Anointing of the Sick

10-17-2021Pastor's CornerRev. Robert J. Deehan, V.F.

Recently, someone emailed me wondering if I they could receive a “blessing” before they go to the hospital in a few of days to undergo brain surgery. They were hoping it wasn’t too late to make such a request, and they could come to the church when it was convenient for me. I replied – certainly, and that I could give them more than just a “blessing.” I could provide the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. They said they weren’t sure their situation was serious enough for that. Well, we arranged for them to receive the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick after Mass the following weekend. And, a woman in her nineties recently cancelled an appointment to receive the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. She left a message saying that she didn’t feel the need for my visit at this time since she was getting stronger and feeling much better from a recent health setback.

I bring these instances up as examples of people who are definitely candidates for the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. Despite the fact that, at one time, this sacrament was known as the “Last Rites,” it is no longer reserved for people near death. The name change to the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick highlights the fact that it is for people who are seriously ill, anticipating major surgery or who are of advanced age, who could use the Lord’s special grace, healing, comfort and strength as they face their health challenge. One need not be in desperate circumstances. This sacrament can be received many times over the course of one’s life. In the ritual of the Pastoral Care of the Sick, Viaticum (Holy Communion) is described as “the sacrament proper to the dying Christian.” “The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick should be celebrated at the beginning of a serious illness. Viaticum, celebrated when death is close, will then be better understood as the last sacrament of Christian life.” #175 from Pastoral Care of the Sick (PCS).

And so, please spread the word and help us provide the sacraments due any Catholic who is a suitable candidate for these sacraments by contacting the parish early on so that the person can receive the appropriate spiritual care that will be more meaningful and helpful to them.