Anointing of the Sick (Last Rites)
“Not to oppose error is to approve it, and not to defend the truth is to suppress it” – Pope St. Felix III
Note: In this report I may occasionally use bold print, Italics, or word underlining for emphasis. This will be my personal emphasis and not that of the source that I am quoting.
Karen: To make [the] answers easier to understand, I have separated your questions. Ron
Ron, What if a person is given a plenary blessing at last rites and has not been a faithful attendant at Mass every Sunday, but is still a good person? Karen
It seems your question here deals with ‘does a plenary indulgence take effect when Anointing of the Sick is given if the person had not been a regular Mass attendee because of sickness and nursing home confinement’. Yes! If Mass attendance (Sundays and holy days) is not possible because of legitimate excuses (weather, ill, in hospital or nursing home, no transportation available, etc.) we are excused from the obligation to attend. “On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass.”
“If because of a lack of a sacred minister or for other grave cause participation in the Eucharist is impossible, it is especially recommended that the faithful take part in the liturgy of the word if it is celebrated in the parish church or in another sacred place according to the prescriptions of the diocesan bishop, or engage in prayer for an appropriate amount of time personally or in a family or, as occasion offers, in groups of families.”
“The fruits proper to this Sacrament (Anointing of the Sick, Last Rites, Extreme Unction), as St. James declares, are the remission of sins, health of soul, strength in mind and body. But if it does not always produce this last result, it always, at least, restores the soul to a better state by the forgiveness of sins. This is precisely the Catholic teaching on this subject.”
“The form of the Sacrament (Extreme Unction) is the word and solemn prayer which the priest uses at each anointing: By this Holy Unction may God pardon thee whatever sins thou hast committed by the evil use of sight, smell or touch. That this is the true form of this Sacrament we learn from these words of St. James: Let them pray over him…and the prayer of faith shall save the sick man.”
What if the person has not been to confession and is unable to receive Communion because they have been in an accident? If their death is sudden or if they are taken ill and are unable to fulfill the requirements of the blessing will the priest still give them the blessing?
Yes. “This sacrament (anointing of the sick) is to be administered when there is doubt whether the sick person has attained the use of reason, whether the person is dangerously ill, or whether the person is dead.”
“This assistance from the Lord by the power of His Spirit is meant to lead the sick person to healing of the soul, but also of the body if such is God’s Will. Furthermore, if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”
Is this (Apostolic Blessing or Last Blessing) given to all at last rites? I am just wondering if they gave this to my father. His last rites were in Latin and I can’t remember what was said. It was the first time I had ever heard last rites and I was upset and at the same time very moved by the entire experience. He was a faithful Catholic and did receive Communion every week at the nursing home. I am just wondering for other situations.
Yes! “Priests who minister the sacraments to the Christian faithful who are in a life-and-death situation should not neglect to impart to them the apostolic blessing, with its attached indulgence. But if a priest cannot be present, holy mother Church lovingly grants such persons who are rightly disposed a plenary indulgence to be obtained in articulo mortis, at the approach of death, provided they regularly prayed in some way during their lifetime. The use of a crucifix or a cross is recommended in obtaining this plenary indulgence. In such a situation the three usual conditions required in order to gain a plenary indulgence are substituted for by the condition ‘provided they regularly prayed in some way’.”
Lastly Karen, many question the actual authority of Holy Church when it comes to forgiving sins, indulgences and the like. Remember what Jesus said to our first pope St. Peter: “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Jesus repeats this authority once again in St. Mathew 18:18 so He is obviously quite serious about the authority He has given to His church!
I hope I have answered your questions.
This report prepared on June 15, 2007 by Ronald Smith, 11701 Maplewood Road, Chardon, Ohio 44024-8482, E-mail: email@example.com. Readers may copy and distribute this report as desired to anyone as long as the content is not altered and it is copied in its entirety. In this little ministry I do free Catholic and occult related research and answer your questions. Questions are answered in this format with detailed footnotes on all quotes. If you would like to be on my list to get a copy of all Q&A’s I do, please send me a note. If you have a question(s), please submit it to this landmail or e-mail address. Answers are usually forthcoming within one week.
