Anointing of the Sick

Dear Friends

            I’d like to talk a little bit about the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. We have moved the regular schedule from first Fridays which is always a little fuller than our regular daily mass schedule and moved them to first Thursdays. In addition, we will not be offering anointing at every parish on first Thursday, but it will rotate between the four cluster parishes. We started this on January 2nd at St. Edward (there was no school that day), and it continues this coming Thursday, February  6th at St. George Parish at their 8:15 am mass. In March it will the  5th at the 10:30 am mass at St. Peter and in April on the 2nd at St. Paul. We’ll publish the dates again as they approach.

Just as a general rule of thumb, anointing should be received when facing a serious illness, due to old age or preparation for surgery. Anointing should be received at the beginning of an illness rather than waiting until a person is very near death. Often we think of it as “extreme unction” or what was often referred to as “last rites.” In actuality the last thing a person is supposed to receive before death is the Eucharist. Because Anointing is supposed to happen at the beginning of an illness, the last sacrament a person is supposed to receive is the Eucharist, in this context referred to as “Viaticum” (from the Latin “with you on the way”) or “food for the journey.” I would ask that those responsible call the parish office and request viaticum from the priest or a lay minister while the person is still able to swallow so that we can ensure that they receive this sacrament before he/she dies.

Unlike Confession and Eucharist, Anointing of the Sick is not intended to be repeated often. One Anointing brings all of the graces necessary to endure an illness. Anointing should only be repeated for a different grave illness, or a significant worsening of the original illness. If you have someone who is in need of the sacrament, please call the parish office and arrange for a visit. In addition, we have several Eucharistic Ministers who would be more than happy to visit your loved one at home, in the hospital or nursing home. They can bring communion, pray and visit with you or your loved one. Please let us know what we can do to help you in difficult times.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Scott Connolly