The Sacrament of Healing
Anointing the Sick
To support and strengthen those who are sick, the Church gathers to pray and anoint those who are ailing with the healing oil of the sick. This oil symbolizes the presence of God at a time of great physical and emotional need and assures the recipient of God’s love and healing presence to give strength and hope. According to the Letter of James 5:14-16, the people are to bring the sick to the priest so that they can be anointed and prayer can be offered on their behalf. Jesus showed great care for those who were sick and was concerned with their bodily and spiritual well-being. Because of this, the Church has developed a ritual to pray with and for those who are ill. It is our belief that through the Sacrament of the Sick, Christ strengthens those who are ill so that they might be at peace and have the courage to fight their illness
The Anointing of the Sick conveys several graces and imparts gifts of strengthening in the Holy Spirit against anxiety, discouragement, and temptation, and conveys peace and fortitude. Anointing with sacred oil is a sign of blessing by the Holy Spirit of the one who is sick. Oil of the Sick, which receives a different blessing from the Chrism oil used during Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders, recalls the community’s sharing of the Holy Spirit and the sick person’s connection to the entire Body of Christ and Communion of Saints.
Who may Receive the Anointing?
Does a person have to be dying to receive this sacrament? No. The Catechism says, "The Anointing of the Sick is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death. Hence, as soon as anyone of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for him to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived" (CCC 1514). Any baptized Catholic who is seriously ill and has sufficient reason to be comforted by the Sacrament may receive it. The Sacrament may be repeated if the sick person recovers after the anointing but becomes ill once again, or if, during the same illness, the person's condition becomes more serious. A person should be anointed before surgery when a dangerous illness is the reason for the intervention. 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).
Through Anointing, the sick are reminded that Christ and the Church are in communion with their suffering. The Holy Spirit shares the blessings of health, trust in God, and strength against temptation. The special grace of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick has as its effects:
- the uniting of the sick person to the Passion of Christ, for his own good and that of the whole Church
- the strengthening, peace, and courage to endure in a Christian manner the sufferings of illness or old age
- the forgiveness of sins, if the sick person was not able to obtain it through the Sacrament of Penance
- the restoration of health, if it is conducive to the salvation of his soul
- the preparation for passing over to eternal life.
How often can one be Anointed?
Any baptized Catholic who is seriously ill and has sufficient reason to be comforted by the Sacrament may receive it. The Sacrament may be repeated if the sick person recovers after the anointing but becomes ill once again, or if, during the same illness, the person's condition becomes more serious. A person should be anointed before surgery when a dangerous illness is the reason for the intervention. While it is possible that the Sacrament could bring physical healing, Anointing of the Sick is primarily about the healing of hope and of the spirit. Above all, the Sacrament allows the person who is ill to unite more closely to Christ’s Passion. This gives suffering a new meaning: a participation in the saving work of Jesus. This is a powerful witness that is for the good of the whole Church (CCC, nos. 1521-22).
In the Sacrament we pray that the sick be healed in body, in soul and in spirit. God alone knows what kind of healing the sick need most: that a wound be healed; that a fear turn to confidence; that loneliness be embraced by the support of a praying community; that confusion in the face of all the whys—why me, why suffering, why now—turn to insight. The Sacrament of Anointing does not remove the mystery of human suffering. Yet its celebration gives us a window into the mystery of a loving God. Our loving God raises up the crucified Son to display His victorious wounds, sitting triumphant at the Father's right hand.
How to Schedule an Anointing
- Emergencies during office hours, call (704) 334-2283
- Emergencies after office hours, call (704) 334-2283
- For non-emergencies such as scheduled surgeries or hospitalization, call (704) 334-2283
When should someone receive the Anointing of the Sick?
A Catholic Guide to End-of-Life Decisions
Who can administer the Anointing of the Sick?
How often can one be anointed?
How do you Schedule an Anointing?
Charlotte, NC 28203
Fax: (704) 377-6403