Anointing of the Sick
The Sacrament of the Sick, or Anointing of the Sick, is the application by the church of the ministry of Jesus to those who were in need of healing. It is the prayer of the Church community for the person who is seriously ill or is experiencing the weakness if old age. Serious illness includes chronic pain, illnesses that confine one to bed or to the house, or illnesses that need hospitalisation.
Sacraments are meant for the living. Therefore, it is inappropriate to give the Anointing of the Sick after death has occurred. If a person has died, prayers commending that person to God are the normal action of the Church, and it is good of family members are present for these prayers.
Sometimes people speak of the LAST RITES of the Catholic Church. What does this mean?
The Anointing of the Sick is NOT the last rites of the Church. A Latin word “VIATICUM”, which means “going with you” or “on the way with you” is used to refer to Holy Communion received by a person who is near death and is the gift of Jesus himself accompanying the dying person in the journey from this life to the next. This, with the sacrament of reconciliation and the anointing of the sick makes up the full “Last Rites” of the Church. At such times the anointing of the sick is administered because it is about inner healing as well as physical healing but it should not be forgotten that Holy Communion is also a healing sacrament.
“Is anyone among you sick? Let him call in the presbyters of the Church and let them pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord”