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«Archdiocesan Manual for the Pastoral Care of the Sick 10/20/06 Pg.1 PASTORAL QUESTIONS [This section is composed of frequently asked questions in the ...»

Archdiocesan Manual for the Pastoral Care of the Sick 10/20/06 Pg.1


[This section is composed of frequently asked questions in the theological, liturgical,

and canonical areas of the celebration of the sacrament. It is not intended to be

exhaustive but to clarify current concerns in the celebration of the Anointing of the Sick

and Viaticum. The answer to most questions can be found by reading the General

Introduction, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the Code of Canon Law.] 1. What is the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick?

“By the sacred anointing of the sick and the prayer of the priests the whole Church commends those who are ill to the suffering and glorified Lord, that he may raise them up and save them (Jas 5: 14-16). And indeed she exhorts them to contribute to the good of the People of God by freely uniting themselves to the Passion and death of Christ” (Rom 8: 17; Col 1: 24; Tim 2: 11-12; 1 Pet 4: 13).

[LG 11; PCS 5; CCC 1499, C 998].

2. What are the effects of the Sacrament?

The rite defines the effects of the Sacrament as being one of salvation of the whole person in the midst of the challenge to faith and to hope posed by the experience of sickness. The Sacrament sustains the person in the midst of illness, however brief that might be in an emergency situation, rather than on preparing the person for certain death [PCS 6].

The Catechism discusses four effects of receiving the Sacrament. 1) A particular grace of the Holy Spirit that strengthens people to overcome the difficulties associated with illness and or old age is conferred in the Sacrament. This strengthening heals the soul but may also heal the body if God so wills;

remission of sin is also associated with this gift of the Spirit. 2) The sick are consecrated to bear fruit by configuring themselves to the suffering of Christ and by associating their suffering with his saving passion. 3) The sick are confirmed in their ecclesial role as objects of the Church’s solicitude and witnesses to God’s grace in the midst of suffering. 4) The Sacrament may also prepare those on the point of death for their transition into eternal life, although the Catechism makes clear that viaticum is the proper ritual prayer for the dying [CCC 1520-1523].

3. What kind of healing takes place?

The form for the Sacrament of Anointing is: “Through this holy anointing may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit. Amen. May the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up. Amen” [PC

–  –  –

4. Who is the proper minister of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick?

The General Introduction states: “The priest is the only proper minister of the Anointing of the Sick. This office is ordinarily exercised by bishops, parish priests (pastors) and their assistants, priests who are responsible for the sick or aged in C:\My Webs\diogh\pastoralcare\workingfiles\Pastoral Questions.doc Archdiocesan Manual for the Pastoral Care of the Sick 10/20/06 Pg.2 hospitals, and superiors of clerical religious institutes” [PCS 16; CCC 1516; C 1003;].

In February 2005 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published a note restating the Church’s teaching that “only priests (bishops and presbyters) are ministers of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick” [BCL, April 2005].

–  –  –

6. What constitutes a serious illness?

The Law does not specify what constitutes a serious illness but leaves the determination to those involved, especially a priest who is minister of the sacrament. A prudent or reasonably sure judgment, without scruple, is sufficient for deciding on the seriousness of an illness; if necessary a doctor may be consulted [PCS 8]. The Catechism of the Catholic Church [1514] repeats the Council’s thought that as soon as one begins to be in danger of death a serious illness has certainly already arrived. In doubt whether the person is seriously ill, the minister may anoint [C 1005]. Illness may be from any cause, such as a wound, disease, poisoning, bodily deterioration, etc. However, the anointing cannot be given to those who are in danger of death but who are not seriously ill;

for example, a prisoner about to be executed or a solider going into battle.

Because a principal aspect of the rite is prayer for recovery from illness, the anointing should not be given to healthy people who are about to die from an extrinsic source. In these cases reconciliation and Eucharist are the appropriate sacramental ministrations” [BL, 1995].

–  –  –

C:\My Webs\diogh\pastoralcare\workingfiles\Pastoral Questions.doc Archdiocesan Manual for the Pastoral Care of the Sick 10/20/06 Pg.3

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10. Can some one who suffers from alcoholism, drug addiction or controlled substance abuse be anointed?

The General Introduction makes no particular mention of these conditions and it is true they can lead to a debilitating illness or even death. However the Sacrament of Anointing is intended for those “whose health is seriously impaired by sickness or old age…”[PCS 8; C 1004 §1]. This is generally not the condition of someone with an addiction. In a footnote to paragraph eight the ritual notes “The word periculose has been carefully studied and rendered as “seriously,” rather than as “gravely,” or “dangerously,” or “perilously.” Such a rendering will serve to avoid restrictions upon the celebration of the sacrament. On the one hand, the sacrament may and should be given to anyone whose health is seriously impaired; on the other hand, it may not be given indiscriminately or to any person whose health is not seriously impaired” [PCS 8 (footnote 8)].

