Anointing the Sick

The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick gives strength and support and can be administered to anyone struggling with an illness.

Who may Receive?

In the Catholic Church, Extreme Unction or the Last Rites is the anointing at the time of death. Since the Second Vatican Council, this sacrament is now called the Anointing of the Sick and has been broadened to offer healing and comfort in times of illness that may not lead to immediate death. Speaking about a wider implementation of this sacrament, Pope Paul VI advocated for “a wider availability of the sacrament and to extend it—within reasonable limits—even beyond cases of mortal illness."

The sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is, ideally, to be administered in a communal celebration.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that when the sick are anointed they should be "assisted by their pastor and the whole ecclesial community, which is invited to surround the sick in a special way through their prayers and fraternal attention" (1516). "Like all the sacraments the Anointing of the Sick is a liturgical and communal celebration…It is very fitting to celebrate it within the Eucharist" (1517).

Spiritual Healing

The healing that occurs in this sacrament of anointing is not necessarily physical healing. While we believe that physical healing can occur through the great power of God, the grace that is infused through this special sacrament is the reminder of the eternal presence of God in our human suffering.

When the priest blessing the oil of anointing, he asks God to "send the power of your Holy Spirit, the Consoler, into this precious oil. Make this oil a remedy for all who are anointed with it; heal them in body, in soul and in spirit, and deliver them from every affliction" (Pastoral Care of the Sick, #123).

"The celebration of the Anointing of the Sick consists essentially in the anointing of the forehead and hands of the sick person (in the Roman Rite) or of other parts of the body (in the Eastern rite), the anointing being accompanied by the liturgical prayer of the celebrant asking for the special grace of this sacrament" (CCC 1531).

What about the Dying?

While the sacrament of the sick is no longer reserved for the dying, it is still an important obligation of every Christian to help their fellow Christian receive viaticum. The Anointing of the Sick is given at the beginning of an illness, and the Eucharist is given as viaticum, or food for the journey at the very end.  It is very important for the dying to receive Holy Communion as they prepare for death. Never hesitate to call the parish to request communion and the Apostolic Pardon for someone who is dying. Sometime because of modern medical intervention, people cannot easily  receive the Eucharist in their last days. It is particularly valuable to see if it is possible for a person to receive the Eucharist possibly for the last time before they are intubated on a ventilator or put on a feeding tube. With some advance notice Communion can be brought by a priest right after the morning Mass to a person who can no longer swallow solid food under the form of the Precious Blood.

When to be Anointed?

The proper time for receiving this holy anointing has certainly arrived when the believer begins to be in danger of death because of illness or old age. -Catechism of the Catholic Church 1528

Good times to consider requesting the anointing of the sick before any serious surgery or following the diagnosis of a serious medical condition.

He summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by twoThey anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them. (Mark 6:7, 13)


If you or a loved one needs to be anointed, please contact the Parish Office at  636-464-1013.

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