Can I receive the Sacrament of the Sick?


#1

Next week my parish is having a special Mass, aimed mainly for the over 60's but open to everyone, at which the Anointing of the Sick will be available to anyone who would like to receive it.

Although i don't have any health problems that are life-threatening, I do have several on-going health problems. Would it be legitimate for me to receive the Sacrament of the Sick at this Mass? Or should it only be received by people with illnesses that could be seen as life-threatening?


#2

Your priest is probably the best person to advise you.

This is from the Catechism:

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


#3

Canon Law: vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P3M.HTM


#4

Colin B. Donovan, STL over at EWTN notes the following ewtn.com/expert/expertfaqframe.asp

He notes: "From the canons and the ritual it is clear that the sacrament may not be given indiscriminately. So, for example, the following may not receive"....."3. One who is not in danger from sickness or infirmity of age. Those who are simply ill or old, without danger from sickness or infirmity, may not be anointed. Even communal celebrations of the Sacrament presume this condition (c.1002)."

Such is what he notes. The Bishop may have further light on the subject etc etc.


#5

[quote="ssa_trad_cath, post:1, topic:291429"]
Next week my parish is having a special Mass, aimed mainly for the over 60's but open to everyone, at which the Anointing of the Sick will be available to anyone who would like to receive it.

Although i don't have any health problems that are life-threatening, I do have several on-going health problems. Would it be legitimate for me to receive the Sacrament of the Sick at this Mass? Or should it only be received by people with illnesses that could be seen as life-threatening?

[/quote]

I will be frank here. Your priest is probably not the best person to ask whether you should receive. By doing this, he is already showing that he does not understand the nature of the sacrament. It should not be opened up to "the public" like this, to anyone who wants to receive it.

From what I can tell, you probably souldn't be anointed. But if at all possible, try to find a good, holy priest, and talk to him. You should also let the bishop know that your pastor is doing these public anointing.


#6

Actually the rite does allow for public anointings. One parish I know does it at Mass one Saturday a month. We do it following a Sunday Mass in our chapel once a month. It actually is very nice when done with a group. Of course the invite to receive should be for those who need it. You just don't receive it if you have a cold or arthritis (unless it is debilitating). I received it at a public anointing before I went in for surgery.


#7

Even in a group it is ONLY for those mentioned in Can 1004 to 1007. In short, its only for those in old age or danger of death through sickness (going for surgery would come under this).


#8

When they publicly anoint a large group of people, IMHO, there really should be some sort of announcement that the anointing is for people who are physically at risk of death, such as the aged infirm, those with life-threatening illnesses, or those who are facing serious surgery.

An anointing is offered after the evening Mass every week in my parish, which is a new parish to me. At the end of Mass, Father announced that everyone could come up and be anointed. I fell in with the rest of the congregation. I think everyone who attended Mass that evening got anointed.

Now, leaving aside the metaphysical argument that we are all dying, nobody looked all that infirm to me, including myself. My worst health issue at the time was a tiny patch of psoriasis on my elbow. Aggravating, yes. Life threatening, I doubt it.

So I went up and got anointed, same as everyone else there that evening. On reflection, I think it trivialized the Sacrament.

I've legitimately received the Sacrament of the Sick three times in my life, all were before some pretty major surgical procedures (orthopedic, and two obstetric emergencies.) Believe me, the Sacrament enabled me to lay on that gurney outside the operating room in peace instead of anxiety, and I do believe that receiving the Sacrament contributed to my physical recovery each time. When one's soul is at peace, it's easier for one's body to do the work of recovery.

I'm just trying to figure out how I can discreetly remain in my pew, and head out the side door the next time the Sacrament of the Sick is offered in this way.


#9

[quote="thistle, post:7, topic:291429"]
Even in a group it is ONLY for those mentioned in Can 1004 to 1007. In short, its only for those in old age or danger of death through sickness (going for surgery would come under this).

[/quote]

It is not only for those in danger of death. You could have a serious medical condition but not be in danger of death. For example, you find out you have diabetes. Currently you are not in danger of death but eventually it can be life threatening. You can receive the sacrament. It has to be a serious illness or condition. Say you broke your leg, you can get anointed.

Many people fear receiving the sacrament because they associate it with dying. We have had people refuse when they are home asking for a priest to bring them communion or hear a confession because they think you only receive the sacrament when you are in danger of dying. By refusing they deny themselves the graces of the sacrament.

I do agree that it should not be an open invitation and should be explained. I was in a parish once where they did it after a mass every week and the same people (with maybe one or two occasional new ones) came up to receive the sacrament. This went on for years and these same people were receiving it every week. Finally a new pastor announced that only those who has a serious illness or condition and hadn't been anointed in the last two or three months could come up to receive it. You can receive it again but only if your condition worsens. I think he was being too generous in telling them they could receive in two months,


#10

[quote="Joannm, post:9, topic:291429"]
It is not only for those in danger of death. You could have a serious medical condition but not be in danger of death. For example, you find out you have diabetes. Currently you are not in danger of death but eventually it can be life threatening. You can receive the sacrament. It has to be a serious illness or condition. Say you broke your leg, you can get anointed.

