The sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is one of the seven sacraments of the church that has had to undergo an image makeover. Before the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), those who received this anointing were always very near death, hence the name “last rites” or “extreme unction” identified when this sacrament was celebrated. After the revision of the rite of the anointing of the sick, the idea was stressed that this sacrament was to be celebrated as one of healing that encompasses the whole person in mind, body, and spirit. One does not have to be on one’s “death bed” to celebrate this sacrament, but open to the healing power and prayers of the church, praying and anointing in God’s name, as directed by the practices of the early church: “Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up” (James 5: 13-14).
The celebration of the anointing of the sick is a prayer of faith, a belief that God is with us, cares deeply for us, and desires our wholeness. When this sacrament is administered, the priest lays his hands on the head of the sick, silently prays for them, and then anoints the person with the oil of the sick, one of the three blessed oils used sacramentally, on their forehead and hands.
The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick can be celebrated at a home or a bedside, with a few close members of the family gathered to support their loved one, witnessing the prayers of the church and the anointing of their loved one by the priest. This sacrament is also celebrated communally, where members of the faith community who seek to receive the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick are gathered with others in the community, known and unknown to them, who hold them with their prayerful support and presence. The community witnesses to the strength that comes from sharing concern, love, and the prayers of faith that enfold us in the truth that we are all united in Christ who “humbled himself to share in our humanity.”
The ministry of healing, shown to us by Jesus through the many times and ways he healed others, is a sacramental ministry shared by many within a faith community, both professionally and through our Christian commitment. This imperative is shown clearly in the introduction of the Pastoral Care of the Sick:
The concern that Christ showed for the bodily and spiritual welfare of those who are ill is continued by the Church in its ministry to the sick. This ministry is the common responsibility of all Christians, who should visit the sick, remember them in prayer, and celebrate the sacraments with them. The family and friends of the sick, doctors and others who care for them, and priests with pastoral responsibilities, have a particular share in this ministry of comfort. (#43)
A communal Mass of Healing that includes the Sacrament of Anointing is celebrated once a year. The sacrament is also celebrated with individuals upon request.
Fr. Gabriel may be called at any time day or night for the Sacrament of the sick. Furthermore, Father will be happy to visit the Sick with Holy Communion upon request. Contact Fr. Gabriel Anderson, 563-583-9117, for more information on Anointing of the Sick.
COMMUNION CALLS FOR THE SICK/SHUT-IN
If you or a family member is ill, shut-in, or in a nursing home and would like to receive Holy Communion, please contact the Parish Office at (563) 583-9117.