Does Sacrament of Annointing of the Sick bestow absolution to non-responsive recipients?


#1

I have heard that this sacrament will confer absolution of sins to individuals who are non-responsive - those in a coma, with altheimers, dementia, etc. I'm trying to understand the theology behind this. It seems to be conterintuitive to the the sacrament of penance where the recitation of sins is required. Take for example a Christian who led a immoral life and ends up in a coma. Without that individual's knowledge, he then is granted absolution of all sins through this sacrament. Is justice served in such situation?


#2

I’m not a theologian or canon lawyer, Blaskoman, so this is just my two cents.

When I consider that all over the world, people pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy for the dying, whether in convents or privately, and many others pray the Hail Mary – “pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death” . . .

. . . then through the Mystical Body of Christ, these prayers, along with the sacrament of the sick, will very often be instrumental in obtaining their full repentence, and trust in God’s mercy. Otherwise, why would Our Lord instruct us to pray the Chaplet for them?

I had a personal experience of this when my husband died. We had gone together to Harbor Freight (a man’s tool heaven, LOL) and I remained in the car waiting for him to return. Suddenly, I had an overpowering desire to pray the Chaplet for him, and I did so with intense fervor and concentration. Little did I realize that he was to die within 4 hours of that prayer, unexpectedly, and without the sacraments. Later, after much prayer, I received what I believe is God’s assurance that he attained salvation.

We just never know. So trust in the sacrament, but also in the prayers of the faithful who intercede.

You may find this entry of St. Faustina’s enlightening.
**1698 **l often attend upon the dying and through entreaties obtain for them trust in God’s mercy, and I implore God for an abundance of divine grace, which is always victorious.
God’s mercy sometimes touches the sinner at the last moment in a wondrous and mysterious way. Outwardly, it seems as if everything were lost, but it is not so. The soul, illumined by a ray of God’s powerful final grace, turns to God in the last moment with such a power of love that, in an instant, it receives from God forgiveness of sin and punishment, while outwardly it shows no sign either of repentance or of contrition, because souls [at that stage] no longer react to external things.

Oh, how beyond comprehension is God’s mercy! But horror! There are also souls who voluntarily and consciously reject and scorn this grace! Although a person is at the point of death, the merciful God gives the soul that interior vivid moment, so that if the soul is willing, it has the possibility of returning to God. But sometimes, the obduracy in souls is so great that consciously they choose hell; they [thus] make useless all the prayers that other souls offer to God for them and even the efforts of God Himself…


#3

An excellent question! We’re all sinners, but few of us have the chance to make a confession before we die, and even though we do the best we can, sometimes temptation is too much.

I am very curious to read the responses to this. I think it’s a fairly original topic! :thumbsup:


#4

[quote="blaskoman, post:1, topic:302557"]
I have heard that this sacrament will confer absolution of sins to individuals who are non-responsive - those in a coma, with altheimers, dementia, etc. I'm trying to understand the theology behind this. It seems to be conterintuitive to the the sacrament of penance where the recitation of sins is required. Take for example a Christian who led a immoral life and ends up in a coma. Without that individual's knowledge, he then is granted absolution of all sins through this sacrament. Is justice served in such situation?

[/quote]

Well, since it is God who gave us this Sacrament, I would not doubt that justice is served...after all, no matter what we think, "His thoughts are not our thoughts" (Is 55:8) and "the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom" (1 Cor 1:25).

It is also my understanding that the Sacrament does not just wipe away mortal sins...this article states:

The Catechism of Trent seems to say no (by this Sacrament is imparted grace that remits sins, and especially lighter, or as they are commonly called, venial sins; for mortal sins are removed by the Sacrament of Penance.)

the Catechism of St. Pius X says yes (It remits venial sins, and also mortal sins which the sick person, if contrite, is unable to confess)

The conclusion of the author is:

if a person incapable of confessing his mortal sins is anointed, his mortal sins are in that anointing forgiven. However, on recovery he must make a confession of sins when possible. In that respect it is similar to General Absolution. ...] So… in short, the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick can forgive mortal sins in certain circumstances. It is, however, a sacrament to be received, unless impeded, in the state of grace, and only a priest can give it.

One thing appears obvious to me: it appears to be God's will that nobody can be forced to be saved, so us creatures certainly cannot force salvation through any means...because as far as I have ever been taught, God does not send people to hell, it is people who chose to reject God and end in this state of eternal separation from him, by their free choice...


#5

God loves all of us so yes Justice would be served in this situation as God would see that they rest in peace amen :)


#6

Thank you for your post Sirach, that's great info :)

To the OP: I would suggest that you remember that God's justice is beyond our comprehension. Is it "just" according to human standards that Christ would die an innocent victim to save us from our sins? Remember that no act of our own justifies our salvation. It comes off as somewhat presumptuous to wonder if "justice is served" if the soul you are asking about is saved, since God's mercy and justice are simply beyond our human capacity to understand. I'm sure you didn't mean it to have that tone, but just thought I'd put in that two cents.

Also, food for thought: infant baptism does not involve an act of the will, but it still conveys saving grace onto that infant.


#7

In the Roman Rite, absolution from sin is built into the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. Absolution is from all sin. However, one must understand that if the person is in a coma and does not request the sacrament, any absolution is conditional. It depends on what the person would have asked for if he were able to ask. Only God knows this part.

This is the same concept as the old example of the priest in an airplane about to crash. He can grant a general absolution. Who is and who is not absolved depends on certain subjective dispositions that only God knows.