Many people fear receiving the sacrament because they associate it with dying. We have had people refuse when they are home asking for a priest to bring them communion or hear a confession because they think you only receive the sacrament when you are in danger of dying. By refusing they deny themselves the graces of the sacrament.

I do agree that it should not be an open invitation and should be explained. I was in a parish once where they did it after a mass every week and the same people (with maybe one or two occasional new ones) came up to receive the sacrament. This went on for years and these same people were receiving it every week. Finally a new pastor announced that only those who has a serious illness or condition and hadn't been anointed in the last two or three months could come up to receive it. You can receive it again but only if your condition worsens. I think he was being too generous in telling them they could receive in two months,

[/quote]

Canon Law which Bookcat quoted for you earlier. See Can 1004.

THOSE ON WHOM THE ANOINTING OF THE SICK IS TO BE CONFERRED

Can. 1004 §1. The anointing of the sick can be administered to a member of the faithful who, having reached the use of reason,** begins to be in danger due to sickness or old age.**

§2. This sacrament can be repeated if the sick person, having recovered, again becomes gravely ill or if the condition becomes more grave during the same illness.

Can. 1005 This sacrament is to be administered in a case of doubt whether the sick person has attained the use of reason, is dangerously ill, or is dead.

Can. 1006 This sacrament is to be conferred on the sick who at least implicitly requested it when they were in control of their faculties.

Can. 1007 The anointing of the sick is not to be conferred upon those who persevere obstinately in manifest grave sin.


#11

It does’t say in danger of death. Any health issue can be dangerous as it can escalate into something else or cause major disabilities or affect a person’s quality of life without leading to death.


#12

Danger implies life threatening. Its ridiculous to say someone who breaks a leg should receive the Anointing of the Sick otherwise under that thought process it would cover a person who has a cold.


#13

I recently had cataract surgery. I asked one of our priests for the anointing. [He is strictly by the book.] He said that ordinarily that would not be sufficient justification, but since I have diabetes, which makes me more vulnerable to infection and slower to heal, he anointed me.

I think it is justified for anyone undergoing general anesthesia; also for a mother approaching childbirth.


#14

I don’t disagree with you but a line has to be drawn. Breaking a leg, having flu, or things like that do not justify the Anointing of the Sick otherwise anyone with the least little thing could say it might lead to something a lot worse.


#15

I lost count of who said what. But to the person that made the statement that many did not look sick - I don’t think that we have a right to judge. I am epileptic. It is a chronic medical condition that most certainly does leave me in danger of death but I promise you I don’t look sick until it rears it’s ugly head.


#16

I remember hearing a priest on Mother Angelica some years back. He was dying, but looked healthy. He said he was going to have engraved on his tombstone: “I told you I was sick”. :smiley:


#17

@ Joan: Please be assured that I was in no way questioning the fact that there may have been some people in that church that week who looked hale and hearty to the casual observer but in fact may have had some serious or life-threatening medical condition. I’m certainly not a doctor! I do, however, doubt that everyone in a packed parish church had a significant health problem, and this is what I was referring to: Everyone processed forward and received an anointing. My small patch of psoriasis on the elbow and my sore feet didn’t, to my way of thinking, rise to the standard of being an appropriate candidate for receiving the Sacrament, and my concern is that such group anointings may trivialize what is, after all, a Sacrament, therefore something to be received with sober reflection. I will keep you with your serious health problem in my prayers this week.


#18

[quote="odile53, post:17, topic:291429"]
@ Joan: Please be assured that I was in no way questioning the fact that there may have been some people in that church that week who looked hale and hearty to the casual observer but in fact may have had some serious or life-threatening medical condition. I'm certainly not a doctor! I do, however, doubt that everyone in a packed parish church had a significant health problem, and this is what I was referring to: Everyone processed forward and received an anointing. My small patch of psoriasis on the elbow and my sore feet didn't, to my way of thinking, rise to the standard of being an appropriate candidate for receiving the Sacrament, and my concern is that such group anointings may trivialize what is, after all, a Sacrament, therefore something to be received with sober reflection. I will keep you with your serious health problem in my prayers this week.

[/quote]

Therein lies the problem: everyone receiving. Even if a great number receive, if it is an elderly crowd, you never know what's up with them :) but when everyone in the congregation receives, it's a distortion of the sacrament.


#19

I love it!


#20

[quote="thistle, post:14, topic:291429"]
I don't disagree with you but a line has to be drawn. Breaking a leg, having flu, or things like that do not justify the Anointing of the Sick otherwise anyone with the least little thing could say it might lead to something a lot worse.

[/quote]

Breaking a bone is serious. My SIL needed 5 pins in his leg when he broke his. It still affects him physically years after it happened and it caused him much distress. I certainly think broken bones qualify. As far as the flu I would say it depends. I wouldn't ask for the anointing if I had the flu but if my cousin with an immune disorder got it I would certainly encourage her to get anointed.

I didn't ask for it when I had my laser eye surgery (it was for a painful condition not to see without glasses) but I encouraged my dad to get it for his cataract surgery because of his other conditions.

I think it needs to be carefully monitored. Our priests speak privately to those who come for the public anointing to ask what they have ensuring them that he will keep them in his prayers. We usually only get 3 or 4 people.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.