The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick

“Is any among you sick? Let him call for the presbyters of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.”

James 5:14

Grave illness brings with it a host of struggles: physical discomforts, lifestyle changes, mental anguish and emotional sensitivity. Facing the danger of death from illness - or simply from old age - also brings the spiritual challenge of wrestling with the reality of dying and the question of where we stand before God. The sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick offers special graces – including strength, peace and courage - to lighten the burden of these very trials and to help us deepen our trust in God (cf. CCC #1520). In continuing to celebrate the Anointing of the Sick, just as the first apostles did, the Church carries out Christ’s command to heal the sick (cf. Mt 10:8). Of course physical healing can be part of this sacramental restoration if it is God’s will, but healing the sickness of the soul through the forgiveness of sins is primary. Thus this sacred anointing and the prayers accompanying it prepare a person to enter eternal life. In addition, this rite, which may be received more than once, gives illness itself a profound power by uniting the sufferings of the Christian to the sufferings of Christ himself (cf. CCC #1521).

“In the Cross of Christ not only is the Redemption accomplished through suffering, but also human suffering itself has been redeemed.”

Saint Pope John Paul II