From Our Parishioner - Sue Sinnwell When I became Catholic in 1973, I learned about all the sacraments. In 1975, Pope Paul VI said the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick was revised “to lead to a wider availability of the sacrament and to extend it—within reasonable limits—even beyond cases of mortal illness.” Today, this sacrament, like all sacraments, is a community celebration; sickness involves more than bodily illness; and anointing heals us through faith. In 1970 my husband was in a car accident. I became interested in the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick because he would receive it. Then, in 1982, I got thyroid cancer. The first time I received it was in the afternoon at church at a time when only the people who wanted to receive it went to a special anointing. Shortly after that, this sacrament was incorporated into the Sunday Mass. I am sure glad this sacrament has been changed to be more outreaching to all people. When I receive the oil on my forehead and the priest says, “Through this holy anointing may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit.” I say, “Amen.” Then, the priest anoints the palms of my hands with the Sign of the Cross: “May the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up.” I say, “Amen.” I cannot describe what overcomes me next, but it is the warmest and most peaceful feeling. I believe it is the grace of the Holy Spirit that is going through me. That is why I like this sacrament so much. We have the song ‘Taste and See the Goodness of the Lord.’ Well, there should be a song that says ‘Feel and See the Goodness and Grace of the Holy Spirit.’ And an added bonus-- I got the softest forehead and hands from the olive oil that I have ever had! The feeling doesn’t stop there. When we pray together as a community and I feel the placing of hands on me by other parishioners, it gives me a “lifting up” feeling like I am not alone on this journey. I know Jesus is at my side and if I need anything and ask, you will be also. You were at my side when I was going through cancer these last two years. From the people who prayed for me in any way at their home, in church, by the prayer chain and the rosary, and the people who brought in meals, the people that came to my home to visit, the pastoral visits, and people who took me to appointments, the doctors and nurses helping me, all this was greatly appreciated. You are awesome! I will forever hold you in my heart. I have learned so much. Most of all, I have learned not to judge anyone else until I walk in their shoes, because I do not know what their life has been like. I need to have more empathy for people. There is always someone worse off than me. God does have a sense of humor. God also answers prayers in His time. “Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.” Isaiah 40:31.
The Sacraments in Scripture… Anointing of the Sick From U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (usccb.org/jphd): Anointing of the Sick is the sacrament that is received by those who are ill or suffering. By the sacred anointing and the prayer of the priest, the whole Church commends those who are sick to Christ. The sick person receives the Holy Spirit’s gifts of strength, faith, peace, and courage, and his or her suffering is united with the suffering of Christ for the building up of the Church (Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], nos. 1520-23). Through the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, the Church carries out Jesus’ mission of compassion and healing for the sick. The one who is ill can also be a minister to others. By uniting their suffering to Christ, those who are sick can be signs of faith and witnesses of Christ’s Resurrection to the entire community (Pope John Paul II, Christifideles Laici [The Vocation and the Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World], no. 54).
A Communal Celebration The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is both “a liturgical and a communal celebration.” In the family home, hospital, or church, members of the Body of Christ gather for the sacramental rite led by a priest. The Penitential Rite followed by the Liturgy of the Word and sacramental anointing of the sick can inspire and comfort both those who are ill and their family and friends who are gathered (CCC, nos. 1517-18). Many parishes have communal celebrations at which many persons receive the sacrament. These sacramental celebrations are a “source of strength amid pain and weakness, hope amid despair” and a “joyful encounter” for the entire community (Christifideles Laici, no. 54). Connection to the Communion of Saints Anointing with sacred oil is a sign of blessing by the Holy Spirit of the one who is sick. Oil of the Sick, which receives a different blessing from the Chrism oil used during Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders, recalls the community’s sharing of the Holy Spirit and the sick person’s connection to the entire Body of Christ and Communion of Saints. Imitation of Christ’s Compassion In the Gospels, Christ’s great compassion toward the sick is expressed in the miraculous healings he performs, which heal the entire person, both body and soul. Parables such as the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:29-37) and the Judgment of the Nations (Mt 25:31-46) urge Christ’s followers to share his ministry of compassion and healing and to imitate his “preferential love for the sick” and all who suffer (CCC, nos. 1503, 1506; Pope Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis [Sacrament of Charity], no. 22)… Union with Christ’s Passion While it is possible that the sacrament could bring physical healing, Anointing of the Sick is primarily about the healing of hope and of the spirit. Above all, the sacrament allows the person who is ill to unite more closely to Christ’s Passion. This gives suffering a new meaning: a participation in the saving work of Jesus. This is a powerful witness that is for the good of the whole Church (CCC, nos. 1521-22).