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Chapter 19. Anointing the Sick and the Dying • 253

save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed

any sins, he will be forgiven” (Jas 5:14-15).


The Anointing of the Sick “is not a sacrament for those

only who are at the point of death. Hence as soon as

anyone of the faithful begins to be in danger of death

from sickness or old age, the fitting time to receive this

sacrament has certainly already arrived.”

—CCC, no. 1514, citing SC, no. 73

The Rite of Anointing tells us there is no need to wait until a person

is at the point of death to receive the Sacrament. A careful judgment

about the serious nature of the illness is sufficient. The Sacrament may

be repeated if the sick person recovers after the anointing but becomes ill

once again, or if, during the same illness, the person’s condition becomes

more serious. A person should be anointed before surgery when a dan-

gerous illness is the reason for the intervention (cf. Rite of Anointing,

Introduction, nos. 8-10).

Moreover, “old people may be anointed if they are in weak condi-

tion even though no dangerous illness is present. Sick children may be

anointed if they have sufficient use of reason to be comforted by this

sacrament. . . . [The faithful] should be encouraged to ask for the anoint-

ing, and, as soon as the time for the anointing comes, to receive it with

faith and devotion, not misusing the sacrament by putting it off” (Rite

of Anointing, nos. 11, 12, 13).

Only bishops and priests may be ministers of the Sacrament of the

Anointing of the Sick. A penitential rite followed by the Liturgy of the

Word opens the celebration. Scripture awakens the faith of the sick and

family members and friends to pray to Christ for the strength of his Holy

Spirit. The priest lays his hands on the head of the sick person. He then

proceeds to anoint, with the blessed Oil of the Sick, the forehead and

hands of the sick person (in the Roman Rite). He accompanies these acts

with the words “Through this holy anointing may the Lord in his love