When a Catholic is very sick, the Church anoints the person with oil in a special ritual of healing called “Anointing of the Sick”. Traditionally referred to as Extreme Unction or Last Rites, the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick can now be administered to those whose health is seriously impaired by sickness or age. This includes people who are:
- now seriously ill
- temporarily ill or convalescing
- chronically ill (heart condition, diabetes, asthma, etc.)
- emotionally troubles
- struggling with addiction
- elderly even is no serious illness is present
- preparing for surgery.
The Anointing of the Sick is administered to bring spiritual and even physical strength, during an illness, especially near the time of death. This Rite is performed to convey God’s grace to the recipient, through the power of the Holy Spirit. The healing offered by the Anointing is forgiveness of sins, hope and inner peace, sometimes physical healing, and an assurance of God’s steadfast care, even in death.
Anointing of the Sick Ritual
This sacrament is administered by priest applying the blessed oil to the forehead and hands of the sick, accompanied by prayer. Any baptized person who has reached the age of reason can receive Anointing of the Sick. The priest will adapt the sacrament ceremony to suit the occasion. An anointing for a child will be different from an elderly person.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is often given before the Anointing. Others present may also confess their sins. The priest performing the anointing will sprinkle holy water as a reminder of the first sacrament of baptism, read from the bible and say prayers for the person being anointed.
The priest will quietly lay his hands on the person being anointed as hands are used to comfort. Jesus Christ often used his hand-touch to heal the sick. The use of the priest’s hands is a sign the Holy Spirit is being called down to support the sick person. The forehead and hands of the sick person are anointed with oil. The ceremony may end with all those present joining in the Lord’s Prayer.
If the person is in all likelihood dying, they may be given the Eucharist. This is known as the Viaticum, a final meal for the final life journey thru death. If the person has not been confirmed, the priest may offer this sacrament, too.
How to arrange for the Sacrament
Only a priest may administer the Anointing of the Sick. At some hospitals, there is a Catholic priest on call for the Anointing of the Sick. If you or a loved one is hospitalized, you should inquire as to whether such a priest is available.
To request to have this sacrament administered at home, at a nursing facility or when no hospital chaplain is available, please call the Parish Office.
St. Norbert Parish periodically holds Anointing at weekend Masses. Check the Bulletin and the website for upcoming Masses. Special arrangements may be requested for a specific Mass day/time. Please contact the Parish Office.
Click on the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) for more information.