Can people with Dementia,intellectually impaired etc receive sacrament of the sick?


#1

I’m referring to people who are highly disabled and don’t know what Jesus means,what sin means,can’t understand what the Father is saying,act odd/confused/laugh to themselves or other things from illness.
I’m not referring to people where there’s some suggestion that they might understand what’s going in a little but even if their non verbal.
So the real severe ones,can they get this sacrament to bring God and hope into their lives or will it “not work” if they can’t cognitively grasp what spiritual means and what is happening to them and around them.
It seems like cognition is needed to understand about Jesus,however these people have lost their cognition.
So if cognition is the gatekeeper to the soul,can these people be saved if they’ve lost their cognition/comprehension/decision making capacities etc?


#2

I date from the time this Sacrament was called Extreme Unction, and it was considered as the Last Rites, administered by a Priest to those in danger of death or who were actually dying.
I was taught by the Jesuits in Parochial School, long ago, that this Sacrament could and often was administered to those who were comotose (i.e. in a coma) and it was still effective on the recipient's Soul. I do not think anything about this has changed in the intervening years.
If that be the case, then the Sacrament would also be effect upon the Souls of those who are in a state of dementia or were otherwise in a non-cognative mental state.


#3

Of course they can!


#4

Yes, it can be effective and is administered all the time in nursing homes to those in confused or non-responsive states.

One caution, if someone is confused, and becomes afraid with new or unfamiliar people, sometimes it creates fear instead of peace. In those cases it might be best to hold off with the actual visit and pray for the person instead.


#5

The Short answer is absolutely YES…In fact my wife who is late stage Alzheimer’s dementia just recently received the Sacrament of the Sick. In fact this is the second time she has received it…the first time publicly at church and this time privately at home.

So the real severe ones,can they get this sacrament to bring God and hope into their lives or will it “not work” if they can’t cognitively grasp what spiritual means and what is happening to them and around them.
It seems like cognition is needed to understand about Jesus,however these people have lost their cognition.
So if cognition is the gatekeeper to the soul,can these people be saved if they’ve lost their cognition/comprehension/decision making capacities etc?

Sacraments do not work on the level of cognition…they instill graces. The Sacrament of the sick also forgives sin and fortifies one in their suffering. Cognition, or the lack of cognition might effect how one acts on or displays the grace received…but it does not negate the fact of the grace being received.

Peace
James


#6

But without cognition I don’t understand how they receive the grace.
For example,if the grace was meant to give then fortitude to cope with the illness,this coping is a cognitive thing that needs to involve a basic level of awareness.

I hope that sort of made sense.
I sort of can’t understand where the cognition and soul joins.
Also,if they were baptised but not in state of grace,and have now no awareness/understanding of sin what happens then?


#7

Also what if their not a Christian or had no interest in God or sin before they became like this.Does this then mean their chance is gone and they don’t go to heaven?
This would seen unfair cause most have a chance/freewill for all their lives but their ability of choice was cut off early.

It just seems to me that cognition/understanding meaning is necessary for everything.eg even to say the prayer Our Father you have to be able to conceptualise and therfor understand the meaning or you would just be saying empty words like speaking Japanese.
So to me it sort of seems that cognition/mind is necessary for effect in soul and I think.the catechism says that the soul is contained by all the body or the other way around.
I don’t really get it.

Also,how can they fulfill “love thy neighbour” if they arnt mentally therr- to speak.


#8

Are things like Dementia and the approx 15% of incurable mental illnesses soul illnesses too or is that incorrect?
Obviously,it’s scientific with deposits of proteins,brain shrinkage etc but I mean spiritually is there something there too or is it just random bad luck?


#9

When a mother holds an infant with all the Love she has, does the infant need cognition to “receive” that love?
When the mother feeds her infant does the infant need cognition to “receive” and utilize the nourishment?
If someone turns a hose on you and sprays you with water on a hot summer’s day, do you need cognition to “receive” the water and have it cool you down?
God does not need our cognition in order to instill His grace. He can just “turn it on”…He can just “hold us” in His Love.

For example,if the grace was meant to give then fortitude to cope with the illness,this coping is a cognitive thing that needs to involve a basic level of awareness.

