Obedience to the priest?


I currently asked a priest if the annointing of the sick is particularly for people in danger of death, extremely sick, elderly, or before surgery, why doesnt a priest say that before mass or ask each individual person. The answer i got was dont worry let the priest do his thing. I received the annointing on one occasion not aware of what it was and I was Not SICK or DYING or ELDER or before SURGERY. When a priest told me i was glad he did and now have a greater appreciation for the sacrament. Why dont priest ask or announce it if they are told who the sacrament is reserved for, also if they are going against the teachings of the church why is nothing done about it?
I understand that this is assuming that like me more people go that are not gravely sick or in danger of death or before surgery or elderly.
Its better to let a soul know what the sacrament really is and who it is intended for, than to go against the churches teaching. With a simple question or an announcement before the sacrament is applied shows respect and helps establish the seriousness and importance of the sacrament. Its not a blessing that we can receive once a month.
With all due respect to the church, this is just my opinion…


The Sacrament which has, in the past few decades, been called the Annotating of the Sick was formerly called, in the past few centuries, Extreme Unction. These terms illustrate two very different understandings.

Many modern Catholic theologians feel that the Church has, in the past, been rather “stingy” with Sacramental Grace (and I’m not talking about wackos - I’m talking about guys like Ludwig Ott and Karol Wojtyła).

The Church draws Her understanding of this Sacrament largely from James 5:14:15:

Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.

This Biblical passage mentions only “sickness,” but not any extreme degree or threat. Over time, the Sacrament became restricted to those who could be realistically be viewed as “on their deathbed.” In more recent years, it has been interpreted so liberally that I have heard it routinely administered for seasonal allergies (or, in once case, sadness over the death of a cat). What’s next - a hangnail? A paper-cut?

I think that what you are observing today is the Church’s re balancing between overly restrictive and overly permissive practices. There are still advocates who are solidly in either camp, but the Church is gradually coming to a proper balance. This process can sometimes take decades or centuries - we are in the early days. But these days (with nearly instant communication, such as this Forum) are different days, and time seems to move faster (even Church time).

BUT I EMPHASIZE: If you receive the Sacrament of Unction/Anointing (whatever it is called), you validly receive all of its Graces. Even if your situation was not very “dire,” it does not change anything. Any responsibility for an improperly administered Sacrament rests with the minister (ie, priest or Bishop), not with you.


If your story is true, then the priest was wrong and is action was an abuse of the sacrament. The priest cannot use the sacrament to his own wishes. He knows that for sure. I cannot understand why he would do that. He could have used one of the prayers for the “blessings” in your situation you were in. Anyway, there are many cases of our brother priests who have been abusing the sacraments and the Church has issued an appeal to them by this article Sacramentum Redemptoris to help all the priests and ministers of the Sacraments to uphold the sacredness of all the sacraments.
You can help him to talk about it or inform the Bishop about it as for me this is very important that the sacrament and all the sacraments must be safeguarded accordingly.


We routinely have an administration of this sacrament about once a month in our very large parish. It is offered to the ones mentioned - sick, elderly, those about to undergo surgery,etc., but also to caregivers of same. We go becasue we are elderly, have various health problems, and are caregivers. Why on earth would anyone ignore an oppurtunity to receive God’s Grace. We receive that Grace in many ways, but this particular sacramental Grace helps support us in our living. This is one area where “greediness” (or neediness) is perhaps a virtue.


It is my opinion that this sacrament would also help the mentally sick and no living being can judge the depths of another’s suffering. Can a priest tell anyone, no, you are not going to die today or in the near future?


I agree. I think it’s an abuse of the sacrament. It’s not designed to be used for everyone as a routine blessing. That’s why there are guidelines.


Is it better to use a sacrament that is intended to cleanse a person of their sin and prepare for death. Or to have a person receive not forgiveness of sins but a blessing. And also is the priest doing harm by not stating what the church officially teaches who the sacrament is reserved for. look at the cathecism before you answer please.


The Anointing of the Sick (formerly called Extreme Unction) was given for the “sick unto death” to serve the similar purpose as a healthy person receiving absolution in Confession. It is for Spiritual Healing (and only physical healing secondarily). It is like a medicine for the soul. In some it effects that removal of the guilt of sin immediately, such that physical healing is not requisite. In others, where physical healing is needed to enable the recipient to physically participate in the healing of his soul, there can be physical healing. Physical health is not required to enter the presence of God in Joy, but sometimes it is still a tool God grants to a person to use in bringing themselves to repentance or in aiding others to come to eternal life with Him.

A healthy person can find the same graces in the other sacraments and is lacking nothing if he makes use of the Eucharist and Reconciliation. A sick person cannot go to join with the Church to receive grace, so the minister of the Church goes to him bringing graces for healing the Soul, and accidentally if God deems it necessary for granting eternal life, healing the body also.

John Martin


if you look in the Catechism you will see that there are two types of sacraments - those of initiation and those of healing. Both the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick and the sacrament of Penance (confession) are sacraments of healing. Both are primarily intended to heal.

Forgiveness of sin is important. We all need forgiveness and that is what happens in confession. Anointing of the Sick can better prepare someone who is dying for death. These are important aspects of these sacraments but their primary purpose is to heal the soul. In the case of Pennance, if all we are seeking is forgiveness then we are missing out. Christ wants to heal our souls so that we don’t come back with that same sin again. In the case of Anointing of the Sick, the soul will be healed of the damage which sin has done to it and it will also heal the body should it be required for salvation.

In both sacraments, the soul is healed of of the wounds which sin has inflicted upon it. Healing is the primary purpose of the sacraments of healing. As John Martin stated so well above, they are like medicine for the soul.



Is it possible that members of the parish did not hear (including yourself) that the sacrament was intended for healing of those that are sick in some way? And truly, aren’t we all sick, somehow, even if ‘only’ from sin? Actually, it would be much better to be ‘sick’ from anything BUT sin. Reconciliation can heal our sins; Anointing can heal us physically.


Amen, amen!!

closed #11

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