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Catholic Apologetics

Chapter 17 -- Anointing of the Sick


Anointing of the Sick grants the recipients the grace from God for the supernatural salvation of their souls while also effecting the natural healing of their bodies. The priest anoints them with oils while reciting prayers, thus the name of the sacrament.

Many challenge whether Anointing of the Sick is a sacrament at all. Most non-Catholics consider it a nominal blessing at best, and not worthy of the status of sacrament. Some say it is a sacrament in appearance only. Let's explore the foundations of the sacrament.

Mark 6:13 - They drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

Jesus sent out the twelve apostles during His ministry to spread the good news. Mark's gospel recalls how they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them. They did as Jesus initiated, and told them to do.

James 5:14 - Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint (him) with oil in the name of the Lord and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven.

James is speaking to the Christian brothers. He repeats the instruction to anoint with oil and pray, as has been handed down by the apostles. Here we also see the intended results of receiving the sacrament.

We have all the necessary ingredients to be considered a sacrament. As we recall, a sacrament is a visible sign, instituted by Christ, by which grace is conveyed to our souls. There is a visible sign (the anointing and praying), instituted by Christ (as seen in the gospel of Mark above), by which grace is conveyed to our souls (the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and his sins will be forgiven, as James states above).

Parting Comments

The sacrament was at one time called "Extreme Unction". That changed in Vatican II to align the name with the original intention of the sacrament.

Anointing of the sick is not required for salvation. If one never receives the sacrament, it will not hinder the opportunity to spend eternity with the Lord. However, if a person is incapacitated and in jeapordy of death, this sacrament will effect the forgiveness of sins, even without a formal confession.

The sacrament may be received several times, although not twice for the same illness, unless a relapse occurs.

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