Anointing of the Sick
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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.”
More about the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick from our Pastor:
The sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Reconciliation were all given to us by Jesus Christ in order to renew us and strengthen us in God’s love. But let’s consider the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. In the past, this sacrament was known as “extreme unction” and was generally given in the proximity of death, but the Church in her wisdom and guided by the Holy Spirit who “leads us to the fullness of truth”, teaches us that we can receive this sacrament more than once and that it can be administered, not only in extreme moments but also in the case of serious illness, or before a serious operation.
The anointing of the sick is a sacrament which has the principle effect of healing and preparing our soul for our definitive encounter with Christ in Heaven, but it also can have the effect of healing our bodies if it is God’s will. Often times the former is what is needed so that the latter can be obtained. Sooner or later we will go to meet our maker and our bodies will lie in death. All the medicine and all the technology in the world cannot stop the inevitable. Our life is a gift from God and one that we need to live in harmony with his holy will, in order to have peace in our souls and truly be in “good health”. God, in this sacrament, wants us to be aware of his presence with us in the midst of our suffering, both spiritually and physically. When Jesus died on the cross for us, he experienced human suffering in its greatest depths and in this way associated himself with all those who suffer to such a degree that no one can say: “God does not understand what I am going through” or “God has abandoned me”.
Jesus took our suffering upon himself so as to redeem us through it and to give it a redemptive meaning. When we unite our suffering to His, He makes it his own and offers it to the Father for the salvation of souls. In this way we make up in ourselves, what is lacking in the suffering of Christ, as St. Paul says in his letters, meaning that as the body of Christ, we are united to his perfect gift of love to the Father on the cross. Christ allows us to share with him in this gift.
Often as a priest I visit the sick and administer this sacrament and I have seen clearly how souls that are suffering find peace when they unite themselves to Jesus and offer their pain for their loved ones or souls in need of grace. It does not take the pain away, but it does give it meaning and brings interior peace to their souls. I firmly believe that when those who are suffering, unite themselves to Christ on the cross in this way, they do more for souls than I ever could with all my preaching and teaching. We are nothing without Christ and he works through us for the good of others.
Please do not hesitate to call me or Fr. José or any priest when you or one of your loved ones are in need of this sacrament. Do not wait until it becomes an emergency. The graces this sacrament gives are needed now for those who suffer and may even be the means of their physical healing if God so wills. Count on my prayers and constant concern for all of you and know that Jesus is and always will be the true doctor of your hearts and souls and bodies, to give you strength in this life and the life to come.
God bless and keep you always!
Fr. Thomas Bennett