The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick

  1. Pre-Requisites


A.         The personal should have some physical illness that causes some concern in which there is danger of deeper illness. This depends on the age and condition of the person. For example, a simple cold may not cause concern for almost anyone, nor should the flu if doctor’s orders are followed but in a person of advanced age or who has problems with the immune system, this may be cause for seeking the sacrament. Common sense should prevail.  When in doubt, call for Anointing. The person does not have to be in proximate danger of death as in the previous case of Extreme Unction since the church has turned to a more biblical notion of the sacrament.

B.         The person who experiences a mental deficiency, mental illness, or even great worry or concern which may cause sleepless nights can seek the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. There are certain mental conditions that cause physical problems but with no physical causes such as in hysterical where there can be hysterical blindness, deafness, or lameness. These are causes for the Sacrament.

C.         Great traumas caused by certain events in life such as the loss of a dear one, divorce, auto accidents, etc. which cause emotional turmoil may be causes for the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.

D.         We must remember that only Baptized Catholics can receive the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.


2.   Understanding the Sacrament


A.         We must not confuse the Sacrament of Anointing with some form of magical rite in which the saying of words, the gestures, the physical symbol of oil brings about a magical change such as in the Harry Potter Movies. The Sacrament is not magic. Magic seeks to control the power of the Spirit while the sacrament seeks to open us up to the power of the Spirit and the will of God.

B.         The effects of the Sacrament are to aid us to gain peace in whatever condition or situation is causing the problem(s) so that our natural body can begin to heal itself such as in the case of medicine prescribed to aid the body in its natural immune systems and healing properties. This is the way that God created the human body. The sacrament also aids us to reconnect with God who is the creator of all things visible and invisible and understands perfectly how each works and how the body is connected with the mind and spirit.

C.         The Lord may have a desire to do spiritual purification as well. Suffering can have a curative for the soul in that, when we offer our suffering up for our past sins, for the sins of others, or for some condition of the world much like we offer Masses for the deceased, there is a powerful spiritual effect. Thus, the Sacrament of Anointing may aid us to offer our suffering up rather than simply opening us up to a physical or mental or emotional cure. The Lord may use the Sacrament to offer a cure for the Soul which is more important.

D.         The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick has a place for the Rite of Penance if desired but also has the effect of forgiveness of sin as part of its curative effect on the soul. But it should not be used in instances where Emergency Baptism is used in the case of the possible death of a child. This calls for Emergency Baptism in which a priest, a deacon, or anyone can do an emergency baptism with the intention to do what the church does and rites can be supplied later at a regular baptism ceremony. The Emergency Baptism would cure both Original and Personal Sin and does not require a priest as Anointing of the Sick does.


3.    The Process of Requesting the Sacrament


A.         Normally the sacrament may be requested by a Eucharistic Minister or Deacon who visits the sick on a normal basis with the permission of the individual person when they believe it will be helpful. The person him/herself may request the sacrament or a family member may request the sacrament for a loved one. All it takes is a call to the office.

B.         When a Catholic person is transferred to the care of a Hospice Program, one should automatically request the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. Anytime there is a grave danger of death, or even deepening or changing conditions in a person with a possibly life-threatening illness or life-threatening condition resulting from accidents such as in auto accidents, falling from heights, etc. Call the office to schedule an appointment.

C .         The Pastor attempts to schedule an Anointing Mass once a year, usually during the Flu Season. In this case, it is usually announced ahead of time so that families can prepared their loved ones and bring them to church. Normally on this Anointing Weekend the sacrament will be offered at all Masses. No prior call to the office is necessary in this case. Simply bring the sick persons to church. If the illness is communicative, the sick person should refrain from receiving from the Chalice.

D.         When calling the office to make the request, the following information should be given:

–          Name of the Person to receive the Sacrament

–          Some information about the condition of the person

–          Whether the person can receive all or part of Holy Communion

–          Language [Spanish or English]

–          Street Address of the location of the person to receive

–          A Phone number where there is someone who can give directions if necessary

–          Other persons capable and wishing to receive Communion [so the proper amount of hosts may be brought]

–          Best time to come depending on meal, rest, or visiting nurse schedules

–          In general, it is better if other family members or friends can be involved as it is a liturgical rite


  1. Stole Fees


There is absolutely no cost nor should this stop anyone from requesting the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. But it is customary to give the priest a monetary gift for time, effort, gas, etc. This is up to the discretion of the family members involved. This gift is called a “Stole Fee” because it requires priestly ordination and the stole is the sign of the role of the priest.