Anointing of 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.”

Unlike the traditional understanding of the Last Rites, 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).

He summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two…They anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

(Mark 6:7, 13)

Homebound or Hospitalized

Saint Veronica offers this Sacrament to all members of the parish and its celebration can be easily arranged:

When you are attending Mass, and, e.g., are anticipating surgery, simply ask one of the priests to celebrate the Sacrament with you.

If unable to be present at the church and you or someone in your family is in need of this Sacrament, please call the Parish Office to arrange for a visit from one of our priests.

The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick

If a sick person who received this anointing recovers his health, they can in the case of another grave illness receive this sacrament again. If during the same illness the person’s condition becomes more serious, the sacrament may be repeated.

Finally, for those who are about to leave this life, the Sacrament completes the holy anointings that mark the whole Christian life and fortifies the individual for their final journey. In such cases, the priest will also often offer the Eucharist in the form of Holy Viaticum (food for the journey).

You can ask for anointing of the sick whenever you are in need of strengthening, but especially when:

  • Undergoing surgery
  • Struggling with chronic or serious illness
  • Coping with mental illness
  • Growing older and feeling weaker even though no illness is present
  • During the course of recovery if the condition changes

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 Last Rites?

Is Anointing of the Sick the same as “Last RItes?” In the event of a loved one actively dying, the priest will celebrate “Last Rites,” which consist of the Sacraments of Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick, and Holy Communion. Clearly the patient’s medical condition may alter or limit the way any one of the Sacraments can be celebrated.