The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick (also known as Extreme Unction) is administered to bring spiritual (and sometimes physical) strength during an illness, especially near the time of death. It is often the last sacrament anyone will receive.
The Anointing of the Sick conveys several graces and imparts gifts of strengthening in the Holy Spirit against anxiety, discouragement, and temptation, and conveys peace and fortitude.
These graces flow from the atoning death of Jesus Christ, for “this was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah, ‘He took our infirmities and bore our diseases’ ” (Matt. 8:17).
The special grace of the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick has as its effects:
- the uniting of the sick person to the passion of Christ, for his own good and that of the whole Church
- the strengthening, peace, and courage to endure in a Christian manner the sufferings of illness or old age
- the forgiveness of sins, if the sick person was not able to obtain it through the sacrament of penance or self/personal confession directly to God.
- the restoration of health, if it is conducive to the salvation of his soul
- the preparation for passing over to eternal life.
Does a person have to be dying to receive this sacrament? No.
The Anointing of the Sick is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death. As soon as anyone begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for him/her to receive this sacrament has arrived. Don’t be late with this Sacrament. If there is any doubt, ask for it.
Always know that we are available to visit and pray with anyone who is sick in their home, nursing/care homes, hospitals, hospice centers, and prisons upon request.