Anointing of the Sick

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: A question please?

What is the bare minimum in terms of administering the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick when the situation is urgent or time is pressing?

Is it reasonable to lay hands and anoint forehead and upturned palms of  hands saying some appropriate words whilst doing so, such as “may you feeling the hands of the Lord Jesus upon you and receive the healing you need in body, mind and/or spirit”?

Is it correct to suggest that this sacrament is not really intended for the death bed, when someone is palliative, but is conferred in the hope that healing will take place? 

My understanding is that at someone’s death bed he/she ideally receives the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Viaticum and is consoled by prayers for the dying. Anointing the person is also a possibility but optional? Am I correct in thinking this is The Last Rires? 

Do you also confer the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick and Eucharist on family and friends who are present, and want the sacraments, including the Anointing of the Sick, in order to soothe those who are mourning in body, mind and/or spirit.

Thanks for your response which I know will be a specialised one.



A: You anoint people “whose health is seriously impaired by sickness or old age” (Pastoral Care of the Sick 8).

When time is pressing, you still recite the entire formula as in paragraph 124 (76 in the typical edition). Do not substitute other words. You must use the correct formula.

Correct, the sacrament is intended for the sick more than for the dying, but it may be administered to the dying. As death draws near, the person should make a confession and receive viaticum. 

The words “last rites” no longer appear in our liturgical books. There are many rites that may be applied, depending on one’s condition.

You do not anoint people who are in grief. You may give communion to family and friends who are eligible to receive at church.

I published a chart on the various last rites in my book Light in the Darkness.