The weekend of October 27th & 28th we will have the Anointing of the Sick at all of the masses. Some who are my age or older may remember when this sacrament was referred to as Extreme Unction (“last anointing”). I still will get calls asking me to give the “last rites” to someone who is in the process of dying. Our Church teaches that the last sacrament is Viaticum (Holy Communion given to one in the process of dying).
The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is for the faithful whose health is seriously impaired by sickness or old age. Some examples given when a person should be anointed: before surgery when a serious illness is the reason for surgery; elderly may be anointed if they have become notably weakened even though no serious illness is present; sick children may be anointed if they have sufficient use of reason to be strengthened by this sacrament.
We are cautioned to not worry about whether to receive the sacrament or not. If you consider your illness to be serious, receive the sacrament. If you have doubts about whether your child has reached the age of reason, have him or her receive the sacrament. It is a sacrament where we ask God for strength and healing. The healing needed may be for physical causes. Healing may be needed for mental or emotional reasons.
Fr. Richard McBrien says, “A Church which is not interested in healing and in the total health of the whole human person and of the human community at large is not the Church of Christ. A Church which abandons those who, by certain of the world’s standards, are no longer of practical use is not the Church of Christ. The Church which anoints the sick is the Church of the ‘Lord Jesus Christ, (who) shared in our human nature to heal the sick and save all mankind’ (Prayer After Anointing).”
Every Sunday we pray for the sick of our parish. As you pray every day, be mindful of those who need God’s healing strength.
This week (October 15th through the 18th) I will be attending the Priests Assembly at the Lake of the Ozarks. There will be mass on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I don’t leave until Monday afternoon and will return Thursday evening. Fr. Chuck Tobin will be celebrating mass with you on Wednesday. Please keep the priests of our diocese in your prayers as we meet this week.