The Anointing of the Sick

“Are there people who are sick among you?  Let them send for the priests of the Church, and let the priests pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord.  The prayer of faith will save the sick persons and the Lord will raise them up.”  James 5:14-15

The Anointing of the Sick was instituted by Jesus Christ during his earthly ministry. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains, “This sacred anointing of the sick was instituted by Christ our Lord as a true and proper sacrament of the New Testament. It is alluded to indeed by Mark, but is recommended to the faithful and promulgated by James the apostle and brother of the Lord.” (CCC 1511; Mark 6:13; James 5:14-15)

By the sacred anointing of the sick and the prayer of the priests the whole Church commends those who are ill to the suffering and glorified Lord, that he may raise them up and save them and indeed she exhorts them to contribute to the good of the People of God by freely uniting themselves to the Passion and death of Christ.
Catechism of the Catholic Church 1499

In former days, this sacrament was often called Extreme Unction, that is, the last anointing prior to death.  In the reforms of Vatican II, the sacrament was properly defined as restorative and healing in nature, and is not to be reserved until only prior to death.  A person who is facing surgery, serious illness or a chronic health condition benefits from the divine graces imparted by the Anointing of the Sick.

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