The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is a ritual of healing appropriate not only for physical but also for mental and spiritual illness. It is the proper sacrament for those whose health is seriously impaired by sickness or old age. It is not necessary or advisable to wait until one is in danger of death. It may be celebrated in the home, in a hospital or institution, or in church. Through the sacrament of anointing the Church supports the sick in their struggle against illness and continues Christ’s messianic work of healing. Those seeking the sacrament are encouraged to seek it at the beginning of a serious illness. Ideally the sacrament of anointing of the sick is best celebrated when the person being anointed is able to participate in the prayers, with members of the family and other representatives of the Christian community present whenever possible.
The primary purpose of the special grace of Anointing of the Sick is to comfort and to strengthen the soul of the sick person.
- This is the grace that quiets anxiety and dissipates fear.
- It is the grace which enables the sick person to embrace God's will and to face the possibility of death without apprehension.
- It is the grace which gives the soul the strength to face and conquer whatever temptations to doubt, despondency, or even despair may mark Satan's last effort to seize this soul for himself.