What happened to the Last Rites?
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Not so long ago they really were the “Last Rites”. The last thing a sick person’s relative wanted to do was to “send for the priest”, and that was often delayed as long as possible to avoid alarming the patient.
This attitude to the Sacrament of the Sick has been firmly rejected by the Church. Vatican II says: it “is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death. Hence, as soon as anyone of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for them to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived”.
The Anointing like all the Sacraments is a prayer of the whole Church. Consequently, it is entirely suitable that there can be services, especially Mass, during which the anointing is conferred, for instance during pilgrimages to Lourdes, but also from time to time in the home parish.
The frailty of old age itself may make one need the grace of this sacrament. And also “It is fitting to receive the Anointing of the Sick just prior to a serious operation” says the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
How many times may we receive the Sacrament of the Sick? The answer is: each time a person is seriously ill, and also again in the same illness if the patient’s condition worsens.
After all, the Anointing is a Sacrament in which the Church prays for the strengthening of the sick, in body as well as spirit. St James gives us the practice of the earliest times: “Is there any among you sick? Let him call for the presbyters of the Church and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven”.
On the 1st Saturday of each month AFTER the 12.15pm Mass those who wish to be anointed will be invited to remain in church and the priest will administer the Sacrament of the Sick. This will start on Saturday 5th September. All are welcome.
Last Modified on Sat 1st Aug 2015 11:40:10