Anointing the Sick

Sacraments 101: Anointing of the Sick (who it's for)

The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick

The anointing of the sick is administered to bring spiritual and even physical strength during an illness, especially near the time of death. 

St. James gives us the Bible’s most explicit and eloquent record of this sacrament: “Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the Church and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven” (Jas 5:14-15).

In this passage above, the “elders” are the priests (from the Greek: presbuteroi). The priests are the ordinary ministers of the rite, which consists of anointing the sick person with oil blessed by the bishop.

The Sacrament’s Institution

Like all the sacraments, holy anointing was instituted by Jesus Christ during his earthly ministry . The Catechism explains: “This sacred anointing of the sick was instituted by Christ our Lord as a true and proper sacrament of the New Testament. It is alluded to indeed in Mark, but is recommended to the faithful and promulgated by James the apostle and brother of the Lord” (CCC 1511; Mark 6:13; Jas 5:14-15).

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