“Are there people sick among you? Let them send for the priests of the Church, and let the priests pray over them anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick persons, and the Lord will raise them up. If they have committed any sins, their sins will be forgiven them” (James 5:14-15).
The Anointing of the Sick is the official name of the Sacrament that many may remember as the "Last Rites" or "Extreme Unction." In the days before Vatican II, only those in danger of death were anointed, but the Council changed all that. Vatican II - closed in 1965 - has had us follow the more ancient practice of the Church, up to the twelfth century, which is to anoint all the sick for the healing of their bodies and souls.
The desire of the Church is that this Sacrament, intended for healing of body and spirit, be given to a sick person while they are still conscious and can fully participate in its celebration.
The Sacrament should be celebrated as early as possible in a serious sickness, not when death is close and the patient is sedated beyond consciousness. The sick person should be given the best opportunity to express his/her faith consciously by participating in the Anointing of the Sick. It is also important that family and friends try to be present for the Sacrament so that the sick person will experience the support of family and friends. Of course, there will be times when emergencies happen, such as an automobile accident or heart attack, when a priest needs to be called and the Anointing of the Sick given to a person who is unconscious and near death.
We anoint any person who is seriously ill, in danger of death, weakened due to old age (even if no serious illness is present), or preparing for serious surgery due to illness. One should not necessarily wait until they are on their deathbed to receive this Sacrament. In addition, those who have received the anointing and recovered, but again fall ill, or those whose condition becomes more serious during the same illness, may receive the Sacrament again. The dead are not anointed, as no Sacrament is effective for those who are not living. For the dead, we say prayers and trust their souls to the mercy of God
The purpose of the Sacrament is to comfort the person who is ill and to strengthen his/her faith. The illness can be physical, emotional or psychological. The Anointing of the Sick is ministered by a bishop or priest who anoints the sick person on the forehead and on the hands with the Oil of the Sick. Oil is a symbol of strength, so the use of oil helps us visibly connect with the Sacrament’s purpose of strengthening the person who is being tried by illness.
The “Prayer after Anointing” is a beautiful prayer and says, “Father in heaven. through this holy anointing grant N. comfort in his/her suffering When he/she is afraid, give him/her courage, when afflicted, give him/her patience, when dejected, afford him/her hope, and when alone, assure him/her of the support of your holy people. We ask this through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.
If you or a loved one is ill, please call the parish at (228) 467-6509 to be anointed. If you wish to be anointed before surgery, please contact a priest who can arrange to anoint you before or after Mass if you are able to come to the church, or it can be done in your home.
Our Lady of the Gulf offers two communal “Anointing of the Sick” within the context of a Mass, during Advent and Lent. Anyone who feels so disposed can participate in this communal anointing.