Unction of the sick

Anointing of the Sick

St. James has explicitly mentioned about anointing of the sick. (5:13-15) The Apostles had not taught and practised anything of their own in their Apostolic activities. (Gal. 1: 1-12) For everything they had practised, they had our Lord's sanction. They taught what they learned from Christ (Mat. 18:20) 

We have instances of the Apostles anointing the sick and healing them, when they had been with our Lord. (Mar.6:13) which action by all means been, instructed by Him When we consider the teaching of Christ for 40 days after His resurrection (Act.1:2) we see the possibility of Christ's sanction in all the apostolic practices.

In the foregoing chapters we have seen that Baptism cleanses one from the original and actual sins and ushers him to the Kingdom of Grace, the Holy Eucharist nourishes and unites him with the fountain of life, and the Sacrament of penance removes the sickness of the soul. 

The Sacrament of Holy Anointing is ordained for the healing of the infirmities of the soul and of the body.

This, as all other Sacraments - is administered by a priest, which St.James clearly points out. After prayers by the priest and confession by the person concerned, the priest anoints his forehead and then his eyes, ears, nostrils, lips, tongue, palm and feet etc. saying " Through the oil (anointing) and His most tender mercy, may the Lord forgive your sins you have committed by sight, hearing etc. 

The anointing is strictly a way of spiritual healing, a healing of the sinful spirit of the person. Together with prayers or forgiveness of sins, are added prayers for the restoration of health if God so wills, and therefore, it is wrongly called 'extreme' unction by some.

Note: It is not wise to delay the Sacrament of anointing till death is imminent. The prayers for a great part is for the recovery of the sick person, which means that the Sacrament is not meant to be used only as extreme. 

It is valuable also preparing for its passage through death to the life beyond. Every Christian seriously ill, should endeavour for a preparation for death. The prayers of those around him will be of much value. He should call for the priest that he may have his true Confession of sins and have absolution and Holy Communion.

Together his preparation for the life hereafter, he should set his home too in order. It would be useful if he makes offerings for the purpose of the Church and charity according to his circumstances. 

The effects of this Sacrament are:-
  • An increase of sanctifying Grace
  • Comfort in sickness and strength against temptations.
  • Preparations for attaining eternal bliss.
  • Health of body according to the will of God.

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