Fr. Schuessler Letter 1-15-23

Dear Friends,

I would like to share something about what I think is a  misunderstood sacrament: “The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.” Way back when it was called, “ Extreme Unction.” It is often incorrectly called “Last Rites,” although in some circumstances it may be. As you can read below, it is a  sacrament for people who have been diagnosed with a serious life-threatening illness, people with serious chronic illness, and people who are seriously suffering from the effects of old age. As the instruction states, you should not wait until the last minute to request the sacrament. Realistically, especially in our present situation, you may not get a priest at the last minute, and in some cases, not for a while. Again, best to call during office hours. (I hope not too direct to say that as the number of priests declines, the sad reality is that in a possible emergency, calling a parish is not like calling 911.)

“In the Church’s Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, through the ministry of the priest, it is Jesus who touches the sick to heal them from sin – and sometimes even from physical ailment. His cures were signs of the arrival of the Kingdom of God. The core message of his healing tells us of his plan to conquer sin and death by his dying and rising.

The Rite of Anointing tells us there is no need to wait until a person is at the point of death to receive the Sacrament. A careful judgment about the serious nature of the illness is sufficient.

When the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is given, the hoped-for effect is that, if it be God’s will, the person be physically healed of illness. But even if there is no physical healing, the primary effect of the Sacrament is a spiritual healing by which the sick person receives the Holy Spirit’s gift of peace and courage to deal with the difficulties that  accompany serious illness or the frailty of old age.”

~From the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults

More next week about how to accompany and pray with the sick and dying.

Have a blessed week. Please pray for priests. Please pray for vocations.

Fr. Schuessler

Published by St. James, Belvidere

Saint James Catholic Church, Belvidere, IL