+ Let us recover by penance what we have lost by sin +
Storage of the Holy Oils
ROME, October 4, 2005 (Zenit.org) Answered by Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University.
Q: Can an altar be used to house and display the vessels containing the holy oils blessed during the Chrism Mass, i.e., in the same fashion as a reliquary is sometimes housed behind a metal grille within an altar (like those of St. Pius X and Blessed John XXIII in the Vatican basilica)? J.T., Clifton, England
A: Official norms regarding the storage of the holy oils are somewhat scant. The Rite of the Blessing of Oils and Consecrating the Chrism 27-28 indicates that in the sacristy after the Chrism Mass the bishop may instruct the presbyters about the reverent use and safe custody of the holy oils.
There is a growing practice in the Church of visibly displaying the holy oils. These are usually stored, locked, in a niche in the sanctuary wall called an ambry or aumbry.
Apart from the presbytery the ambry is often located near the baptismal font and this is most appropriate in churches with a distinct baptistery. The ambry may also sometimes be placed within the sacristy.
The oils are usually kept in silver or pewter vessels, albeit these often have glass interiors for the sake of practicality. Each vessel should also have some inscription indicating the contents such as CHR (Chrism), CAT (Catechumens) or O.I. (“oleum infirmorum”).
The visible display of the holy oils, by means of a grille of a transparent door, does not seem to present a particular problem and in some cases serves to avoid exchanging an ambry for a tabernacle. If the door is opaque it should usually have an indication either near or upon it saying “Holy oils.”
The use of an altar as an ambry in the manner described in your question would detract from the centrality of the altar. I do not consider it appropriate.
There is also no precedent for such a practice in the tradition of the Church as she has usually only placed the relics of the saints beneath the altar.
It might be acceptable, however, to locate an ambry above an old side altar no longer used for celebrating the Eucharist. But placing it below would likely lead to having the oils confused with relics.
Stretching the issue, one could even adduce a certain historical precedent in the fact that, in some ancient churches, when the tabernacle was almost universally transferred to the high altar after the 16th century, the former wall tabernacle was used to store the holy oils.
Apart from the holy oils stored in the ambry, priests may also keep smaller stocks on hand of the oil for anointing the sick.
More on Holy Oils
ROME, October 18, 2005 (Zenit.org) by Father Edward McNamara
Pursuant to our replies regarding the public display of the holy oils (October 4) several questions turned upon their proper use outside of the sacraments themselves.
Several readers asked if holy oils may be used in blessings in lieu of holy water or for other paraliturgical acts, for example, in retreats or commissioning ceremonies in which teachers or catechists are anointed.
The question is difficult to respond to from the viewpoint of official documents as, in all probability, it probably had never entered into anybody’s head that such things would occur.
Apart from the use of holy oils for the sacraments, the sacred chrism is also used by the bishop in solemnly dedicating a church and an altar. Apart from these, the official rituals of the Church do not foresee other uses for the holy oils.
One official document refers to the incorrect use of anointing by lay people. In the Instruction “On Certain Questions Regarding the Collaboration of the Non-ordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of the Priest” (1997), Article 9 states:
“The non-ordained faithful particularly assist the sick by being with them in difficult moments, encouraging them to receive the Sacraments of Penance and the Anointing of the Sick, by helping them to have the disposition to make a good individual confession as well as to prepare them to receive the Anointing of the Sick. In using sacramentals, the non-ordained faithful should ensure that these are in no way regarded as sacraments whose administration is proper and exclusive to the Bishop and to the priest. Since they are not priests, in no instance may the non-ordained perform anointings either with the Oil of the Sick or any other oil.”
This document certainly only refers to a very specific case but it encapsulates an important principle: that of not creating confusion regarding the sacramental signs.
Some sacramental signs have but one meaning and are never repeated even for devotional purposes. For example, baptism’s unrepeatable nature precludes the repetition of the rite although a person could devoutly renew his baptismal promises on his anniversary.
