What We Believe: Part 31 – The Anointing of The Sick
This sacrament is understood better in recent years than it had been for decades or more. No longer is it delayed until a sick person is considered to be dying with little ifany hope of recovery. Now it is given in a time of serious illness and even before a major operation or old age. One of the fruits of the sacrament is a recovery of health if God so wills. But in all cases there is the forgiveness of sin—a benefit of significant importance.
Perhaps if we keep in mind how Christ readily welcomed the sick and restored many to normal health it can help us to ask for the conferral of this sacrament without any timid hesitation. The sacrament can be received more than once during a sickness if there a deterioration in the patient’s condition.
“Hence, as soon as anyone of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for him to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived.” (1514)
Only priests can administer the Anointing of the Sick (bishops and priests). This sacrament has as its purpose the conferral of the special grace on the Christian experiencing the difficulties inherent in the condition of grave illness or old age.
It is helpful to recall that as in all the sacraments it is Christ who is the principal celebrant while the bishop or priest acts in the person of Christ.