"It is the Lord Jesus himself who makes himself visible in the sacrament, who takes us by the hand, caresses us as he did with the sick and reminds us that from now on we belong to him and that nothing - not even evil and death - can ever separate us from him." (Pope Francis)
At the heart of his work, Jesus kept a special place for the sick, the infirm and the dying. He had the gift of bringing consolation and healing, of calming hearts and minds, of revealing God's loving and merciful presence in situations humanly void of hope.
From the very beginning of the Church, the Apostles wanted to imitate his tenderness and compassion for those afflicted by illness. A text from the New Testament bears witness to this practice: "Is any of you ill? Let him call for the elders of the church and let them pray after anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord" (Jas 5:14). "(Jas 5:14)
As Pope Francis explains, "the priest and those present at the Anointing of the Sick represent the entire Christian community which, as one body, gathers around the one who is suffering and around his or her loved ones, nourishing in them faith and hope, and supporting them with prayer and fraternal warmth. "
Some still speak of "extreme unction". Until 1965, this sacrament was reserved for the last moments of life. But since then, the Church offers to celebrate this sacrament with any person whose state of health has seriously reversed and threatens his or her survival. She also offers to celebrate this sacrament with those whose old age is a serious handicap. It is not necessary to wait until the moment of death to celebrate this beautiful sacrament. In fact, any person who is experiencing a serious health crisis should call upon the Christian community to bring this sign of God's love to them.
As with the sacrament of reconciliation, there are two forms of celebrating the anointing of the sick.
More often, it will be an individual form where the priest goes to the bedside to celebrate the anointing with a few family members. Call your parish to have a priest come to celebrate this sacrament with you.
Occasionally, community celebrations are held in parishes or seniors' residences. In these cases, the entire community gathers to pray for the seriously ill in their midst and to show their compassion in the celebration of the anointing. Please consult your parish or the chaplain of your residence for the date and time of these celebrations.