The anointing of the sick is administered to bring spiritual and physical strength during an illness, even near the time of death. A sacrament is an outward sign instituted by Jesus Christ to confer inward grace. To receive the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, please contact one of our parish priests at 714-842-3000.
ANOINTING OF THE SICK
The Lord himself showed great concern for the bodily and spiritual welfare of the sick and commanded his followers to do likewise. This is clear from the gospels, and above all from the existence of the sacrament of anointing, which he instituted and which is made known in the Letter of James. Since then the Church has never ceased to celebrate this sacrament for its members by the anointing and the prayer of its priests, commending those who are ill to the suffering and glorified Lord, that he may raise them up and save them (see James 5: 14-16). Moreover, the Church exhorts them to associate themselves willingly with the passion and death of Christ (see Romans 8:17), and thus contribute to the welfare of the people of God.
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.
This is why, through the sacrament of anointing, Christ strengthens the faithful who are afflicted by illness, providing them with the strongest means of support.
The celebration of this sacrament consists especially in the laying on of hands by the priests of the Church, the offering of the prayer of faith, and the anointing of the sick with oil made holy by God’s blessing. This rite signifies the grace of the sacrament and confers it.
This sacrament gives the grace of the Holy Spirit to those who are sick: by this grace the whole person is helped and saved, sustained by trust in God, and strengthened against the temptations of the Evil One and against anxiety over death. Thus the sick person is able not only to bear suffering bravely, but also to fight against it. A return to physical health may follow the reception of this sacrament if it will be beneficial to the sick person’s salvation. If necessary, the sacrament also provides the sick person with the forgiveness of sins and the completion of Christian penance.
In the anointing of the sick, which includes the prayer of faith (see James 5: 15), faith itself is manifested. Above all this faith must be made actual both in the minister of the sacrament and, even more importantly, in the recipient. The sick person will be saved by personal faith and the faith of the Church, which looks back to the death and resurrection of Christ, the source of the sacrament’s power (see James 5: 15), and looks ahead to the future kingdom that is pledged in the sacraments.
RECIPIENTS OF THE ANOINTING OF THE SICK
The Letter of James states that the sick are to be anointed in order to raise them up and save them. Great care and concern should be taken to see that those of the faithful whose health is seriously* impaired by sickness or old age receive this sacrament.
A prudent or reasonably sure judgment, without scruple, is sufficient for deciding on the seriousness of an illness; if necessary a doctor may be consulted.
The sacrament may be repeated if the sick person recovers after being anointed and then again falls ill or if during the same illness the person’s condition becomes more serious.
A sick person may be anointed before surgery whenever a serious illness is the reason for the surgery.
Elderly people may be anointed if they have become notably weakened even though no serious illness is present.
HUMAN SICKNESS AND ITS MEANING IN THE MYSTERY OF SALVATION
Suffering and illness have always been among the greatest problems that trouble the human spirit. Christians feel and experience pain as do all other people; yet their faith helps them to grasp more deeply the mystery of suffering and to bear their pain with greater courage. From Christ’s words they know that sickness has meaning and value for their own salvation and for the salvation of
the world. They also know that Christ, who during his life often visited and healed the sick, loves them in their illness.
*The word periculose has been carefully studied and rendered as “seriously,” rather than as “gravely,” “dangerously,” or “perilously.” Such a rendering will serve to avoid restrictions upon the celebration of the sacrament. On the one hand, the sacrament may and should be given to anyone whose health is seriously impaired; on the other hand, it may not be given indiscriminately or to any person whose health is not seriously impaired.