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Extreme Unction

("Last Anointing"). A sacrament of the New Law in which, by anointing with oil and the prayers of the priest, health of soul and (sometimes) of body is conferred on a baptized person who is in danger of death through sickness. (Definition from A Catholic Dictionary, 1951)
 

References in Scripture:

  • "Is any man sick among you? Let him bring in the priests of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith shall save the sick man: and the Lord shall raise him up: and if he be in sins, they shall be forgiven him" James 5:14-15
  • "And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them." Mark 6:13
     

Church Teaching:

  • "That Extreme Unction is strictly speaking a Sacrament, is first to be explained; and this the words of St. James the Apostle, promulgating the law of this Sacrament, clearly establish. Is any man, he says, sick amongst you ? Let him bring in the priests of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall save the sick man; and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he be in sins, they shall be forgiven him. When the Apostle says that sins are forgiven, he ascribes to Extreme Unction the nature and efficacy of a Sacrament.
    That such has been at all times the doctrine of the Catholic Church on Extreme Unction, many Councils testify, and the Council of Trent denounces anathema against all who presume to teach or think otherwise. Innocent I also recommends this Sacrament with great earnestness to the attention of the faithful" Catechism of Council of Trent, The Sacrament of Extreme Unction
  • "Now, this sacred unction of the sick was instituted by Christ our Lord, as truly and properly a sacrament of the new law, insinuated indeed in Mark, but recommended and promulgated to the faithful by James the Apostle, and brother of the Lord. Is any man, he saith, sick among you ? Let him bring in the priests of the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall save the sick man; and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he be in sins, they shall be forgiven him. In which words, as the Church has learned from apostolic tradition, received from hand to hand, he teaches the matter, the form, the proper minister, and the effect of this salutary sacrament. For the Church has understood the matter thereof to be oil blessed by a bishop. For the unction very aptly represents the grace of the Holy Ghost with which the soul of the sick person is invisibly anointed; and furthermore that whose words, "By this unction," &c. are the form." Council of Trent, On the Institution of the Sacrament of Extreme Unction
  • "CANON II.--If any one saith, that the sacred unction of the sick does not confer grace, nor remit sin, nor comfort(h) the sick; but that it has already ceased, as though it were of old only the grace of working Cures; let him be anathema" Council of Trent, Sacrament of Extreme Unction
  • "Q: What are the effects of Extreme Unction?
    A: The sacrament of Extreme Unction produces the following effects: (1) It increases sanctifying grace; (2) It remits venial sins, and also mortal sins which the sick person, if contrite, is unable to confess; (3) It takes away weakness and sloth which remain even After pardon has been obtained; (4) It gives strength to bear illness patiently, to withstand temptation and to die holily; (5) It aids in restoring us to health of body if it is for the good of the soul." Catechism of St. Pius X, The Sacrament of Extreme Unction
  • "Q: When should Extreme Unction be received?
    A: Extreme Unction should be received when the illness is dangerous, and after the sick person has received, if possible, the sacraments of Penance and the Blessed Eucharist; it is even well to receive it while he has the use of his senses, and has still some hope of recovery" Catechism of St. Pius X, The Sacrament of Extreme Unction
     

Summary

All Catholics should make good use of the Sacrament of Extreme Unction for themselves, friends, and family members without waiting too long for a sickness to progress. Be sure to contact a priest as soon as possible when there is the slightest chance you, a friend, or family member may have a serious sickness or injury. This Sacrament may aid the person in recovery or may at least bring the person's soul to a state of grace if God chooses to take them.

 

 

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