What Is It?
The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is exactly what it says. It is a prayerful celebration for someone or for a group of people who are ill and are blessed by the priest with Holy Oil. It is not a sign that someone is dying as it was perceived in olden times. It is not a magical ritual; the person doesn’t automatically gets better immediately after an anointing. God’s healing and loving presence are called upon that the sick person might be raised up and restored to health.
The words of blessing over the oil say it all. It is “oil intended to ease the sufferings of your people”. Oil soothes and heals. Oil blessed for the sick is a sign of the Anointed One (Messiah) of God. The person so anointed receives the healing, saving power of the One who saves (Messiah).
The oil that is used is Olive Oil. The Bishop and priests bless it at the ‘Chrism Mass’ on Holy Thursday in the Cathedral. The holy oils are then taken each year to each parish and hospital for use throughout the year in the Sacrament of the Sick.
A person is anointed on the forehead and the palms of the hands while the priest says: “Through this holy anointing may the Lord in his love and mercy help you by the grace of the Holy Spirit. May the Lord who heals you, save you and raise you up.”
Who Can Be Anointed?
Anyone in ‘serious illness’, those who are infirm, in advanced years, or anyone prior to surgery. (It is not only for when a person is in ‘danger of death’.)