The old name for this sacrament was ‘extreme unction’. It was generally administered only at the point of death.
Since the reforms of Vatican11 it is now seen as a sacrament for the sick and is intended for healing.
It offers God’s healing to those with serious physical illness, the elderly and frail, and those in need of inner healing.
The Sacrament may be repeated if the sick person recovers after the anointing but becomes ill once again,or if,
during the same illness, the person’s condition becomes more serious. A person should be anointed before surgery
when a dangerous illness is the reason for the intervention.
(From the Catechism of the Catholic Church)
The celebration of the Anointing of the Sick consists essentially in the anointing of the forehead and hands of the sick person (in the Roman Rite) or of other parts of the body (in the Eastern rite), the anointing being accompanied by the liturgical prayer of the celebrant asking for the special grace of this sacrament.
The special grace of the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick has as its effects:
- the uniting of the sick person to the passion of Christ, for his own good and that of the whole Church;
- the strengthening, peace, and courage to endure in a Christian manner the sufferings of illness or old age;
- the forgiveness of sins, if the sick person was not able to obtain it through the sacrament of Penance;
- the restoration of health, if it is conducive to the salvation of his soul;the preparation for passing over to eternal life.