Other signs, such as the laying on of hands, have more than one meaning and may be used in several contexts. It can mean consecration and the gift of the Holy Spirit in the rites of ordination and confirmation, forgiveness in the sacrament of reconciliation, and healing in the sacrament of anointing as well as within the extra-sacramental context of some recent spiritual currents such as the charismatic renewal.
The case of anointing is closer to the first case (baptism) than the second. Although there might be no explicit prohibition, liturgical law usually presupposes a certain degree of common sense. And the use of holy oil, or any other oil, for extra-sacramental anointing can only lead to inappropriate confusion with the sacramental rites as such.
It also ignores the fact that the Church already has a rich source of rituals and prayers in the Book of Blessings which can easily be used or adapted for practically every situation in which these oils have been adopted.
This does not mean that oil may never be used in any other Catholic rituals. In some places, on the occasion of a particular feast in honor of Mary or a saint, it is customary to celebrate a rite of blessings of food or drink (including oil).
The Book of Blessings admonishes pastors to ensure that the faithful have a correct understanding of the true meaning of such blessings so as to avoid superstitions.
Anointing of the Sick
ROME, July 4, 2006 (Zenit.org) Answered by Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.
Q: My wife and I go to Mass on first Saturdays to this church where the normal priest offers confession, Mass and anointing of the sick. Now, the normal priest was not there, but our new priest stood in for the normal priest.
When the Mass was over the priest said: “Before, I give the anointing of the sick, I want it to be known that I will give it only to those who are: sick, dying, have a serious illness, or in danger of losing their life. Too many people abuse this sacrament.” Was he right in making that statement? J.C., Corpus Christi, TX.
A: I have no idea if the manner or tone of the priest’s statement was done with due pastoral tact. But he is correct as to the substance of the norms for administering the anointing of the sick.
Under present norms the sacrament may be administered “as soon as any one 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” (Code of Canon Law 1004 §1).
The provisions of the ritual “for the anointing of the sick and their pastoral care,” issued by the Holy See, clarifies the conditions under which the sacrament may be received.
Regarding the judgment as to the seriousness of the illness the document states that: “It is sufficient to have a prudent or probable judgment about its seriousness. All anxiety about the matter should be put aside and, if necessary, the physician might be consulted.”
Also: “This sacrament can be repeated if the sick person had recovered after his previous reception of anointing. It can also be conferred again if, during the same illness, his dangerous condition becomes more serious.”
Major surgery is also a sufficient motivation for receiving the sacrament even if the condition is not in itself immediately life-threatening: “Before a surgical section (popularly ‘operation’), holy anointing can be given to the sick person as often as the dangerous illness is the cause of this surgery.”
Here the Church distinguishes between an illness that might not of itself warrant reception of the sacrament, and the same illness preceding surgery. In the latter case, anointing becomes warranted.
With reference to the elderly: “Anointing can be conferred on the aged who are greatly weakened in strength, even though there is no sign of a dangerous illness.” In this case the anointing may be repeated periodically as old age progresses.
The sacrament can also be administered to sick children: “from the time they have reached the use of reason, so that they can be strengthened by this sacrament.” Consequently the motive for conferring the sacrament is not (though it may include) remission of their personal sins, but to obtain the strength they may need either for bearing their sufferings, or to overcome discouragement or, if it is God’s will, to be restored to health.
The sacrament may also be conferred on the unconscious if “as believers they would likely have asked for the holy anointing while they were in possession of their faculties.” Likewise, if a person is apparently dead but the priest “is in doubt whether the sick person is really dead, he can give him the sacrament conditionally.”
Therefore, although the Church’s dispositions allow for a generous administration of the anointing of the sick, the sacrament is ordered toward the gravely ill from a physical condition. It should not be administered generally and indiscriminately. [For follow-up, see page 6]
CONSTITUTION ON THE SACRED LITURGY SACROSANCTUM CONCILIUM SOLEMNLY PROMULGATED BY HIS HOLINESS POPE PAUL VI ON DECEMBER 4, 1963
73. “Extreme unction,” which may also and more fittingly be called “anointing of the sick,” is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death. Hence, as soon as any one 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.
