The Lord Jesus Christ, physician of our souls and bodies, who forgave the sins of the paralytic and restored him to bodily health, has willed that his Church continue, in the power of the Holy Spirit, his work of healing and salvation, even among her own members. This is the purpose of . . .the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.” Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1421
The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick brings healing, comfort, and strength, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, to those who are sick or elderly. If you are facing a serious illness or planning to undergo a medical procedure in the near future, please notify the Parish Office at 313.885.8855, with information on illness, hospitalization, and nursing home status. You may also contact the Parish Office for arrangements for an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion (EEM) to visit your home during your recovery.
Is Anointing of the Sick the same as Last Rites?
No. According to Msgr. M. Francis Mannion, before the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II), “anointing of the sick” and the “last rites” were often done together. There was a tendency to wait as long as possible, and to have these rites celebrated in close proximity to death. The reforms after Vatican II went to great lengths to separate the rites associated with sickness and death and to distinguish the anointing of the sick from the rites to be used at the time of death.”
What is Viaticum?
The rites described as “Last Rites” today are the celebration of Viaticum, the Commendation of the Dying and the Prayers for the Dead. When someone is close to death (and has been anointed already), they should receive holy Communion for the last time (though this may be repeated if the person lingers in illness).
Viaticum is complemented by the Commendation of the Dying — some of the most beautiful and powerful prayers in the Church’s repertoire. These should be said at the time of death or when death is clearly imminent. Then there are the Prayers for the Dead, which are intended for use after the person has died. These are meant to send the dead person on his or her way and to comfort those who are present.
It is ideal if a priest or deacon is present at the time of death, but this is not always feasible. In the absence of a priest or deacon, the Commendation of the Dying and the Prayers for the Dead may be said by one of those present.