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Anointing of the Sick

Anointing of the Sick, formerly known as Extreme Unction, is a sacrament that is administered to give strength and comfort to the ill and to mystically unite their suffering with that of Christ during his Passion and death. This sacrament can be given to those who are afflicted with serious illness or injury, those who are awaiting surgery, the weakened elderly, or to ill children who are old enough to understand its significance. A person can receive the sacrament as many times as needed throughout their life, and a person with a chronic illness might be anointed again if the disease worsens. The rite can be performed in a home or hospital by a priest, who prays over the person and anoints their head and hands with chrism (holy oil). The priest may also administer the sacrament of the Eucharist if the person has been unable to receive it and can hear a confession if so desired. If a person is at the point of death, the priest also administers a special Apostolic blessing in what is known as the Last Rites. 

Only bishops and priests may be ministers of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. A penitential rite followed by the Liturgy of the Word opens the celebration. Scripture awakens the faith of the sick and family members and friends to pray to Christ for the strength of his Holy Spirit. The priest lays his hands on the head of the sick person. He then proceeds to anoint, with the blessed Oil of the Sick, the forehead and hands of the sick person (in the Roman Rite). He accompanies these acts with the words, "Through this holy anointing may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit. May the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up" (CCC, no. 1513).

For those who are about to depart from this life, the Church offers the person Penance, Anointing of the Sick, and the Eucharist as Viaticum (food for the journey) given at the end of life. These are "the sacraments that prepare for our heavenly homeland" (cf. CCC, no. 1525). These rites are highly valued by Catholics as powerful aids to a good death. Since Holy Communion is the effective sign of Christ's Paschal Mystery, it becomes for the recipient the opportunity to unite one's own suffering and dying to that of Christ with the hope of life eternal with him. The special words proper to Viaticum are added: "May the Lord Jesus protect you and lead you to everlasting life. Amen."


Please call the Ministry Center at (619) 444-9425 to request a priest for the Anointing of the Sick.