74. In addition to the separate rites for anointing of the sick and for viaticum, a continuous rite shall be prepared according to which the sick man is anointed after he has made his confession and before he receives viaticum.
75. The number of the anointings is to be adapted to the occasion, and the prayers which belong to the rite of anointing are to be revised so as to correspond with the varying conditions of the sick who receive the sacrament.
POST-SYNODAL APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION SACRAMENTUM CARITATIS, THE HOLY FATHER BENEDICT XVI TO THE BISHOPS, CLERGY, CONSECRATED PERSONS AND THE LAY FAITHFUL ON THE EUCHARIST AS THE SOURCE AND SUMMIT OF THE CHURCH’S LIFE AND MISSION, FEBRUARY 22, 2007
February 22, 2007
III. The Eucharist and the Anointing of the sick
22. Jesus did not only send his disciples forth to heal the sick (cf. Mt 10:8; Lk 9:2, 10:9); he also instituted a specific sacrament for them: the Anointing of the Sick. (66) The Letter of James attests to the presence of this sacramental sign in the early Christian community (cf. 5:14-16). If the Eucharist shows how Christ’s sufferings and death have been transformed into love, the Anointing of the Sick, for its part, unites the sick with Christ’s self-offering for the salvation of all, so that they too, within the mystery of the communion of saints, can participate in the redemption of the world. The relationship between these two sacraments becomes clear in situations of serious illness: “In addition to the Anointing of the Sick, the Church offers those who are about to leave this life the Eucharist as viaticum.” (67) On their journey to the Father, communion in the Body and Blood of Christ appears as the seed of eternal life and the power of resurrection: “Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up on the last day” (Jn 6:54). Since viaticum gives the sick a glimpse of the fullness of the Paschal Mystery, its administration should be readily provided for. (68) Attentive pastoral care shown to those who are ill brings great spiritual benefit to the entire community, since whatever we do to one of the least of our brothers and sisters, we do to Jesus himself (cf. Mt 25:40). […]
Participation [in the Eucharist] by Christians who are not Catholic
56. The subject of participation in the Eucharist inevitably raises the question of Christians belonging to Churches or Ecclesial Communities not in full communion with the Catholic Church. In this regard, it must be said that the intrinsic link between the Eucharist and the Church’s unity inspires us to long for the day when we will be able to celebrate the Holy Eucharist together with all believers in Christ, and in this way to express visibly the fullness of unity that Christ willed for his disciples (cf. Jn 17:21). On the other hand, the respect we owe to the sacrament of Christ’s Body and Blood prevents us from making it a mere “means” to be used indiscriminately in order to attain that unity. (172) The Eucharist in fact not only manifests our personal communion with Jesus Christ, but also implies full communio with the Church. This is the reason why, sadly albeit not without hope, we ask Christians who are not Catholic to understand and respect our conviction, which is grounded in the Bible and Tradition. We hold that Eucharistic communion and ecclesial communion are so linked as to make it generally impossible for non-Catholic Christians to receive the former without enjoying the latter. There would be even less sense in actually concelebrating with ministers of Churches or ecclesial communities not in full communion with the Catholic Church. Yet it remains true that, for the sake of their eternal salvation, individual non-Catholic Christians can be admitted to the Eucharist, the sacrament of Reconciliation and the Anointing of the Sick. But this is possible only in specific, exceptional situations and requires that certain precisely defined conditions be met (173). These are clearly indicated in the
Catechism of the Catholic Church (174) and in its
Compendium (175). Everyone is obliged to observe these norms faithfully.
(66) Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1499-1532.
(67) Ibid., 1524.
(68) Cf. Propositio 44.
(172) Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Ut Unum Sint (25 May 1995), 8: AAS 87 (1995), 925-926.
