Quotations:

I am with you always until the end of this world - Jesus (Matthew 28:20).

Preach the Word in season and out of season reproving, rebuking or advising always with patience and providing instructions (2 Timothy 4:2).

Do not fear, Mary, for God has looked kindly on you (Luke 1:30).

Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly. - G. K. Chesterton

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

7. Anointing of the Sick

In our temporary journey in this world, sickness, can lead to suffering, self-importance, sometimes even hopelessness and revolt against God. It can also make us more mature, helping us determine what is not essential in life such as material things. Very often illness provokes a search for God and a return to him.

This sacred anointing of the sick was instituted by Christ our Lord as a true and proper sacrament of the New Testament. It is alluded to indeed by Mark, but is recommended to the faithful and promulgated by James the apostle and brother of the Lord. (Mark 6:13; James 5:14-15)

Jesus compassion toward the sick and his many healings of every kind of sickness shows that he has come to heal our whole being, soul and body; he is the physician the sick have need of. (Mark 2:17).His compassion toward all who suffer goes so far that he identifies himself with them: "I was sick and you visited me.(Matthew 25:36) His preferential love for the sick has not ceased through the centuries to draw the very special attention of Christians toward all those who suffer in body and soul. It is the source of determined efforts to comfort them.

Often Jesus asks the sick to believe (Mark 5:34, 36; 9:23). He makes use of signs to heal, spittle and the laying on of hands, (Mark 7:32-36; 8:22-25) mud and washing, (John 9:6-7). The sick try to touch him, "for power came forth from him and healed them all." (Luke 6:19, Mark 1:41, 3:10, 6:56). And so in the sacraments Christ continues to "touch" us in order to heal us.

The Holy Spirit gives to some a special charism of healing, (1st Corinthians 12:9, 28, 30) so as to make present the power of the grace of the risen Lord. However, even the most intense prayers do not always obtain the healing of all sickness. Thus St. Paul must learn from the Lord that "my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness," and that the sufferings to be endured can mean that "in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his Body, that is, the Church."(2nd Corinthians 12:9; Col 1:24.)

Only Bishops and Priests are ministers of the Anointing of the Sick. It is their duty to educate Catholics on the benefits of this sacrament. Those who know about this sacrament should encourage the sick to call for a Priest to receive this sacrament. The sick should prepare himself to receive it with good disposition through their bishop or Priest.

In addition to the Anointing of the Sick, the Church offers those who are about to leave this life the Eucharist as Viaticum, Communion in the body and blood of Christ. According to the words of Jesus: "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:54). The Eucharist is the sacrament of passing over from death to life, from this world to the Father. (John 13:1)

The special grace of the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick has as its effects:

· The uniting of the sick person to the passion of Christ, for his own good and that of the whole church.
· The strengthening, peace, and courage to endure in a Christian manner the sufferings of illness or old age.
· The forgiveness of sins, if the sick person was not able to obtain it through the sacrament of Confession.
· The restoration of health, if it is conducive to the salvation of his soul.
· The preparation for passing over to eternal life.

Anointing of the Sick is the last sacrament. To know more about each sacrament I encourage you to read the Catechism of the Church.



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