March 19, 2017
3rd Sunday of Lent
“…for we have heard for ourselves, and know that this is truly the savior of the world.”
Sacrament of the Sick: Don’t Wait till it’s Too Late!
By Fr. Dennis Thompson
A while back I anointed a man suffering from terminal cancer. Before I administered the Sacrament he said to me: “Father, I want the ultimate gift of healing. I want to be freed from this illness and to be with Jesus. Please tell my family to let me go and have them pray for my peaceful death; this is the healing I desire.” And so I anointed him: “Through this holy anointing may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit. May the Lord, who frees you, heal you, bring you peace, save you from your sins, and raise you up to Life everlasting, In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…Amen.”
The Sacrament of the Sick is an anointing for healing, forgiveness, and peace for individuals suffering body, mind, and soul from chronic and serious illnesses. It used to be called Extreme Unction (Last Rites), because it was the last Sacrament a Catholic received before checking out. This anointing is not the Sacrament of the last breath to push the dying into the gates heaven. Those who are dying are in the hands of God. It’s not just a priest that is needed then, but the prayers of those present; we all can do that as Christians for the dying.
It was the Second Vatican Council that returned the original meaning to this Sacrament by emphasizing that it is not only for those who are at the point of death, but for anyone who is seriously ill, including mental or spiritual illness. This Council also helped move the anointing away from a private bedside service and back toward a community-based prayer in the church for the sick.
I encourage IC parishioners who are suffering from a serious illness to be anointed after all Masses for healing next weekend. This Sacrament is for the sick and not a general anointing or blessing. I also invite the individual needing to be anointed to come any Sunday or weekday Mass with family and friends to receive this healing Sacrament of Jesus. After the Mass all present gather around the individual and lay our hands on the person for healing. We invite Jesus to be present to heal and forgive the person anointed. The grace and mercy of Jesus is present where two or three are gathered in his name. All Sacraments are communal by nature.
“Our mission as Church is to do what Jesus did. Throughout the Gospels we read of Jesus’ concern for the sick and suffering. Healing was also essential to the mission of the disciples: “Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two…. They anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them” (see Mark 6:7-13).”
On the 4th Sunday of Lent, March 25-26,
the Anointing of the Sick
will be offered after all weekend Masses.
“By the sacred anointing of the sick and the prayer of priests the entire Church commends the sick to the suffering and glorified Lord, asking that he lighten their suffering and save them (see James 5:14-16); the Church exhorts them, moreover, to contribute to the welfare of the whole people of God by associating themselves freely with Christ’s passion and death (see Romans 8:17; Colossians 1:24; 2 Timothy 2:11-12; 1 Peter 4:13)” (Church, #11)The Catechism of the Catholic Church.