(173) Cf. Propositio 41; Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Decree on Ecumenism Unitatis Redintegratio, 8, 15; John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Ut Unum Sint (25 May 1995), 46: AAS 87 (1995), 948; Encyclical Letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia (17 April 2003), 45-46: AAS 95 (2003), 463-464; Code of Canon Law, can. 844 §§ 3-4; Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, can. 671 §§ 3-4; Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Directoire pour l’application des principes et des normes sur l’œcuménisme (25 March 1993), 125, 129-131: AAS 85 (1993), 1087, 1088-1089.
(174) Cf. Nos. 1398-1401.
(175) Cf. No. 293.
POST-SYNODAL APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION VERBUM DOMINI OF THE HOLY FATHER BENEDICT XVI TO THE BISHOPS, CLERGY, CONSECRATED PERSONS AND THE LAY FAITHFUL ON THE WORD OF GOD IN THE LIFE AND MISSION OF THE CHURCH, SEPTEMBER 30, 2010
The word of God, Reconciliation and the Anointing of the Sick
Though the Eucharist certainly remains central to the relationship between God’s word and the sacraments, we must also stress the importance of sacred Scripture in the other sacraments, especially the sacraments of healing, namely the sacrament of Reconciliation or Penance, and the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. The role of sacred Scripture in these sacraments is often overlooked, yet it needs to be assured its proper place. We ought never to forget that “the word of God is a word of reconciliation, for in it God has reconciled all things to himself (cf. 2 Cor 5:18-20; Eph 1:10). The loving forgiveness of God, made flesh in Jesus, raises up the sinner”. “Through the word of God the Christian receives light to recognize his sins and is called to conversion and to confidence in God’s mercy”. To have a deeper experience of the reconciling power of God’s word, the individual penitent should be encouraged to prepare for confession by meditating on a suitable text of sacred Scripture and to begin confession by reading or listening to a biblical exhortation such as those provided in the rite. When expressing contrition it would be good if the penitent were to use “a prayer based on the words of Scripture”, such as those indicated in the rite. When possible, it would be good that at particular times of the year, or whenever the opportunity presents itself, individual confession by a number of penitents should take place within penitential celebrations as provided for by the ritual, with due respect for the different liturgical traditions; here greater time can be devoted to the celebration of the word through the use of suitable readings.
In the case of the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick too, it must not be forgotten that “the healing power of the word of God is a constant call to the listener’s personal conversion”. Sacred Scripture contains countless pages which speak of the consolation, support and healing which God brings. We can think particularly of Jesus’ own closeness to those who suffer, and how he, God’s incarnate Word, shouldered our pain and suffered out of love for us, thus giving meaning to sickness and death. It is good that in parishes and in hospitals, according to circumstances, community celebrations of the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick should be held. On these occasions greater space should be given to the celebration of the word, and the sick helped to endure their sufferings in faith, in union with the redemptive sacrifice of Christ who delivers us from evil.
The Rite of Penance, 17.
 Ibid., 19.
Follow-up: Anointing of the Sick [For the initial Q&A, see page 4]
ROME, July 18, 2006 (Zenit.org) by Father Edward McNamara…
Our piece on the anointing of the sick July 4 brought to mind a couple of related questions. A California reader asked:
“As my father was dying a year ago, the priest came to the house for the last rites. My father was prepared and expected to go to confession but the priest said it was not necessary. I pointed out to the priest that it had been at least 40 years since my father’s last confession, but the priest still declared it unnecessary and proceeded to anoint my father and give him holy Communion.
“Is anointing of the sick a sacrament of the living — where one needs to be in the state of sanctifying grace to receive it — or of the dead — such as baptism and penance, where one need not be in the state of grace to receive it?”
Although many sacramental theologians have moved away from the distinction between sacraments of the living and of the dead, this distinction does express a reality regarding the necessity of being in the state of grace in order to fruitfully receive most sacraments.
The, sacrament of anointing of the sick does forgive sins but this is not its principal effect. The Catechism, summarizing the effects of this sacrament, says in No. 1532:
“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.”
Thus, a person who is able and willing, should always be offered the opportunity to confess before receiving the anointing of the sick as this usually provides an added consolation and grace in the face of the difficulties of illness. The sacrament’s power to forgive sins is usually tied to the person’s being unable to go to confession.
In the precise case at hand, the priest, perhaps because of an erroneous idea regarding the effects of the sacrament, did not act according to the mind of the Church when he refused to hear the person’s confession.
This ignorance, coupled with the fact that the person was prepared and repentant, certainly meant that in this case he was “unable to receive forgiveness through the sacrament of penance” and so the anointing supplied the effect of forgiveness and the dying man received viaticum in the state of grace.
Another Californian asks: “Is the sacrament of the anointing of the sick reserved solely for those suffering a terminal illness or for those preparing to undergo surgery? May persons suffering from chronic illness, mental illness, spiritual illness and drug addiction receive this sacrament?”
As mentioned in our previous column the sacrament is for grave (but not necessarily terminal) physical illness. The sacrament may thus be given to people who have a grave chronic illness if this malady somehow places them in danger of death.
At least up till now, Catholic doctrine has not seen this sacrament as necessary for non life-threatening chronic illnesses, mental illnesses and conditions such as drug addiction and alcoholism. It could be given however, in the case of a dangerous situation that results from such conditions as a drug overdose.
For these ailments the usual means of grace are more often than not sufficient in helping us to overcome these burdens or at least bear patiently the trials permitted by God.
Among these means are frequent recourse to the sacraments of reconciliation and Eucharist, closeness to the Blessed Mother, as well as prayer and seeking spiritual guidance.
Anointing of the Sick
July 17, 2012
I received the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick and when I did, the priest said something to the sense that the anointing would stay with me for the rest of my life. I was too ill to inquire at the time as to what he had meant.
A while after the anointing, I became gravely ill and was in the Hospital. I thought I would pass. While in the hospital, I requested to see a Catholic Priest for the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. None were available. So, the hospital staff sent me someone else. I can’t remember, one was a woman, or maybe both were women. I kept putting in the request for a Catholic priest. So, they kept sending me people. But, none were Catholic! I did pray with each and asked for forgiveness of all my sins. One was Presbyterian. The other, I can’t remember. Oh, I think she was Lutheran… Anyway, I was extremely upset that not one Catholic priest was available But, then I remembered what the priest told me when I got my first anointing and felt that maybe I am covered.
Does this one anointing sort of cover me for the rest of my life? Say, if I pass away in a car accident or something sudden?
I really have no idea what that priest meant by saying the anointing would stay with me for the rest of my life… I am better. Thanks be to God. Praise the Lord! –Christina
No, the effects of the Sacrament of Anointing does not stay with you for life. If that were true, then the Church would not talk about repeating the Sacrament the next time one is in danger of death. This is not like the Sacrament of Baptism, Confirmation, or Holy Orders that can only be administered once. The Sacrament of Anointing can be administered however many times that it is needed.
I am always amazed at the ignorance of priests. Their ignorance can harm people.
As for the lack of a priest at the hospital, I wonder if the hospital ever actually tried to contact a priest. Since no priest was coming, I would have picked up the phone book and called a local parish and asked for a priest. I would have also contacted the head Chaplain at the hospital to inquire about the availability of priests.
This sounds suspicious to me. There may be a little spiritual warfare going on here, where the hospital or Chaplain office staff was “inspired” to not contact a priest for you, or maybe they just did not understand and were inconsiderate; I don’t know.
I do know, however, that in the face of possible death, God understands when the Sacraments are not available. Had you died, God would not hold it against you because no priest was around. God will judge your heart. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM
November 9, 2004
I got this from your website: The Laity, however, can make similar anointments with those to whom they have a paterfamilias relationship (a royal priestly relationship) such as with one’s family.
What exactly does it mean? Could you explain it fully? –Luis
It means that it is permissible to anoint your children, or your wife, with oil as long as you are not trying to perform the Sacrament of Anointing. Otherwise, without such relationship, we should not be “anointing” people with Holy Oil. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM
Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick for Oppressed/Obsessed
May 14, 2010
If a person’s priest tells them that they are oppressed/obsessed by the father of lies, but that they’re not possessed and hence cannot have the rite of Exorcism, is this OK?