The issue of justice is none of our business. Our business is to get the sacrament to the person. God takes care of the rest on his terms, not our terms.

Let's not get caught up on the justice issue, because we can do great harm rather than good.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, FFV :)


#8

R_C exactly right in the quote: "the Catechism of St. Pius X says yes (It remits venial sins, and also mortal sins which the sick person, if contrite, is unable to confess)".

The Anointing of the Sick is a sacrament of the living, so the administration of it also administers the Sacrament of Penance first, when properly disposed but incapable of confessing then. See Baltimore Catechism No. 3:

Q. 597. What do we mean by Sacraments of the dead and Sacraments of the living?
A. By the Sacraments of the dead we mean those Sacraments that may be lawfully received while the soul is in a state of mortal sin. By the Sacraments of the living we mean those Sacraments that can be lawfully received only while the soul is in a state of grace -- i.e., free from mortal sin. Living and dead do not refer here to the persons, but to the condition of the souls; for none of the Sacraments can be given to a dead person.

Q. 598. Why are Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Extreme Unction, Holy Orders, and Matrimony called Sacraments of the living?
A. Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Extreme Unction, Holy Orders, and Matrimony are called Sacraments of the living because those who receive them worthily are already living the life of grace.

Q. 599. What sin does he commit who receives the Sacraments of the living in mortal sin?
A. He who receives the Sacraments of the living in mortal sin commits a sacrilege, which is a great sin, because it is an abuse of a sacred thing.

Q. 970. Will Extreme Unction take away mortal sin if the dying person is no longer able to confess?
A. Extreme Unction will take away mortal sin if the dying person is no longer able to confess, provided he has the sorrow for his sins that would be necessary for the worthy reception of the Sacrament of Penance.


#9

[quote="Vico, post:8, topic:302557"]
R_C exactly right in the quote: "the Catechism of St. Pius X says yes (It remits venial sins, and also mortal sins which the sick person, if contrite, is unable to confess)".

The Anointing of the Sick is a sacrament of the living, so the administration of it also administers the Sacrament of Penance first, when properly disposed but incapable of confessing then. See Baltimore Catechism No. 3:

Q. 597. What do we mean by Sacraments of the dead and Sacraments of the living?
A. By the Sacraments of the dead we mean those Sacraments that may be lawfully received while the soul is in a state of mortal sin. By the Sacraments of the living we mean those Sacraments that can be lawfully received only while the soul is in a state of grace -- i.e., free from mortal sin. Living and dead do not refer here to the persons, but to the condition of the souls; for none of the Sacraments can be given to a dead person.

Q. 598. Why are Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Extreme Unction, Holy Orders, and Matrimony called Sacraments of the living?
A. Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Extreme Unction, Holy Orders, and Matrimony are called Sacraments of the living because those who receive them worthily are already living the life of grace.

Q. 599. What sin does he commit who receives the Sacraments of the living in mortal sin?
A. He who receives the Sacraments of the living in mortal sin commits a sacrilege, which is a great sin, because it is an abuse of a sacred thing.

Q. 970. Will Extreme Unction take away mortal sin if the dying person is no longer able to confess?
A. Extreme Unction will take away mortal sin if the dying person is no longer able to confess, provided he has the sorrow for his sins that would be necessary for the worthy reception of the Sacrament of Penance.

[/quote]

Also, don't forget that the CCC trumps the Catechism of St. Pius X. The CCC says that it was a decision of Vatican II to include absolution in the rite of Anointing of the Sick. The conditions laid out by St. Pius X remain in place. The only addition that the CCC makes is that it states that one should not wait until a person is in a coma to call for the Sacrament of the Sick. That was the reason for changing the name, to convey that the sacrament could be received when the person is seriously ill, not just at death's door.

The only change that the Latin Church has made is that even if the person is lucid, the Sacrament still absolves even if the person does not go to confession, as long as there is contrition. Contrition is always the key, even for non-Catholics.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, FFV :)


#10

[quote="JReducation, post:9, topic:302557"]
Also, don't forget that the CCC trumps the Catechism of St. Pius X. The CCC says that it was a decision of Vatican II to include absolution in the rite of Anointing of the Sick. The conditions laid out by St. Pius X remain in place. The only addition that the CCC makes is that it states that one should not wait until a person is in a coma to call for the Sacrament of the Sick. That was the reason for changing the name, to convey that the sacrament could be received when the person is seriously ill, not just at death's door.

The only change that the Latin Church has made is that even if the person is lucid, the Sacrament still absolves even if the person does not go to confession, as long as there is contrition. Contrition is always the key, even for non-Catholics.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, FFV :)

[/quote]

But no trump is needed, since the essentials of the sacrament regarding state of sin did not change.

The Second Vatican Council adds the following: "'Extreme Unction,' which may also and more fittingly be called 'Anointing of the Sick,' is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death. Hence, as soon as any one of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the appropriate time for him to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived."(10)

SACRAM UNCTIONE INFIRMORUM

  1. "Extreme unction," which may also and more fittingly be called "anointing of the sick," is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death. Hence, as soon as any one 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.

  2. In addition to the separate rites for anointing of the sick and for viaticum, a continuous rite shall be prepared according to which the sick man is anointed after he has made his confession and before he receives viaticum.

  3. The number of the anointings is to be adapted to the occasion, and the prayers which belong to the rite of anointing are to be revised so as to correspond with the varying conditions of the sick who receive the sacrament.

SACROSANCTUM CONCILIUM


#11

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