Anointing of the Sick
Among the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church, there is one especially intended to strengthen those who are afflicted with an illness, the Anointing of the Sick. The sacrament dates back to ancient times, when the sick were anointed with blessed oil by priests as a means of asking God’s blessing on them for both healing and strength.
The Anointing of the Sick is not only for those who are at the point of death. It is appropriate for any member of the faithful who is in danger of death from sickness or old age, and even just prior to a serious operation.
In an emergency, a Catholic priest will do his best to rush to the bedside of a person in need of the sacrament of anointing. However, some of the most beautiful celebrations of this sacrament take place at home, where the person to be anointed can join in prayer comfortably and in an unhurried manner, and be strengthened by the presence of family members.
Quite often, a person who is dying will also request the presence of a priest to hear his/her confession, and/or the Eucharist as “viaticum,” or strength for the journey to meet God face-to-face. A desire to receive the Eucharist should be expressed at the time the priest is called, so that he can bring Holy Communion with him.