–  –  –

11. Can the Sacrament of the Anointing be repeated, how often?

The ritual has a generous approach to the repetition of the sacrament within the same illness. “The sacrament may be repeated if the sick person recovers after being anointed and then again falls ill or if during the same illness the person’s condition becomes more serious” [PCS 9; C 1004, §2]. A person can, in effect, be anointed during progressive stages of the illness.

–  –  –

C:\My Webs\diogh\pastoralcare\workingfiles\Pastoral Questions.doc Archdiocesan Manual for the Pastoral Care of the Sick 10/20/06 Pg.4 sick person, where he or she is surrounded by family members, is also encouraged. In case of sudden and unforeseen illness or surgery, anointing may take place in the hospital or other health care facility. [PCS 97]

–  –  –

16. May baptized persons from other Christian denominations be anointed?

“In ordinary circumstances, anointing of the sick is licitly administered only to Catholics. Priests may anoint separated Eastern Christians and those in canonically equivalent churches when those persons ask for the sacrament on their own and are properly disposed. Protestants may be anointed in danger of death or for grave necessity when they cannot approach a minister of their own denomination provided they ask for the sacrament on their own, manifest a Catholic faith in it and are properly disposed” [C 844; BL,1995].

–  –  –

19. What are the options for celebrating the Anointing of the Sick?

Chapter IV of the PCS contains three options for celebrating the anointing of the sick: 1) Anointing outside Mass [111-130]; 2) Anointing within Mass [131-148]; 3) Anointing in a Hospital or Institution [149-160].

C:\My Webs\diogh\pastoralcare\workingfiles\Pastoral Questions.doc Archdiocesan Manual for the Pastoral Care of the Sick 10/20/06 Pg.5 20. Can the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick be celebrated at Sunday Mass?

Yes, the ritual does allow for the celebration on Sundays during Mass of an individual or a group. The rite however cautions that in such situations: “the practice of indiscriminately anointing numbers of people on these occasions simply because they are ill or have reached an advanced age is to be avoided.

Only those whose health is seriously impaired by sickness or old age are proper subjects for the sacrament” [PCS 108].

–  –  –

22. In what setting is Viaticum appropriately received?

The normative celebration is within Mass, but particular circumstances may prevent a full Eucharistic celebration. If so, the rite for Viaticum outside Mass is used. A time chosen when family, friends and members of the community can be present should be arranged. [PCS 164,177,178].

–  –  –

C:\My Webs\diogh\pastoralcare\workingfiles\Pastoral Questions.doc Archdiocesan Manual for the Pastoral Care of the Sick 10/20/06 Pg.6 [PCS 198], and only a priest but not a deacon or extraordinary minister of Holy Communion pronounces the Apostolic Pardon.

27. What about charismatic healing Masses and Anointing Services?

In the tradition of the Church there is evidence of healing taking place through prayer and anointing with oil, even in cases where the sacramental anointing is not celebrated. The Church recognizes a hierarchy of blessing. Certainly the blessing given by a parent to a sick child is an avenue of grace and comfort. The ritual Book of Blessings includes blessings and prayers for the sick that may be given by a layperson. Certain shrines such as Lourdes are noted as places where miraculous healings have occurred. Today many people seek the fellowship of prayer groups that gather regularly to pray over, lay hands upon and anoint the sick with oil. However, these various forms of prayers, blessings, and healings are distinct from the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. A clear distinction should be maintained between the Church’s Sacrament of Anointing the Sick that may only be administered by a priest and other healing and anointing services. Whereas charismatic anointings place emphasis on a physical healing, the sacramental anointing of the sick is incarnational and focuses on the strengthening and comforting of the whole person, whether or not the result is physical healing. Persons who are seriously ill should always be encouraged to seek the sacramental anointing of the sick by a priest.

–  –  –

It is of the greatest importance that the initiation of every baptized Christian be completed by the sacrament of Confirmation and the Eucharist. The sick person in danger of death who has reached the age of reason should therefore be strengthened by Confirmation before receiving the Eucharist as Viaticum, after the necessary and possible catechesis. In the case of a child who has not yet reached the age of reason, the sacrament of Confirmation is given in accord with the same principles and norms as for baptism. Confirmation of a baptized Catholic in danger of death is not ordinarily to be celebrated in a continuous rite with Anointing of the Sick [RC, 52].

C:\My Webs\diogh\pastoralcare\workingfiles\Pastoral Questions.doc

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