Anointing of the Sick
Through the sacrament of anointing, Christ strengthens the faithful who are afflicted by illness, providing them with the strongest means of support. Jesus showed great concern for the bodily and spiritual welfare of the sick and commanded his followers to do the same. The celebration of this sacrament is an opportunity for the deepening of the faith of the community who are able to witness the faith and devotion of those being anointed.
What is the purpose of the Sacrament?
The Lord himself showed great concern for the bodily and spiritual welfare of the sick and commanded his apostles to do likewise. Those who are seriously ill need the special help of God's grace in this time of anxiety, lest they be broken in spirit and, under the pressure of temptation, perhaps weakened in their faith. That is why through this sacrament Christ strengthens the faithful, providing them with the strongest means of support (Pastoral Care of the Sick #5).
Helpful points about the Sacrament
-Only those who are seriously impaired by sickness, old age, or will be having surgery for a serious issue are encouraged to receive the sacrament.
-If you are hospitalized make it known that you are Catholic and inform your parish of your desire for pastoral care.
-You should make a good confession before receiving the sacrament. The Sacrament of Penance can be a part of the Rite of Anointing of the Sick.
-Viaticum is distinct from the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. Viaticum is the reception of Holy Communion for a dying Christian and food for the journey on the way to Eternal Life.
Should someone wait to the last minute to receive the Sacrament?
No, they should receive the sacrament at the earliest onset of the serious condition. The sacrament gives the grace of the Holy Spirit to those who are sick: sustained trust in God, strength against the temptations of the Evil One and against anxiety over death. This grace helps the person to bear suffering bravely, and also to fight against it (Pastoral Care of Sick #6).