The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, formerly known as Last Rites or Extreme Unction, is a ritual of healing, appropriate not only for physical but also for mental and spiritual sickness.
A Communal Celebration
The sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is a community celebration that is a symbol of Christ's healing presence on earth. The sacrament may be received by anyone who is seriously ill-physically, mentally, spiritually, or emotionally, regardless of age or nearness to death. Each is invited to participate in this rite of healing.
At the Church of the Holy Family, our mission is to follow in Jesus' footsteps and extend our hands and hearts to those in need of compassion and healing. You are invited to join in community to share your burden and be touched by Christ's healing spirit at the Healing Mass.
"Come to me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon your shoulders and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart. Your souls will find rest, for my yoke is easy and my burden light."
A Sacrament of Healing
Sacraments are acts of faith; they grace the whole person-body, soul and spirit. In the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick we pray that the sick be healed in body, in soul and in spirit. God alone knows what kind of healing the sick need most: that a wound be healed; that a fear turn to confidence; that loneliness be embraced by the support of a praying community; that confusion in the face of all the whys why me, why suffering, why now-turn to in sight.
Today one does not have to be a doctor to know that physical health is related to mental and spiritual health. Today we are all aware that tensions, fear and anxiety about the future affect not only our mind but our body as well. The mind, body, and spirit connection is strong. The healing touch of Christ in the Sacrament of Anointing places our hurts, limitations and dependence in His hands.
Does it work? Will I experience healing? When our attention is directed toward physical illness, it is natural to think of the effects of the sacrament in terms of physical healing. But we are more than our physical body and so we look to the Sacrament of Anointing as a source of strength for mind, body, and spirit, and we learn that we are not alone.
The Healing Mass
There are special aspects to the celebration of the Mass for Anointing of the Sick. After the traditional welcome, prayers are said for those to be anointed, followed by the readings. After the homily, the litany of prayers is said for those who will be anointed and those who care for them. Those to be anointed then come to the altar where the celebrant lays hands on each, recalling the spirit of Jesus. At sunset, all who had people sick with various diseases brought them to him. He laid his hands on each of them and cured them" (Luke 4:40). Oil is then brought to the altar and a prayer is said over the oil. The celebrant makes the Sign of the Cross with the blest oil on the sick person's forehead, reciting this prayer. "Through this holy anointing may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit." All respond: "Amen." Then the priest anoints the palms of the sick one's hands with the Sign of the Cross, praying "May the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up." All respond: "Amen." From this point, the Mass continues as usual.