The Sacrament of the Sick
What is the Sacrament of the Sick? The Sacrament of the Sick is offered to any Catholic over the age of six who is seriously ill or will be undergoing non-elective surgery or medical treatments. It is also available to any older Catholic who feels the weakening of age and body and seeks God's strengthening and help. It is not the "last rites" or extreme unction to be administered only at the moment of death or as death approaches. It is a sacrament that is directed primarily towards healing of the body and spirit and as such is directed towards life. It may be administered as needed, especially if the illness or injury worsens. Please feel free to call the parish office or approach any of the priests to ask for the sacrament for yourself or a loved one.
How do I prepare for the sacrament? The priest brings everything with him for the sacrament so there is no need to find candles or holy water. He will pray for the sick person, lay his hands on their head for healing, and then anoint the forehead and the hands for strengthening in the power of the Holy Spirit.
What do I do about the oil after the priest has left? A simple washing with soap and water and a rinse in the sink suffices to properly clean up after the sacrament.
Can one receive Holy Communion too? Absolutely. In fact, the priest usually brings it with him when he comes to anoint.
How does one go about arranging for the sacrament in the hospital? Normally, this is handled by the chaplain or priest on duty that day. Just speak to one of the nurses and they will arrange it for you. If, however, no priest is available at the hospital that day, call the rectory.
My loved one is unconscious. Can they still receive the Sacrament of the Sick? Yes, as long as it is reasonable to assume that they would have wished to have done so if they were alert.
My loved one has just died. Do they still need to be anointed? No. The Sacrament of the Sick is intended for the healing, not as a final rite of life. If there is some question as to whether or not the person is alive, the priest will always anoint. But if they have clearly died, the rites or prayers for the dead are used instead. One need not fear that because a person was not anointed before they died, they are somehow "unshriven," to use the old term, not forgiven or unprepared to meet God. After death has occurred, it is our prayers that serve to speed the soul of the believer unto God.
Even though I am not physically ill or getting ready for a medical treatment, I still feel the need for God's healing in my life? Can I receive the sacrament? That depends: yes, if you are someone who suffers from a chronic medical-psychological condition like depression or bipolar syndrome; no, if you just feel spiritually "unwell," "bad," or need forgiveness. The proper sacraments for the healing that we need in those instances are the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist.