Anointing of the Sick
The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is sometimes called the Last Rites or Viaticum. This gives the impression that it is only for those who are close to death – but this is only partly why we have this beautiful Sacrament.
Certainly, if someone is seriously ill or in the last few days or hours of life, they may want the priest to visit to give them the Sacrament of the Sick. This prayer of Anointing and Holy Communion can be a great comfort to someone and their family. It is always better celebrated when the person is still able to participate themselves, or at least able to know what is going on. If the person is in hospital, this can be arranged through the Department of Spiritual and Pastoral Care. Catholic Chaplains are on-call at all hours and can be contacted through the hospital. If the person is at home, it is important to let your parish priest know that they require a visit in plenty of time.
However, the Sacrament of Anointing is for anyone who feels in need of the healing touch of Jesus, experienced through this Sacrament. If we are elderly or infirm, anxious about forthcoming surgery, suffering from a chronic illness, experiencing mental illness …… this Sacrament can speak to us of God’s love and care for us when we are feeling at our most vulnerable. It can be received at any age, just once or more often. During it was can also receive Holy Communion if we are able, celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation and receive absolution and it is an opportunity for us to share in a prayerful way our desire for healing.
We experience the laying on of hands and anointing on the forehead and hands and are lifted up by the prayers of the whole community.
If you feel in need of this Sacrament, speak to one of the priests who can arrange a pastoral visit.