Anointing of the Sick

Please do not hesitate to call the office to receive the sacrament of healing or holy communion for the sick and homebound. We will be happy to arrange for a visit for anyone who is unable to attend Mass. If you, or a Catholic friend or neighbor of yours, would like the visit of a priest, please Contact us.

What is the anointing of the sick?

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 them from sin – and sometimes even from physical ailment. During the Sacrament, the priest lays his hands on the head of the sick person; then proceeds to anoint, with the blessed Oil of the Sick, the forehead and hands. He accompanies these acts with the words: “Through the holy anointing the Lord in his Love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit. May the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up.”

What does the anointing do?

The Catechism also states that the special grace of the Sacrament of Anointing has as its effects:

  • It 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
  • Unites the sick person to the passion of Christ, for their own good and that of the whole Church;
  • Gives the sick person the strength, peace, and courage to endure in a Christian manner the sufferings of illness or old age;
  • Healing of the soul, but also of the body if such is God’s will
  • Forgiveness of venial (lesser) sins. Mortal (serious) sins are removed by the sacrament of penance
  • Helping the sick person in the preparation for passing over to eternal life.
Who may receive the Sacrament of Anointing?

Any Catholic person” who, having reached the use of reason, begins to be in danger by reason of illness or old age” (Canon 1004.1) can validly receive the Sacrament of Anointing. A sick person may be anointed before surgery, whenever a serious illness is the reason for the surgery. Elderly people are to be anointed if they have become notably weakened, even though no serious illness is present.

However, because of misunderstanding, this sacrament is sometimes incorrectly administered. The sacrament is not to be administered prior to surgery (a common misunderstanding of some priests and lay people) if the person is not in danger because of a serious illness or advanced age. If a person is not at least in a distant, but real danger of death through sickness or old age, then the person cannot validly be anointed. Anointing of the sick is only to be given to those who have begun to be “in danger of death” whether from sickness or old age.

Is my illness is serious enough for anointing?

A simple, reasonable decision is all that is needed to determine if an illness is of the gravity needed for the Sacrament of Anointing. Liturgical law states “A prudent or reasonably sure judgement, without scruple, is sufficient for deciding on the seriousness of an illness; if necessary a doctor may be consulted” (Pastoral Care of the Sick, paragraph 8). If you are beginning to be in danger of death because of the illness, even if death is quite remote or distant, this is a sufficiant reason to be anointed.

When should a priest be called?

A common misunderstanding is that the priest is not to be called for the anointing of the sick until the person is on death’s door. This is incorrect and puts the person at risk of dying without receiving all of the graces and assistance of the Sacraments. The priest should be called to provide the anointing of the sick at the beginning of a serious (life threatening) illness or whenever some is at risk of death from old age. It is better to get this sacrament sooner, then to be too late.

How to prepare to receive the anointing of the sick?

While it is not uncommon to receive the anointing of the sick with little to no to no preparation, so that the anointing is administered with the dignity deserving of this Christ ordained sacrament, the following will be completed: 

    1. Decide on a date and time and schedule with the priest: Contact us
    2. Gather together some of the members of your family if possible a few other representatives from the Christian community.
    3. Prepare a table covered with a linen cloth on which the Blessed Sacrament will be placed so that the sick person and anyone else present may also receive communion. 
    4. Candles are prepared and if possible a vessel of holy water
    5. If the sick person would like to celebrate the sacrament of penance, this will ideally be taken care of during a previous visit (schedule as needed). 
Can a person receive the sacrament of anointing more than once?

Yes. A person may request the sacrament again if the sickness recurs or if the condition becomes more serious.

Confused about the difference between Anointing of the Sick and last rites? Learn more by reading about the last rites and when they should be administered.