This sacrament is for those who are seriously ill, which would include those who are experiencing mental or emotional suffering, those preparing for surgery, and those experiencing physical decline of old age. Its origins go back to New Testament times (James 5:14). Catholics should know that, before 1965, this sacrament was popularly known as “Last Rites,” and was administered only at the hour of death. Since 1965, a person can receive it many times in a lifetime, and each time one’s health is in a serious condition.
Only a priest may administer this sacrament. In the procedure, the priest lays hands on the head of a person and prays silently. Then he anoints the forehead and both palms of the person with oil that is blessed by the Bishop each year during Holy Week.
The effects of this sacrament are: unity of the sick person with Christ, strength to endure suffering, forgiveness of sins if the person was not able to obtain it through the sacrament of reconciliation, restoration of health if that is conducive to salvation, and preparation for death (passing to eternal life).
Anyone may make an arrangement for our pastor to anoint a person privately. Our parishes also offer this sacrament after all weekend Masses about twice a year.