I have had the wonderful opportunity in the past couple of weeks to offer the Anointing of the Sick to a number of our parishioners preparing for various types of surgical procedures. This powerful Sacrament of the Church is a great gift of Our Lord to the faithful. The Rite includes a short instruction, the laying on of hands by the priest, the anointing with oil, the Lord’s Prayer and the concluding prayer. The Sacrament is meant for those preparing for a serious medical procedure, for those with an ongoing serious illness, for the aged, and for those in imminent danger of death.
The instruction at the beginning of the Rite is taken directly from the Letter of Saint James in the New Testament. It states, ‘Are there people sick among you? Let them send for the priests of the Church, and let the priests pray over them anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick persons, and the Lord will raise them up. If they have committed any sins, their sins will be forgiven them.’ The laying on of hands that follows is the means of invoking the power of the Holy Spirit. This along with the anointing of oil bestows manifold graces to assist the one in need. The Lord’s Prayer is followed by a concluding prayer respective of the particular circumstance of the person in need. For example, for those preparing for a serious medical procedure, the prayer invokes the Lord that healing gifts may be granted through the ‘skills of surgeons and nurses.’
Of course one would not turn to this Sacrament with a common cold or while enduring the common flu. However, any illness and one that is serious and especially dangerous to the elderly is sufficient reason to beseech the graces of this Sacrament. I hear it over and over again by the faithful that receive the Anointing of the Sick that it brings tremendous peace, a true sense of the Lord’s presence in their need, and a powerful aid particularly in preparation for a serious medical procedure. Never hesitate to ask for this great and wonderful Sacrament in time of need. The priest can best determine the best course of action whether it be to bestow the Sacrament or to offer a blessing in the Lord’s Name!
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Have Mercy on Us!