The sacrament of anointing of the sick began as a ritual of healing. Over time the emphasis shifted to the forgiveness of sins on the deathbed, when such forgiveness would be the final preparation for heaven. The Second Vatican Council returned the original meaning to the sacrament by emphasizing that it is not only for those who are at the point of death, but for anyone who is seriously ill, including mental or spiritual illness. It also helped move the Anointing away from a private service and back toward a community-based one.
Today we are all aware that tensions, fear and anxiety about the future affect not only our mind but our body as well. These illnesses can be serious. They can move us to ask for the healing touch of Christ in the Sacrament of Anointing. Persons with the disease of alcoholism or persons suffering from other addictions can be anointed. So can those who suffer from various mental disorders. The anxiety before exploratory surgery to determine if cancer is present is a situation in which Christ’s power can be invoked in the sacrament.
In these cases the person does not have to wait until the illness is so grave that he or she is in the hospital or institutionalized to celebrate the sacrament. Sacraments, after all, are community celebrations. It is preferable to celebrate them in the context of family and parish even before going to the hospital. The sick person has a better opportunity to appreciate the prayers and symbols of the rite when in her or his customary worshiping community.
At St. Joseph Parish we have an Anointing Service once per year, usually in mid-October. Here in the context of the Eucharist, all who are ill physically or spiritually, are invited to attend the Service and celebrate as community, the sacrament of the anointing of the sick.
Throughout the year, if you are faced with severe illness or impending serious surgery, you are encouraged to contact the Parish Office to arrange to receive the sacrament.
If hospitalized, please notify the Parish Office to request visitation. Under the new HIPPA confidentiality law, hospitals are no longer permitted to notify parishes of parishioner’s presence in the hospital. Be sure to alert the intake persons that you are Catholic and the Pastoral Care office will see that a chaplain stops by to see you in the hospital.
To arrange to be anointed while ill at home, or in advance of serious surgery, please call the Parish Office at 440-988-2848.