What did the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick look like in the early Church? Was it used, as it is today, or was it used only in case of death, like extreme unction?
“Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.” James 5:14
“[The penitent Christian] does not shrink from declaring his sin to a priest of the Lord and from seeking medicine . . . [of] which the apostle James says: ‘If then there is anyone sick, let him call the presbyters of the Church, and let them impose hands upon him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and if he be in sins, they shall be forgiven him.” (Homilies on Leviticus 2:4 [A.D. 250]). Origen
It doesn’t mention anything about only anointing in danger of death, but it does mention that it does forgive sins, so we can assume that it was only administered in danger of death.
In the later Middle Ages, Extreme Unction wasn’t administered until the absolute point of death. It wasn’t until after Vatican II that it was taught that Extreme Unction shouldn’t be reserved to the absolute point of death, as was done before.
Last year in Religion class I learned that in the beginning, any average Joe Christian could anoint the sick with chrism that had been blessed by the Bishop. However, eventually, this could onlycbe done by the ordained and became like bben said above.
Thanks for the info! I’ve been enjoying reading about the developments of the sacraments and practices of the Church.
The person that taught you that was incorrect. Only a priest can validly anoint the sick. Always has been, always will be.