Anointing of the Sick
Is 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, 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. (James 5:14-15)
These words from the Epistle of James form the basis for the institution of the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. Many people still refer to this as “the Last Rites,” which refers to the previous name of the sacrament – “Extreme Unction.” However, Vatican Council II changed this sacrament radically from a sacrament to be given to the dying to what it is today, as sacrament to be given to those who are suffering from a serious illness or disability, or are simply in advanced age.
The sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is administered to bring healing – spiritual, mental, emotional and even physical – to those in need. It may also be given to those in danger of death, although Viaticum or Holy Communion is more appropriate at the time of death if the person is able to receive it.
Family members are encouraged to call the Parish Office and ask for a priest to administer the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick when they have family members who are in need of it, whether at home or in the hospital or in a nursing home. Because of HIPPA regulations, the hospital or nursing home may not be able to tell us if an individual is a patient, and so we rely on family members to inform the parish when someone is in need.