Anointing of the Sick - who can/should receive it?


#1

I know this sacrament is reserved for those who are seriously ill (not necessarily in danger of death)…but is this confined to physical illnesses? Could someone with bipolar disorder receive the sacrament? Someone who struggles with drug/alcohol addiction? Someone who struggles with other addictions to sinful vices? What about illnesses that are solely spiritual in nature, such as scrupulousity?

What about someone like me, who has been dealing with a chronic stomach ailment that causes extreme heartburn and vomiting? Would that be a “serious illness”?


#2

Extract from newadvent.org/cathen/05716a.htm
Search for the heading “Subject” and see paragraph 2.

(2) Grave or serious bodily illness is required for the valid reception of extreme unction. This implied in the text of St. James and in Catholic tradition (see above, III), and is formally stated in the decree of Eugene IV for the Armenians: “This sacrament is not to be given except to the sick person, of whose death fears are entertained” (Denzinger, no. 700–old no. 595), and in the teaching of the Council of Trent that “this unction is to be administered to the sick, but especially to those who seem to be at the point of death [in exitu vitæ]” (Sess. XIV, cap. iii, De Extr. Unct.). It is clear from these words of Trent that extreme unction is not for the dying alone, but for all the faithful who are seriously ill with any sickness as involves danger of death (discrimen vitæ, ibid.), i.e. as may probably terminate fatally. How grave must be the illness or how proximate the danger of death is not determined by the council, but is left to be decided by the speculations of theologians and the practical judgment of priests directly charged with the duty of administering the sacrament. And there have been, and perhaps still are, differences of opinion and of practice in this matter.

Based on that alone without doing any other research to confirm it… I would say it probably should only be in situations where there is a reasonable fear of death. So, no, to all of your examples. But talk with a priest.


#3

vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p2s2c2a5.htm

The Catechism states that it is “not only for those who are at the point of death”. It gives two examples of someone who is about to have an operation and an elderly person “whose fraility becomes more pronounced”. The term “grave illness” is used in the Catechism rather than “danger of death”, and grave illness is a much more broad term.

It’s confusing, and there are differing opinions on it.


#4

Right, so it’s best to talk about the specific situation with a priest… he will know what to do.

In the case of a serious operation, I think the idea is that there are inherent risks of not returning from the anesthesia, particularly for someone who was in poor enough condition that they needed serious surgery (although even on rare occasions someone will die while getting their wisdom teeth removed!)

Pronounced frailty in the old seems like a preemptive strike. If someone is old and suddenly you no longer think of them as healthy, they may be on their way out. These things can happen all of a sudden, so if they could be on their way, it’s best to give them that Sacrament as soon as possible…


#5

I wonder what the case would be with, say, someone who is HIV+. Until their t-cell count drops below a certain level and they start getting AIDS-related opportune infections, they aren’t really in danger of death…but at the same time, HIV is an extremely grave illness in itself and the Sacrament could give the person both comfort and grace, and could give them a much better outlook on their condition, which would enable them to view death with hope rather than fear.

I would imagine priests likely err on the side of caution, for the most part, and give the Sacrament if someone asks for it…some probably are more willing to give it out for certain things than others.


#6

Catechism:

II. WHO RECEIVES AND WHO ADMINISTERS THIS SACRAMENT?

In case of grave illness . . .

1514 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 for him to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived."130

1515 If a sick person who received this anointing recovers his health, he can in the case of another grave illness receive this sacrament again. If during the same illness the person’s condition becomes more serious, the sacrament may be repeated. It is fitting to receive the Anointing of the Sick just prior to a serious operation. The same holds for the elderly whose frailty becomes more pronounced.

scborromeo.org/ccc/p2s2c2a5.htm#II

Regarding the serious operation - it is not the operation itself. But the illness that is the reason for it.

The instruction of the Rite notes:

“A sick person may be anointed before surgery whenever a serious illness is the reason for the surgery.”

Anointing is not for any illness or disorder or any surgery as some mistakenly have thought at times.


#7

everyone should receive treatment, i myself suffer from manic depression and cant imagine how i would cope without receiving treatment


#8

Catechism:

II. WHO RECEIVES AND WHO ADMINISTERS THIS SACRAMENT?

In case of grave illness . . .

1514 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 for him to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived."130

1515 If a sick person who received this anointing recovers his health, he can in the case of another grave illness receive this sacrament again. If during the same illness the person’s condition becomes more serious, the sacrament may be repeated. It is fitting to receive the Anointing of the Sick just prior to a serious operation. The same holds for the elderly whose frailty becomes more pronounced.

scborromeo.org/ccc/p2s2c2a5.htm#II

Regarding the serious operation - it is not the operation itself. But the illness that is the reason for it.

The instruction of the Rite notes:

“A sick person may be anointed before surgery whenever a serious illness is the reason for the surgery.”

Anointing is not for any illness or disorder or any surgery as some mistakenly have thought at times.


