The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church, has its foundations in the New Testament of the Bible. In the Letter of James (5:14-15), the apostle writes, "Is anyone 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 sins, he will be forgiven." The Catholic Church interprets this passage as the basis for the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.
This sacrament is primarily intended for those who are seriously ill, about to undergo major surgery, or are advanced in age. It's a way for the Church to provide comfort, peace, and courage to those who are suffering. Contrary to common belief, this sacrament is not just for those on the verge of death; the Church encourages anyone seriously ill to receive it.
The rite of Anointing of the Sick involves anointing the forehead and hands of the person with the Oil of the Sick, a holy oil that has been blessed by a bishop.
The sacrament serves a dual purpose. It offers physical healing, if it is God's will, and spiritual healing. It unites the sick person to the passion of Christ and contributes to the sanctification of the Church by demonstrating the redemptive meaning of suffering. The sacrament also gives the grace to endure illness with courage, faith, and hope.
If the person receiving the sacrament has any sins yet to be forgiven, the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick provides forgiveness. This element of the sacrament reflects the close connection between physical and spiritual health that is a recurring theme in Christ's ministry.
The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is a profound experience of God's merciful love. It's a way for the Church, as the body of Christ, to extend His healing touch and comforting presence to those in great physical and spiritual need. It not only brings divine comfort to the person who is suffering, but it also inspires the wider community, reminding all of the power of prayer and the abiding presence of God in times of hardship.