“Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven.” James 5:14-15
The Anointing of the Sick is the official name of the Sacrament that many may remember as the “Last Rites” or “Extreme Unction.” In the days before Vatican II, only those in danger of death were anointed, but the Council changed all that. Vatican II has had us follow the more ancient practice of the Church, which is to anoint all the sick for the healing of their bodies and souls. Anointing of the Sick is also a sacrament of healing. The idea behind this sacrament is that we are all members of the Body of Christ. When one of us suffers, all of us suffer, and all of God’s creation suffers with us.
Anointing of the Sick brings the presence of Christ the Healer to those who are ill. His presence calms their spirits and strengthens them, allowing them to bear their illnesses with dignity and, perhaps, to recover. The Sacrament connects those who are ill with the prayer of whole community as well as with Christ.
We anoint any person who is seriously ill, in danger of death, weakened due to old age (even if no serious illness is present), or preparing for serious surgery due to illness. One should not necessarily wait until they are on their deathbed to receive this Sacrament. In addition, those who have received the anointing and recovered, but again fall ill, or those whose condition becomes more serious during the same illness, may receive the Sacrament again. The dead are not anointed, as no Sacrament is effective for those who are not living. For the dead, we say prayers and trust their souls to the mercy of God.
If you or a loved one is ill, please call the parish at 401-737-4455 to be anointed. If you wish to be anointed before surgery, please contact the parish so that you can arrange to be anointed before or after Mass if you are able to come to the church, or to arrange to be anointed at home.
Read more about the Sacrament of Anointing in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.