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What exactly is Anointing of the Sick—and why is it good for us?

When we were young, there was a sacrament that was called “Extreme Unction,” a.k.a. “Last Anointing.” You may think that this sacrament is gone now, but in reality, it still exists today—the Vatican just renewed the theology behind it. 

Instead of making the sacrament all about death, the focus of the Last Anointing was shifted to healing and new life. In the process, the ritual was overhauled, and the sacrament was given a new name, Anointing of the Sick––a.k.a. the Last Sacrament. As Fr. Don Miller of Franciscan Media aptly puts it, “This sacrament, then, is not to be viewed as the kiss of death, but one of healing and life.”

My Pope takes a closer look at the Last Sacrament and how it helps bring new life to the body, mind, and spirit.

Also Read: Four Popular Sacramentals in the Philippines

Who can receive Anointing of the Sick?

Baptized Catholics who have reached the age of reason and are elderly or seriously ill can receive Anointing of the Sick. And contrary to popular belief, the sacrament is not only for those who are on their deathbeds. Recipients need not be in extremis—that is, in imminent danger of dying—to receive the Last Sacrament. It is also not only for your lolo or lola as even young children can be anointed if their illness or injury warrants it.

What if the ill person recovers? Can he receive Anointing of the Sick again? 

Yes. In fact, Canon 1004 states that “This sacrament can be repeated whenever the sick person again falls into a serious sickness after convalescence or whenever a more serious crisis develops during the same sickness.”

What exactly is Anointing of the Sick?

Elderly or gravely ill Catholics are administered the Last Sacrament as a priest blesses them with holy oil and special prayers. Through the sacrament, sins are forgiven, and recipients also experience spiritual—and for some, even physical healing (should this be conducive for their salvation)—thanks to the grace the sacrament confers. Anointing of the Sick also gives one a sense of peace of mind and heart, and most importantly, it unites one with Christ who also suffered, renewing hope and giving courage to those who are in despair. In other cases, it prepares one to pass on to the next life.


My Pope reader Mari, 44, recalls how the sacrament helped her father as he suffered from cancer. “My dad had received Anointing of the Sick several times throughout his life when he was younger, but I was there when it was given to him as he was dying. He was immediately filled with a sense of calm, and he even recovered long enough to spend one more precious week with our family. When he passed away seven days later, he was at peace and ready to meet his Maker.”


For the full article, grab a copy of My Pope Philippines September 2019 issue.
Text by Stephanie Jesena-Novero and Tata Mapa.SUBSCRIBE NOW


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