The Sacrament Of The Sick
“Are there any who are sick among you? Let them send for the priests of the Church, and let the priests pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick persons, and the Lord will raise them up; and if they have committed any sins, their sins will be forgiven them.” James 5:14-15
The name Jesus means “God saves.” The name emphasises that Jesus is the one who has come to save all. Christ means “anointed.” The name shows that God the Father has given Jesus a mission and endowed him with power to save and the power to heal. Jesus’ whole life was aimed at saving people. His words and actions are the foundation of the saving grace we now received in the sacraments.
The Laying on of hands and Anointing of the Sick
The sacrament that helps unite those who are suffering with Jesus’ saving and healing power is the Anointing of the Sick. Through this sacrament people receive forgiveness for their sins and comfort in their suffering; they are restored in spirit; and sometimes they even experience the return of physical health. Suffering is a part of life, but Jesus unites our suffering with his passion and death so that through our suffering we can participate in his saving and healing work. The sacrament also reminds us that God wants to give comfort to the suffering and wants us to relieve suffering where we can.
In the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, the priest anoints the seriously ill, injured, or the elderly with the oil of the sick. The oil of the sick is a special oil used for the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. It is blessed by the bishop at the Chrism Mass during Holy Week.
In addition to anointing, the person is often offered Holy Communion. When a person is dying, the Communion is called viaticum (food for the journey). For a dying person, the sacrament is preparation for passing over to eternal life. Viaticum is the last rite.
Anointing sometimes occurs in church and is given to the sick or elderly within the Mass. It often takes place in homes, nursing homes, and hospitals. For example, a person who is going to have surgery may be anointed. The sacrament may be received more than once, such as when a sick person’s condition worsens.
In the Rites of the Anointing of the Sick, the priest anoints the sick person on the forehead, saying, “Through this holy anointing may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” He also anoints the sick person on the hands, saying, “May the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up. Amen.” The “raising” refers to spiritual healing, as well as any physical healing that may take place.
The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, once referred to as Extreme Unction and ministered only to those in danger of death, is a prayer of healing and may be celebrated individually and communally. We celebrate it in the hope that the person will recover from their illness.
Requesting a Sick Visit
Helping us to help you
Our parishes have Visitation of the Sick Ministries, the goal of which is to bring Holy Communion to parishioners who are unable to attend Sunday Mass because of illness or being house-bound. In time of need the priest will come to the home to administer the Sacraments of Reconciliation, Holy Eucharist, and Anointing of the Sick. If you are going into the Royal United Hospital, Bath or another local hospital, do ask for the Sacrament of the Sick before you are admitted as this takes the pressure off the hospital chaplaincy. Fr Michael is happy to anoint you at Mass or at home.
Due to legislation and Health Authority procedures regarding patients’ rights and privacy, hospitals no longer give out the names and religious preferences of their patients. Because of this, a Priest or Minister of Holy Communion, may be unaware of parishioners who have been admitted and would like a visit. We ask that you help us remain informed about those who are hospitalised, or who are in a nursing home or house-bound. Thank you.