Anointing of the Sick
The sacrament of anointing of the sick began as a ritual of healing. Over time the emphasis shifted to the forgiveness of sins on the deathbed, when such forgiveness would be the final preparation for heaven. The Second Vatican Council returned the original meaning to the sacrament by emphasizing that it is not only for those who are at the point of death, but for anyone who is seriously ill, including mental or spiritual illness. It also helped move the Anointing away from a private service and back toward a community-based one.
Today we are all aware that tensions, fear and anxiety about the future affect not only our mind but our body as well. These illnesses can be serious. They can move us to ask for the healing touch of Christ in the Sacrament of Anointing. Persons with the disease of alcoholism or persons suffering from other addictions can be anointed. So can those who suffer from various mental disorders. The anxiety before exploratory surgery to determine if cancer is present is a situation in which Christ’s power can be invoked in the sacrament.
In these cases the person does not have to wait until the illness is so grave that he or she is in the hospital or institutionalized to celebrate the sacrament. Sacraments, after all, are community celebrations. It is preferable to celebrate them in the context of family and parish even before going to the hospital. The sick person has a better opportunity to appreciate the prayers and symbols of the rite when in her or his customary worshiping community.
Sacred Heart we have an Anointing Mass once per year, usually in mid-October. Within the context of the Mass all who are ill, whether physically, psychologically, or spiritually, are invited to attend the Mass and celebrate as community, the sacrament of the anointing of the sick.
Throughout the year, if you are faced with severe illness or impending serious surgery, you are encouraged to contact the parish office to arrange to receive the sacrament.
If hospitalized, be sure to alert the intake persons that you are Catholic and the Pastoral Care office will see that the Catholic priest, assigned to that hospital as Chaplain, stops by to see you in the hospital.
To arrange to be anointed while ill and at home, or in advance of serious surgery, please call the parish office.