#9

I received the Sacrament of Healing/Anointing of the Sick, and was healed. This was not a ‘physical illness’ per se (cancer, diabetes, broken bones, sinus infection, backache, etc), nor was I in danger of immediate death.

I have spoken to my own personal priest regarding receiving the Sacrament, as well as the priest conferring it. It was not only allowed, it was encouraged. I have received the Sacrament for something else (another illness), but was not immediately healed in the way that I prayed for. Praise God for His Healing and Sacraments that He has given to us, His lowly servants. Thank you oh Lord for any cross that I may bear, especially if that cross strengthens me, or relieves others of their suffering. Praise Him for all Good, and for all things. Amen, Amen, Amen!


#10

Catechism:

II. WHO RECEIVES AND WHO ADMINISTERS THIS SACRAMENT?

In case of grave illness . . .

1514 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 for him to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived."130

1515 If a sick person who received this anointing recovers his health, he can in the case of another grave illness receive this sacrament again. If during the same illness the person’s condition becomes more serious, the sacrament may be repeated. It is fitting to receive the Anointing of the Sick just prior to a serious operation. The same holds for the elderly whose frailty becomes more pronounced.

scborromeo.org/ccc/p2s2c2a5.htm#II

Regarding the serious operation - it is not the operation itself. But the illness that is the reason for it.

The instruction of the Rite for the Sacrament notes:

“A sick person may be anointed before surgery whenever a serious illness is the reason for the surgery.”

Anointing is not just for any illness or disorder or any surgery as some mistakenly have thought at times.

The key is being “in danger” of death. That is serious illnesses. Dangerously ill- not only being sick. Though it is to be noted that in cases of “doubt” the Sacrament is given.

(Also if a person perseveres in manifest grave sin they are not to be anointed)


#11

It seems to me that both the clergy and the laity have differing opinions as to when the sacrament is appropriate.

What about when the sacrament is offered during/after Mass? Surely not everyone who receives it isn’t in danger of death, and surely the Parish Priest in question knows this.

Hmm. Interesting.


#12

The sacrament can be administered to certain members that “begins to be in danger due to sickness or old age” or “again falls into a serious sickness”.

CIC:Canon 1002
The communal celebration of the anointing of the sick for many of the sick at the same time who are duly prepared and rightly disposed can be performed according to the prescriptions of the diocesan bishop.

Canon 1004

  1. The anointing of the sick can be administered to a member of the faithful who, after having reached the use of reason, begins to be in danger due to sickness or old age.
  2. This sacrament can be repeated whenever the sick person again falls into a serious sickness after convalescence or whenever a more serious crisis develops during the same sickness

#13

See above posts.

Persons in attendance need to be instructed as to who may receive the Sacrament - it is not a “if your sick come forward” kind of thing. It is the Church that determines such. Sometimes unfortunately what ought to be done does not always get done everywhere.

The Sacrament only for those at deaths door? No. But is is not for just any sickness or illness (like heartburn or stomach problems).

1514 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 for him to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived."130


#14

I have received the anointing of the sick for a mental illness, so no, it is not only for physical illnesses. I think each priest decides on a case by case basis. I would talk to your priest and then trust his judgement whether or not it is for you at this time.


#15

In my example, I have Crohn’s disease, a chronic autoimmune disease of the small and sometimes large intestines. I received the annointing just prior to getting surgery done for it this past January. Since I am put under for it, there is the risk factor of death if things go wrong in regards to the anesthesia. I had talked to the deacon who helped my wife and I with marriage prep in regards to it, and he had the Priest of our Parish give me it.

I don’t think it is just for normal day to day, so I don’t use it normally, but when there is something like a surgery that I have to undergo… I will get it done.


#16

#17

Note: It would *not * be the “being put under anesthesia as being a “risk”” -itself - that would be a reason for receiving the Sacrament.


#18

#19

Understandable in regards to the anesthsia not being a core reason, though much else could go wrong that IMO would qualify.

Prior to surgery… any sort of complication can happen especially when it is within the internal operating of the body that is involved. In regards to myself, for Crohn’s disease, bowel obstruction can happen, and does happen. This isn’t like a terminal illness, but it is one that CAN cause death if untreated properly. In my case, I was partially obstructing prior to surgery, and needed to get this done… as if a total obstruction were to happen, I would indeed be dead. A day’s time, or even hour’s time can be a night and day difference…things happen so quickly. I wouldn’t call my disease a “grave” illness normally, but it could indeed become that pretty quick if certain things do happen.

I still think the actual annointing is subjective to the seriousness of the illness, no matter what it may be. Right now, I have active disease, but I do not receive it as it isn’t at a serious point. Ultimately the Priest’s discretion (to which my reason for it was valid in both the Deacon and Priest’s eyes). If things get that bad again, and I do need to have surgery again, I will indeed get it again.


#20

I no knowing of Crohn’s disease and thus am not addressing that aspect. Out of my competence.

Only that the Sacrament of the Anointing is not simply for “risk due to surgery.”

See my longer post above for details.


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