Last rites without confession and anointing?

This is more of a warning to everyone.

Last week, we received word that a friend of the family was dying (cancer of the esophagus) and that his time was close because the local parish priest had gone to give him last rites.

My BIL, who is a priest, is visiting this week, and he offered to visit the dying man (their family and his family have known each other for years). So he arrived at their house, just for a pastoral visit, without a stole, missal or anointing oils, since we were told he had already received last rites.

The man was lucid enough to recognize my BIL and my husband (who accompanied him) and my BIL asked the man’s wife about his last rites. She said Father “Joe” had come and given him an apostolic blessing, but no anointing and no confession, saying “it wasn’t necessary”!

My BIL gently told her he did not agree that confession was “not necessary” and offered to hear her husband’s confession. The man agreed and he was able to receive absolution and my BIL offered to get hold of chrism so he could come back and anoint him. He then prayed the rosary with the family and gave the man a blessing. The family seemed very much at peace after that, and even asked my BIL that, if he was still here when the man passed, if HE would offer the funeral Mass.

We are awaiting word on this man’s condition (his youngest daughter told my BIL last night that they didn’t think he was going to hold out until he got there) at any minute. I just want to encourage you that should you find yourselves or a loved one in their final hours, please INSIST on confession and anointing while you still can! Don’t let the priest tell you it isn’t necessary! It’s his job to prepare you for your final journey, to help your soul be ready.

I thank God that my BIL was able to get there in time and I pray that all priests take their duty to the dying as seriously as he does.

The gentleman in question passed away this morning while we were at Mass. My BIL had planned on going to ask the parish priest for the anointing oil and then go up to visit after Mass. My BIL stopped at his mom’s house long enough to pick up his stole and missal and found a message on the answering machine that the man was sinking fast and when he called to tell them he was on his way (it’s about a 30-minute drive), he was told he had just died. My BIL is quite upset that he didn’t get there in time, but very glad that he was able to hear the man’s confession last night, which was the most important. He will be offering the man’s funeral Mass this week.

Please keep the gentleman, his family and my BIL, as well as all priests and those people who minister to the needs of the sick and dying in your prayers.

Kudos to your BIL for sticking to business!!

praying for the respose of his soul

thanks for your story, which also brings up another good point, the family should not wait until the last minute to call the priest for the sacrament of anointing, confession and communion, but as soon as it become obvious the patient is gravely ill.

Exactly, and that’s what’s so upsetting. They HAD called the parish priest last Sunday because they thought he was on the verge of death and the priest did NOT hear his confession nor anoint him, because he said “it was not necessary” and only gave him a blessing. I truly believe that God’s mercy enabled this man to hang on until my brother-in-law was able to visit and hear his confession.

I also heard this disturbing fact about when my father-in-law became gravely ill. At the hospital, they called the chaplain, but he did not anoint my FIL… he just blessed him. When my sister-in-law questioned that the priest did not use any oil, the priest explained it was an “emergency anointing”… whatever that is. There again, my father-in-law held on for three more days (although the doctors gave him merely hours to live) until his son was able to be with him for his last rites, anointing, confession, viaticum… and my BIL had to fly in from Spain to be with his father at the end.

I’ve already told my husband and son that when my time comes not to settle for a blessing for me… when you call a priest, insist he bring everything he needs for my anointing and hearing my confession. I have a right to my last rites and I know better than anyone else whether it’s necessary or not for me! And it is!

IT’s not last Rites if it not the celebration of the three Sacraments. That is not to say that the Apostolic Blessing was not valid. When necessary the priest can hear a confession without a stole. He can even Bless any vegetable (Olive if available) oil on the spot when necessary for Anointing of the Sick. By the way the oil used is not Sacred Chrism, but Oil of the Infirm.

A person is not necessarly Anointed every time a priest visits. If he had been Anointed in the last 30-90 days it’s possible that is why the priest did not feel it was necessary at that time.

Thanks for the clarification, Bro.

What bothered us all the most was this seemingly cavalier attitude on the part of the parish priest about confession and anointing not being “necessary”. It’s what bothered my brother-in-law the most and what prompted him to offer the dying man a chance to confess and receive absolution. After all, while one is alive and conscious, one is capable of sinning and I would think any person who was aware of his condition would want the opportunity to set his soul right with God.

No one ever said that the parish priest had ever anointed the man before. We were told that the priest had been called to give him “last rites” (maybe those who passed the word along just assumed that the priest would be administering last rites if the person he was visiting was on the verge of death–or else they aren’t sure what the rites actually are.) And while the proper vestments and oil might not be necessary, why would a priest go on a sick call or to visit a dying parishioner without them? That’s what my brother-in-law can’t understand.

Anyway, I hope others who read this learn that they shouldn’t wait (as puzzleannie noted) till the absolute last second to call a priest for a dying relative or friend and that they shouldn’t just assume that confession and anointing are part of the visit. Ask for them… and insist that they ARE necessary!

Thanks for the prayers!

if the gentleman had already been anointed for this episode of illness, no it was not absolutely necessary to do it again, or to hear his confession unless he asked for it. if he did ask, it should of course never be denied. the term “last rites” does not really describe this sacrament adequately and leads to confusion, so better to say what we mean, as OP has been careful to do. Lucky man to have such a concerned family to speak up for him.

Hope it is not too off topic to add the suggestion for adult children that they should not “assume” what grandma or grandpa would want, and should make every effort to get the priest there in a timely fashion. Even someone who has to outward appearances not been practicing the faith for sometime will probably have a deep need and desire to have the sacraments at this time, and the family should make this possible.

Thanks for this thread. I don’t think enough people realize the importance of calling a priest when someone is in danger of death (or facing serious surgery).

A few months ago my sister and I took my mother to the ER, and she needed emergency surgery. With my mother’s permission, I asked the staff at the nurses’ station to call a priest in prior to surgery, which they were glad to do. The (Catholic) nurse who was caring for my mother said she was glad to see a Catholic priest, that she almost never saw them come into the ER! I think it’s a shame that more people don’t take advantage of the sacraments at times of illness.

In fact, our priest just told us this recently. That we should call earlier rather than later. Praying for the man in the OP.

The sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is not only for the dying, but yes, it is most commonly administered to those in danger of death.

The “last rites” may include the sacraments of Reconciliation, Confirmation, Anointing of the Sick, and Viaticum (“provisions for the journey” – which is the Eucharist). But if a person is unconscious, the only sacrament administered may be the Anointing of the Sick. Or he/she may physically be unable to receive the Eucharist, but receive the other rites.

Parish bulletins should occasionally explain the sacrament to the faithful, and give the appropriate contact numbers (emergency #, or parish office #, if not an emergency).

Praying for the repose of his soul. :signofcross:

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