Anointing of the Sick heals and strengthens trust in the Lord
By Sean Martin
John Paul II Generation
Suffering is a part of our human reality due to the effects of Original sin. “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” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1500). When we suffer, and offer it up to the Lord, we grow in the virtues of faith, hope, and love. We cannot eliminate suffering. Only God is able to eliminate suffering, sin, and the power of evil. Even in the mist of great suffering we must have hope, that “hope that gives us the courage to place ourselves on the side of good even in seemingly hopeless situations” (Spe Salvi 36). The Lord Jesus is always on the side of health and compassion for the sick. He has given us the wonderful Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick to offer us hope, strengthen us, and heal us in times of suffering due to serious illness.
What is the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick?
The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is a Sacrament of healing that strengthens our trust and faith in the Lord when we are seriously ill, dying or weakened by old age. Anointing of the Sick has also been called the Sacrament of Extreme Unction, which emphasizing the effect of preparation for death. In this Sacrament, God offers us the grace of healing, conversion of heart, and ultimately a preparation of death. In the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, a person unites their suffering with the Lord Jesus’ suffering and in so doing makes a beautiful prayer to the Lord.
Who can receive Anointing of the Sick?
Any baptized person of the age of reason in danger of death from sickness or old age, before serious operations, or suffering from serious illness can receive the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. A person can receive this sacrament again if he or she recovers to health and has another case of grave illness, or during the same illness the person’s condition becomes more serious.
Who is the minister of Anointing of the Sick?
Jesus gave the power and authority to the Apostles and their successors to heal the Sick. “Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons” (MT.10:8). St. James describes this same power and authority “Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone in good spirits? He should sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint (him) with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven” (James 5:13-15). Through Apostolic Succession our present day bishops and priests have received that same power given by Christ to heal the Sick. Only bishops and priests have the power and authority to celebrate the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.
What is needed for Anointing of the Sick?
The essential elements for the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick are the proper form, matter, and intentions. The proper form in the Latin Rite is the words of said by the minister “Through this holy anointing may 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.” The proper matter consists of the minister anointing the recipient with the Oil of the Sick and the Laying on of Hands. The minister must intend to do what the Church intends for the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.