Certainly this is true to an extent. The ability of a person to fully utilize the grace…the ability of the person to display that grace to others can be impaired. Yet as illustrated above…cognition is not necessary to receive God’s forgiveness and His grace.
Plus - and here I speak as a full time caregiver - it can be difficult to know how much cognition might be left. Just because my lady cannot walk or speak, her eyes and her smile show me that there is still some spark there…Is this “cognition” or just familiarity with my face and voice? I don’t know. But God does and He has blessed her - and through her, He has blessed me.

I hope that sort of made sense.

I hope my responses make sense.

I sort of can’t understand where the cognition and soul joins.

Indeed - I think that this is an interesting question - but quite out of my depth…:shrug:
It might make a good thread in the philosophy forum.

Also,if they were baptized but not in state of grace,and have now no awareness/understanding of sin what happens then?

We do all that we can for them - including the sacrament of the sick - and then we leave them to the infinite mercy of God.

Peace
James


#10

The answer here is a resounding NO…The health of the brain has no effect on the health of the soul.

Peace
James


#11

Consider…If a person “has no interest in God or sin” before they are run over by a bus at age 25, would you say that their eternal destination is unfair because their chance is “cut off early”?

Peace
James


#12

#13

Thanks.Someone (non Catholic but Evangelical Christian) told me that she got “set free” of mental illness by Jesus and that demons work through causing scientific illnesses and that then got me questioning about the physical/soul connection and what and where exactly the soul is.


#14

That’s true.
But at same time,isn’t it unfair because someone else got 80/90 years to live and choose?
It does seem to me unfair that some people could be agnostic,be a very caring and charitable person and get things like Dementia and have very hard time on earth and then still “go to hell” wheras others might have such great long life on earth,live it up on boats,fancy parties and treat people horribly and then end up with the same destination.

It might not be a very good thought but I’m just being honest.


#15

Fair or not…it is what it is

It does seem to me unfair that some people could be agnostic,be a very caring and charitable person and get things like Dementia and have very hard time on earth and then still “go to hell” wheras others might have such great long life on earth,live it up on boats,fancy parties and treat people horribly and then end up with the same destination.

It might not be a very good thought but I’m just being honest.

These kinds of thoughts have been pondered and discussed for many centuries.
In the end all we can do is to trust in God’s mercy and justice - and while we are here do our best to show Christ to the world through our Love for our fellow man.

But - as I said earlier…If you want to get a wider input on these issues, I suggest a new thread in the apologetic section maybe in philosophy or moral theology.

Peace
James


#16

I think you a lot to learn about faith, even Catholic faith and academic discussion isn’t going to help you grasp it. God is amazing and He can see and understand what we don’t. God won’t send anyone to Hell through austism or demintia or alzeimers or any other cognitive issues that means they are unable to say to others they know who God is. God will know that as do good Catholic Priests and everyone will have a chance with God and not go to Heaven due to unable to communicate.

Though as a side step for Catholics… Say a Catholic person has been in your eyes ‘have done evil things’ through their live then as they start to reach 65/70 start with the signs of Demintia etc… would you still hope they be going to heaven or hell?

For me personally there isn’t any hell as you guys think. Hell is a state of being as of Heaven and Heaven is on Earth as of Hell and I have my own days of Hell on earth. But in reality for me, no one will go to hell as we all go to Heaven because God loves us all so much and will give us every chance, even after we die we are given chances of heaven and God is a compansionate understanding God and so whatever people want to believe about Heaven and Hell, I believe no one is in Hell because am sure it just a tool to get us to do good on Earth and God is understanding and lets us all go to Heaven but that is my own view a very personal view and I know it mayn’t be popular among not just Catholics but Christians but that the way I see it.


#17

One of the effects of the sacrament of the sick (Anointing of the Sick) is

the forgiveness of sins

AND the sacrament can be given to those who are unconscious and unable to confess themselves.


#18

Reflect on Matthew 20:1-16. The labourers in the vineyard.


#19

I agree with both the foregoing. These people are sick and they need the help of the Sacrament.


#20

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