Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick

Q. What is Anointing of the Sick?+

The Gospels tell us of several encounters of healing and hope that Jesus Christ brought to the sick and their families. Following His death and resurrection, Jesus empowered the Church to continue His mission through the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. As in all sacraments, we encounter Christ, our merciful Lord. The catechism teaches that in the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick the person is united to the passion of Christ, and receives strength, peace and courage to endure suffering in a Christian manner. One’s sins are forgiven. Health may be restored if it is conducive to the salvation of the soul. Of primary importance and immense comfort, this sacrament prepares the person for passing from this life to eternal life (CCC 1532)

Q. Who should receive the Anointing of the Sick?+

Although many people know this sacrament as “The Last Rites” or “Extreme Unction,” the sacrament is not only for those who are at the point of death. Indeed, the Church encourages any baptized Catholic who is facing serious illness, surgery or frailty to receive it. And it can be received as often as needed. Ideally, whenever possible, the sacrament is celebrated while the sick person is able to take part in the prayers and receive Holy Communion. However, the grace of the sacrament is still effective even when the person is unconscious.

Q. How is Anointing of the Sick celebrated?+

Anointing of the Sick is celebrated by a priest in the hospital, at home, or in the parish church. Celebration of the sacrament includes prayers, Scripture readings, anointing with sacred oil, and reception of Holy Communion. The priest will also provide an opportunity for confession if the sick person desires it. Family and friends are encouraged to be present in prayerful support for the sick person (except during confession)

The Final Sacrament of Anointing

When death is near, call a priest to administer the sacrament. In the event of an emergency, call the parish office, day or night, to connect with the pastor or Priest On Call. Any hospital can also call the Catholic priest assigned to that hospital. Simply ask the care staff or call the hospital switchboard. Ideally, a priest or deacon will be present at the time of death, but when that is not possible, a lay chaplain or one of those present may say this prayer for the Commendation of the Dying:

I commend you, my dear brother/sister, to almighty God, and entrust you to Your Creator. May you return to Him who formed you from the dust of the earth. May our blessed mother, Mary, the angels, and all the saints come to meet you as you go forth from this life. May Christ who was crucified for you bring you freedom and peace. May Christ who died for you admit you into His garden of paradise. May Christ, the true Shepherd, acknowledge you as one of His flock. May He forgive you all your sins, and set you among those He has chosen. May you see your Redeemer face to face, and enjoy the vision of God forever. Amen

Catholic Funerals

Ties of friendship and bonds of love do not end with death. A Catholic funeral is a celebration of our faith in the Lord’s mercy and kindness and is a sign of the hope and consolation we offer to those who are grieving.

Q. Who can have a Catholic funeral?+

A Catholic funeral is a celebration of our faith in the Lord’s mercy and kindness and is a sign of the hope and consolation we offer to those who are bereaved. A Catholic funeral is not a reward for a good life but an expression of the care of Christ and the Church for a member whose earthly journey has ended. The baptized and catechumens, saints and sinners, rich and poor, people who went to church every day and people who have not practised their faith in years are all members of the Church and can all have a Catholic funeral.

Q. Why have a Catholic funeral?+

A person may be tempted to spare friends and relatives the pain and expense of elaborate funeral ceremonies. But the bereaved may need this opportunity to express their loss and support for one another. Catholics are encouraged to experience the richness of traditional funeral and burial rites—to honour the deceased person and to comfort those who mourn. The funeral rites are our opportunity to express the care and love we gave to the deceased throughout their last years and their final illness. Our prayers for the dead accompany them on their journey to God’s Kingdom and assure them of the support and presence of the Body of Christ that began at Baptism, was expressed in the Sacrament of the Sick, and was strengthened in Holy Communion throughout their lives and during their time of illness.

More information on Catholic Funerals and Burial:

Catholics and Cremation

Cremation and Funeral Liturgies