The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick gives strength and support and can be administered to anyone struggling with an illness, of advanced age, or going through a particular stressful time in their life.
Who may receive?
Since the Second Vatican Council, this sacrament, formerly known as Extreme Unction or the Last Rites, is now called the Anointing of the Sick and has been broadened to offer healing and comfort in times of illness that may not lead to immediate death. Speaking about a wider implementation of this sacrament, Pope Paul VI advocated for “a wider availability of the sacrament and to extend it, within reasonable limits, even beyond cases of mortal illness.”
Unlike the traditional understanding of the Last Rites, the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is, ideally, to be administered in a communal celebration.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that when the sick are anointed they should be “assisted by their pastor and the whole ecclesial community, which is invited to surround the sick in a special way through their prayers and fraternal attention” (CCC 1516). “Like all the sacraments the Anointing of the Sick is a liturgical and communal celebration…It is very fitting to celebrate it within the Eucharist” (CCC 1517).
The healing that occurs in this sacrament of anointing is not necessarily physical healing. While we believe that physical healing can occur through the great power of God, the grace that is infused through this special sacrament is the reminder of the eternal presence of God in our human suffering.
When the priest blesses the oil of anointing, he asks God to “send the power of your Holy Spirit, the Consoler, into this precious oil. Make this oil a remedy for all who are anointed with it; heal them in body, in soul and in spirit, and deliver them from every affliction” (Pastoral Care of the Sick, #123).
“The celebration of the Anointing of the Sick consists essentially in the anointing of the forehead and hands of the sick person (in the Roman Rite) or of other parts of the body (in the Eastern rite), the anointing being accompanied by the liturgical prayer of the celebrant asking for the special grace of this sacrament” (CCC 1531).
He summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two…They anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them. (Mark 6:7, 13)
Sickness and advanced age can separate people from family, friends, home and church. We, at St. Alphonsus, realize this pastoral concern especially when familiar contacts and sacraments are a great source of comfort. Home visits, either through calling the parish office or by calling a parish priest, allows the elderly, hospitalized and homebound parishioners to remain connected to St. Alphonsus. If you or someone you know is unable to attend St. Alphonsus and would like to regularly receive the sacraments or would simply like someone from St. Alphonsus to spend time talking and praying with you or the person this is directed to, please contact the parish office at (504) 522-6748.
We will make every effort to see to the urgent pastoral care of our parishioners. Please call the church office at (504) 522-6748 if you have a family member or friend in the hospital who would like to receive the Anointing of the Sick. The homebound and parishioners in nursing homes should also receive the Sacrament of the Sick and Holy Communion when they wish.
When a loved one dies, we are faced with a challenging and enriching experience. At St. Alphonsus we come together as a community to celebrate our life together on this earth and life everlasting. Those who are planning a funeral or memorial service are asked to call the parish office at (504) 522-6748 for more information.