The person has had these problems for months, ever since they came back to Faith. When the person first reported it to the priest, the priest used a prayer from the RCIA book. During the prayer, the person became minimally aware of the surroundings and the prayer and had an impulse to curse at the priest but did not do so out loud. The problems got worse over time. Recently, the priest offered the Sacrament of the Sick. The person was not happy about this and became frightened and said no. Then the priest offered to bless the person (not exorcism; just a regular priestly blessing) and the person became more frightened and said no but then submitted when she saw the hurt expression on the priest. The priest does not offer to bless the person now.
What should a person with these problems be doing? What should their priest-spiritual director be doing with them to help them? How can a person know if they are in good hands with a certain priest? –Maria
The Rite of Exorcism is performed only on those who have been determined possessed. The Rite is not used on those with lesser forms of demonization. Thus, the priest is correct that the Rite of Exorcism will not be used unless the person is possessed.
Given your description it is possible that the person in question is demonized, even though not possessed perhaps. In that case, the person needs to contact a Deliverance team such as ours. We are not taking any new clients until next October. If this person wants help he can submit a Help Request at that time.
In the meantime he should follow our Seven Steps to Self-Deliverance linked below. In addition you can certainly use prayers found in the Spiritual Warfare Prayer Catalog also linked below to pray for him*. Under no circumstances, however, should you, or any other non-trained person, try to do a deliverance upon this person.
There is no problem with the person receiving the Sacrament of the Sick if he is in danger of death. The Sacrament is not suppose to be given, however, to someone just because they are sick, is not to be repeated unless the person recovers and becomes dangerous ill again, and is not to be given to those who “obstinately persist in a manifestly grave sin.” (CIC 1004-1007). We will be in prayer for him. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM
*For information on how to receive help see our Help page. We suggest that before contacting us directly for help you try the Seven Steps to Self-Deliverance. These self-help steps will often resolve the problem. Also our Spiritual Warfare Prayer Catalog contains many prayers that may be helpful.
http://www.saint-mike.net/qa/sw/viewanswer.asp?QID=1220, May 18, 2010
Thank you for your reply to my last question. I didn’t make myself clear: The priest wanted to perform the Sacrament of the Sick (a.k.a. Last Rites) on the person to help them with their “spiritual illness” of oppression/obsession by the powers of darkness. The person was not physically ill at all. I was trying to find out if this was an appropriate use of the sacrament. –Maria
Actually, I answered this in the last post:
There is no problem with the person’s receiving the Sacrament of the Sick if he is in danger of death. The Sacrament is not suppose to be given, however, to someone just because they are sick, is not to be repeated unless the person recovers and becomes dangerous ill again, and is not to be given to those who “obstinately persist in a manifestly grave sin.” (CIC 1004-1007)
Let me quote Canon Law directly:
Can. 1004 ß1 The anointing of the sick can be administered to any member of the faithful who, having reached the use of reason, begins to be in danger of death by reason of illness or old age.
ß2 This sacrament can be repeated if the sick person, having recovered, again becomes seriously ill or if, in the same illness, the danger becomes more serious.
Can. 1005 -If there is any doubt as to whether the sick person has reached the age of reason, or is dangerously ill, or is dead, this sacrament is to be administered.
Can. 1006 -This sacrament is to be administered to the sick who, when they were in possession of their faculties, at least implicitly asked for it.
Can. 1007 -The anointing of the sick is not to be conferred upon those who obstinately persist in a manifestly grave sin.
To administer the Sacrament of Anointing to a person just for purposes of helping them with their “spiritual illness”, and they are not in danger of death, is frankly, illegal (that is, illicit), and an abuse of the Sacrament.
The priest can give the person a regular priestly blessed, or pray deliverance prayers for the person, but the Sacrament of Anointing is not meant for this purpose. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM
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