniting of the sick person to the passion of Christ, for his own good and that of the whole Church; the strengthening, peace and courage to endure in a Christian manner the sufferings of illness and old age, the forgiveness of sins, if the sick person was not able to obtain it through the Sacrament of Penance, the restoration of health, if it is conductive to the salvation of his soul, the preparation for passing over to eternal life. CCC 1532)