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Browsing Pastor's Notes

01/10/24 - Sacrament of the Sick

From the PastorDear Friends in Christ,

Recently, a priest friend of mine was attending a basketball tournament and one of the players–just twenty years old–collapsed and died on the court. Thankfully, thanks to the quick action of some of the coaches and bystanders, the young man was resuscitated and survived. While they were performing CPR on him, the priest knelt beside him and gave him the Sacrament of the Sick.

I am sure the sight of that young priest giving the sacraments to that young man at that moment will be forever ingrained in the memories of the fans, players, coaches, and that young man’s family. There were many seminarians at that tournament, and I cannot help but think that they must have been incredibly inspired to see the grace of priesthood being lived out right in front of them.

For the next couple few weeks, I want to use this column to speak about the Sacrament of the Sick and some practical issues regarding the reception of the Sacrament of the Sick. Maybe it might clarify some things for you and be helpful to you. This week, I simply want to convey what the Sacrament of the Sick is. What does it do? Who should receive it?

I encourage you to read the following paragraphs from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. In next week’s bulletin, I intend to write a bit about some practical considerations surrounding the Sacrament of the Sick.

Until Then….stay healthy!

Your Brother in Christ,

Fr. David Barnes


From the Catechism:

The Anointing of the Sick is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death. Hence, as soon as anyone of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for him to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived.

If a sick person who received this anointing recovers his health, he can in the case of another grave illness receive this sacrament again. If during the same illness the person's condition becomes more serious, the sacrament may be repeated. It is fitting to receive the Anointing of the Sick just prior to a serious operation. The same holds for the elderly whose frailty becomes more pronounced.

The first grace of this sacrament is one of strengthening, peace and courage to overcome the difficulties that go with the condition of serious illness or the frailty of old age. This grace is a gift of the Holy Spirit, who renews trust and faith in God and strengthens against the temptations of the evil one, the temptation to discouragement and anguish in the face of death. This assistance from the Lord by the power of his Spirit is meant to lead the sick person to healing of the soul, but also of the body if such is God's will. Furthermore, if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

Union with the passion of Christ. By the grace of this sacrament the sick person receives the strength and the gift of uniting himself more closely to Christ's Passion: in a certain way he is consecrated to bear fruit by configuration to the Savior's redemptive Passion. Suffering, a consequence of original sin, acquires a new meaning; it becomes a participation in the saving work of Jesus.

An ecclesial grace. The sick who receive this sacrament, by freely uniting themselves to the passion and death of Christ, contribute to the good of the People of God. By celebrating this sacrament the Church, in the communion of saints, intercedes for the benefit of the sick person, and he, for his part, through the grace of this sacrament, contributes to the sanctification of the Church and to the good of all men for whom the Church suffers and offers herself through Christ to God the Father.

A preparation for the final journey. If the sacrament of anointing of the sick is given to all who suffer from serious illness and infirmity, even more rightly is it given to those at the point of departing this life; so it is also called sacramentum exeuntium (the sacrament of those departing). The Anointing of the Sick completes our conformity to the death and Resurrection of Christ, just as Baptism began it. It completes the holy anointings that mark the whole Christian life: that of Baptism which sealed the new life in us, and that of Confirmation which strengthened us for the combat of this life. This last anointing fortifies the end of our earthly life like a solid rampart for the final struggles before entering the Father's house.