Last Rites, Sacrament of the Sick, Extreme Unction
The title mentions three things - are they all the same sacrament?
Yes, they are. "Last Rites" and "Extreme Unction" are the older names for
the Sacrament of the Sick
Isn't this the Sacrament people get when they are dying?
Yes, it is. But it can be given to anyone who is ill or even those with
What does the Sacrament of the Sick do for people?
This Sacrament is usually given along with confession, giving the dying
person a chance to reconcile themselves to God and go to Heaven.
If the person is not conscious then, obviously she or he can't do confession.
But in the Sacrament of the Sick, the individual will be receive a special
Grace (like in all Sacraments). This Grace prepares their soul to
meet God but also, in many cases, this Grace will make them better or even
heal them of their illness. This is why
the church encourages all sick people to receive the Sacrament of the Sick
and not just those who are dying.
What does the Baltimore Catechism say about the effects of the Sacrament
of the Sick?
Q. Which are the effects of the Sacrament of Extreme Unction?
A. The effects
of Extreme Unction are:
us in the pains of sickness and to strengthen us against temptation;
remit venial sins and to cleanse our soul from the remains of sin;
restore us to health, when God sees fit.
275. Q. What
do you mean by the remains of sin?
A. By the remains
of sin I mean the inclination to evil and the weakness of the will which
are the result of our sins, and which remain after our sins have been forgiven.
Is there a basis in the Bible for giving the Sacrament of the Sick?
Yes, we are told in the Bible that the church should offer this Sacrament
in James 5:14ff
anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters of the
church, and they should pray over him and anoint (him) with oil in
the name of the Lord,
In this passage, "Presbyters" was the word used for
"Priests" in the early church. The Sacrament of the Sick is a Sacrament
which can be given to people by the priest (some Sacraments require a Bishop
15 and the prayer
of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If
he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven.
Why is the oil used for this Sacrament?
All Sacraments have a visible sign of the bestowing of God's Grace which
is not visible to our eyes. The oil used in the Sacrament of the
Sick has been blessed by the priest and is called "Holy Oil". When
the priest annoints you with Holy Oil, this is the sign which tells you
that God is pouring out His Special Grace through this Sacrament.
When can I receive the Sacrament of the Sick if I am ill, injured or otherwise
Most parishes have a 'healing Mass' (usually held on Saturday morning)
a few times a year. But if you need it right now (like you broke
your leg, for example), usually you can arrange with your parish priest
to have him give it to you. I would really recommend you get it because
even if you are not cured instantly (and this does happen occasionally),
this healing sacrament will not only give you peace and serenity in your
soul, it will also help your body to heal. I know - been there, done
Source:New American Bible, Baltimore Catechism
Article by Sue Widemark
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