The Anointing of the Sick
Illness and suffering have always been among the gravest problems confronted in human life. In illness, man experiences his powerlessness, his limitations and his 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.
Christ's compassion toward the sick and his many healings of every kind of infirmity are a resplendent sign that "God has visited his people" (Lk 7:16; Mt 4:24). His compassion toward all who suffer goes so far that he identified himself with them: "I was sick and you visited me" (Mt 25:36). Moved by so much suffering Christ not only allows himself to be touched by the sick, but he makes their miseries his own: "He took our infirmities and bore our diseases" (Mt 8:17). His healings were signs of the coming of the Kingdom of God, not healing the sick. They announced a more radical healing: the victory over sin an death through his Passover.
Christ invites his disciples to follow him by taking up their cross in their turn (Mt 10:38). By following him they acquire a new outlook on illness and the sick. Jesus associated them with his own life of poverty and service. "Heal the sick!" (Mt 10:8). The Church ahs received this charge from the Lord and strives to carry it out by taking car of the sick as well as by accompanying them with her prayer of intercession. This presence of Christ is particularly active through the sacraments, and in an altogether special way through the Eucharist..
The Church believes and confesses that among the seven sacraments there is one especially intended to strengthen those who are being tried by illness, the Anointing of the Sick. This sacrament is not for those only who are at the point of death. As soon as anyone of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time to receive this sacrament has already arrived. If a sick person who received this anointing recovers his health, he can in the case of another grave illness receive this sacrament again. If during the same illness the person's condition becomes more serious, the sacrament may be repeated. It is fitting to receive the Anointing of the Sick just prior to a serious operation. The same holds for the elderly whose frailty becomes more pronounced.
This sacrament is fitting to celebrate within the Eucharist, the memorial of the Lord's Passover. If circumstances suggest, the celebration can be preceded by the sacrament of Penance and followed by the sacrament of the Eucharist. As the sacrament of Christ's Passover, the Eucharist should always be the last sacrament of the earthly journey.
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 against the temptation to discouragement and anguish in the face of death or serious illness. By the grace of this sacrament the sick person receives the strength and gift of uniting himself more closely to Christ's Passion. Suffering acquires a new meaning; it becomes a participation in the saving work of Jesus. In preparation for the final journey, this sacrament completes the holy anointings that mark the whole Christian life: that of Baptism which sealed the new life in us, and that of Confirmation which strengthened us for the combat of this life. This last anointing fortifies the end of our earthly life like a solid rampart for the final struggles before entering the Father's house.
(Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraphs 1499-1532)
If you are in need of the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick or know someone who is, please call us at the parish office at 636-629-0315 for more assistance.