What do the last rites mean?

I think it is when someone is dying.Is this for Catholics only or for everyone?
What does it mean essentially?
Also,what if somone wasn’t religious didn’t attend church or confession etc-what happens in their case then?

yes because they includes sacraments of confession, anointing of the sick, and Eucharist they are only for Catholics. They are not to be delayed until someone is at the point of death but should be asked for and offered as soon as the person or family becomes aware the person is facing a possibly life threatening situation.

In a state of emergency (war time, natural disaster etc.) a priest may absolve eveyrone present.

I’m pretty sure it is called the “Sacrament of the sick” now. It is to be administered while in a state of grace, hopefully. It can be giving to folks that have life threatening illness. To me, it seems like a way to join your sufferings with Christ. I have recieved it once and my wife, and son has received it due to the possibility of sudden death from a heart defect. I wish I knew more about it, but don’t.

Whats the purpose of it please?
And is this the same as the term"death bed conversion" or different?

It is meant to provide a person final absolution of their sins prior to death by partaking in the sacraments one final time. This can also be administered prior to a risky operation, in which the person might die. The people who have the time for this are truly blessed IMO, because they have time while facing death to repent. Many people do not get this opportunity so it is not best to wait until the last minute since you don’t know when your last minute will be.

No, it is not the same thing as ‘death bed conversion’, but the rite would not be denied to anyone asking for it regardless of what they believed throughout the majority of their life.

I do not believe that the rite guarantees salvation, but it does help to die without all those sins weighing on your soul.

There are rubrics within the Rite of the Sacrament that do have Christian Intiation in them. So it is possible that if someone wants to convert to Catholicism with their heart they can actually go through the process in the Rite itself. I have never heard it being done with anyone in my life, but they rubrics are there so I assume that it has been done.

All very true, just adding that this is not something a person receives just once.

My mother, recently deceased, received anointing of the sick 3 times during the last 3 months of her life.

Could you explain that more?

It seems to me that since the rite includes confession, it brings you to a state of grace, rather than has to be administered while in a state of grace.

Catholics have been receiving this sacrament since the beginning of Christianity. It is described in James 5:14-15:

Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven.

“Priest” is the transliteration of presbyter. The translation is elder.

I have received this sacrament several times before surgery. Confession first, followed by the anointing. Beautiful and consoling sacrament which brings peace to souls. Sometimes healings occur. I know of a man healed of blindness.

Catholicism is a God-made religion. God knows what we need for our bodies and souls.

Jim Dandy

P.S. The sacrament can be conferred without Confession. My dying mother received it when she was unable to speak.

Or without Communion. My mother had a feeding tube.

Annointing of the Sick is a special Blessing of the significantly sick or crippled. It has hiostorically been proven to cure at least partially. I’ve refferred a permanently crippled elderly Lady to ask for Annointing of the Sick. It is Biblical, and has Shown to work at least partially. Last Rites is by a Priest for those in Danger of Death. Very remarkeably, Many of us witnessed Sh Wednesday Morning Priest Stop, just before Consecration, changed to 20 Hail Mary’s, as there was Commotion in the back of Church. One Gentleman lost all vital signs: Breathing, Heartbeat, Pulse. The Priest quickly did the Last Rites, as we Continued the Hail Mary, Realizing why. By the time Firemedics arrived, the Gentleman was typically Joking, smiling: “Thanks” to us. He was at Morning Mass next day, Devout and later joking as always: as if nothing had happenned. The Biblical Annointing of thne Sick, All of us knowingly Praying for him, worked, Thank You, Jesus Christ. The Last Rites were in case he died, to absolve sins.

the sacrament of anointing of the sick is one part but not the only part of the “last rites”. If the person is conscious and able to participate they should also have confession and communion. As I said the term last rites is somewhat anachronistic, because it should not be delayed until the point of death, as there is no guarantee a priest will be available.

If the person is unable to confess the anointing also absolves sin.

a “death bed conversion” would be a non-Catholic who requests baptism and confirmation when he is at the point of death because he wants to die as a member of the Church.

The sacrament is only colloquially referred to as “Last Rights”. The proper term is “Extreme Unction” or “Anointing of the Sick”.

The Catechism explains it well

1499 “By the sacred anointing of the sick and the prayer of the priests the whole Church commends those who are ill to the suffering and glorified Lord, that he may raise them up and save them. And indeed she exhorts them to contribute to the good of the People of God by freely uniting themselves to the Passion and death of Christ.”

Through the biblical record of anointing the sick to heal physically and spiritually, we know that we have received this sacrament through Christ.

Its purpose is to bring about that healing which we require: either physical (i.e. cancer, illness, etc.) or spiritual (sin, sinful proclivities, etc) so that we may be more properly oriented toward Christ.

It may be administered to non-catholics if there is a reasonable assumption that they desired to be Catholic, and if the rest of the sacraments are administered as well. A wonderful man in my parish had a heart attack during RCIA and received first communion, confirmation, and extreme unction on the same day.

Also typically received at “last rights” is the viaticum (“bread for the journey”, or more properly something prepared to be taken along on the journey) so you may receive Christ sacramentally on earth before meeting Him in heaven and be filled with Christ during your journey to meet Him.

Annointing of the Sick and “Last Rites” are not the same. I’ve Witnessed both at Church. Annointing of the Sick is to help Heal a serious health condition like a cripple with walker person. “Last Rites”, formerly known as Extreme Unction is specifically for the dying or serious danger of dying. It can be administered to one who has recently ‘died’, because only God knows when the Soul leaves the body. there have been a few widelly publicized cases of people burried, but later ‘reburial;’ showed signs of the person trying to claw out, etc.

Here is the Catechism reference for this particular issue:

A sacrament of the sick

1511 The Church believes and confesses that among the seven sacraments there is one especially intended to strengthen those who are being tried by illness, the Anointing of the Sick:

This sacred anointing of the sick was instituted by Christ our Lord as a true and proper sacrament of the New Testament. It is alluded to indeed by Mark, but is recommended to the faithful and promulgated by James the apostle and brother of the Lord.125 

1512 From ancient times in the liturgical traditions of both East and West, we have testimonies to the practice of anointings of the sick with blessed oil. Over the centuries the Anointing of the Sick was conferred more and more exclusively on those at the point of death. Because of this it received the name “Extreme Unction.” Notwithstanding this evolution the liturgy has never failed to beg the Lord that the sick person may recover his health if it would be conducive to his salvation.126

1513 The Apostolic Constitution Sacram unctionem infirmorum,127 following upon the Second Vatican Council,128 established that henceforth, in the Roman Rite, the following be observed:

The sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is given to those who are seriously ill by anointing them on the forehead and hands with duly blessed oil - pressed from olives or from other plants - saying, only once: "Through this holy anointing may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit. May the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up."129 


In case of grave illness . . .

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

1515 If a sick person who received this anointing recovers his health, he can in the case of another grave illness receive this sacrament again. If during the same illness the person’s condition becomes more serious, the sacrament may be repeated. It is fitting to receive the Anointing of the Sick just prior to a serious operation. The same holds for the elderly whose frailty becomes more pronounced.

Just FYI.

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