Eucharist
Part 4 The Eucharist and Other Sacraments

Chapter 46 Eucharist:  Sacrament of Healing

Preliminary Questions

Bibliography

Anointing at Sunday Eucharist

To Think About

Preliminary Questions

Have you ever been anointed?  How did it feel? 

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Bibliography

An extensive list of articles, books, and other resources is given in Chapter s17 Bibliography

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Anointing at Sunday Eucharist

(The following is from the draft of an article I published)

Not all parishes have regularly scheduled Masses during which the sick are anointed, but this practice is becoming more and more common. The Anointing of the Sick (then called Extreme Unction), was usually administered privately in hospitals. Few people saw it administered and often the person receiving it was in no condition to appreciate it fully. The new rite for the Anointing of the Sick is to be 1) celebrated more publicly, 2) more frequently, and 3) celebrated earlier in our illness, before we are in danger of death. It is to be celebrated in a setting in which the sacramental signs given and received can be exchanged in the best way possible.

It is in the parish that these signs of faith can be appreciated most fruitfully. When you are anointed in the parish setting you will be able to feel in a special way the parish's support for you in you illness. The sacrament can more easily serve as an apt remedy for any feelings of alienation and guilt that you may have. And your gift of faith and witness to the Church can be received by a larger number of fellow Christians.

What might the celebration of the sacrament look like in a parish setting?

1. Gathering Rites  The Mass will begin in the ordinary way. There will probably be a special "welcome" for you and for the other sick who will be anointed during the Mass. Also, there might be a special reference to your Baptism--your promise to die with the crucified Christ--because it is our Baptism that gives meaning to all the other sacraments. Then there will be a special prayer of welcome, for example:

Father,
you raised your Son's cross
as the sign of victory and life.
May all who share in his suffering
find in these sacraments
a source of fresh courage and healing. (PCS 136A)

or

God of compassion,
you take every family under your care
and know our physical and spiritual needs.
Transform our weakness by the strength of your grace
and confirm us in your covenant
so that we may grow in faith and love. (PCS 136B)

2. Story Telling  The Scriptures will be read as on other Sundays. Ordinarily the readings will be those of the Sunday for nearly all of the Sunday readings will refer in some way to God's love for you and the gift of Faith and healing we receive in Jesus. On some days, one or more special readings may be chosen from the list given especially for Masses during which the Sick are to be Anointed. In the readings and in the homily which follows them you will hear in a special way how Christ's love for the sick will touch you in a special way at this Eucharist.

The General Intercessions will follow the homily as on other Sundays, or there may be a special litany of intercession for those to be anointed. The parish (and the whole Church) will pray for you and for your healing. You in turn should pray for the needs of the parish and the world. The prayers of the sick have a special value before the throne of God because God hears in the prayers of the suffering the voice of Christ suffering for our redemption. Because your prayers are so effective at this time, be sure to take this occasion to pray for the needs of the Church and the world; pray especially for all the sick and all those who care for the sick: doctors, nurses, counselors, pharmacists, and all who minister to the sick.

3. Anointing  After the intercessions you and the others to be anointed will be called forward. The priest will lay his hands on your head and pray silently that you may be filled with the Holy Spirit. He then turns to the oil and then proclaims the Prayer Over The Oil. (You have read about the meaning of the imposition of hands and the oil in earlier sections of this book.)

It is time for the anointing. You and the others to be anointed will be invited forward and the priest will anoint your forehead and will pray:

Through this holy anointing
may the Lord in his love and mercy help you
with the grace of the Holy Spirit.

Make the prayer your prayer and give your consent by firmly responding "Amen". Then extend your hands toward the priest, palms upward, and he will anoint your hands and say:

May the Lord who frees you from sin
save you and raise you up.

Again respond "Amen". Then, enjoy the oil! Rub your hands together and pray that as the oil penetrates and soothes your skin and your hands, so may the healing of Christ penetrate your body to heal any weakness or affliction.

When all the sick have been anointed, the priest will pray for you in the name of the whole parish by saying (for example):

Father in heaven,
through this holy anointing
grant our brothers and sisters comfort in their suffering.
When they are afraid, give them courage,
when afflicted, give them patience
when dejected, afford them hope,
and when alone, assure them of the support
of your holy people. (PCS 142A)

or

Lord Jesus Christ, our Redeemer
by the grace of your Holy Spirit
cure the weakness of your servants.
Heal their sickness and forgive their sins;
expel all afflictions of mind and body;
mercifully restore them to full health,
and enable them to resume their former duties,
for you are Lord for ever and ever. (PCS 142B)

4. Meal Sharing The Mass will continue in the usual way. The gifts of bread and wine will be brought to the altar and special prayers will be said to unite your sufferings with the sacrifice of Christ in this Eucharist.

Each Eucharistic Prayer begins by giving the motives for our thanksgiving. The Preface for the Masses during which the sick are anointed is a rich source of meditation on the mystery of suffering:

Father, all-powerful and ever-living God,
we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks,
for you have revealed to us
in Christ the healer
your unfailing power and steadfast compassion.
In the splendor of his rising
your Son conquered suffering and death
and bequeathed to us his promise
of a new and glorious world,
where no bodily pain will afflict us
and no anguish of spirit.
Through your gift of the Spirit,
you bless us, even now,
with comfort and healing,
strength and hope,
forgiveness and peace.
In this supreme sacrament of your love
you give us the risen body of your Son:
a pattern of what we shall become
when he returns again at the end of time.
In gladness and joy
we unite with the angels and saints
in the great canticle of creation,
as we say (sing):

Holy, holy, holy, Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest. (PCS 145)

The reception of Holy Communion at this Mass can be a very special moment for you. As you are united with Christ in Holy Communion you have a tangible sign that those who are conformed to the sufferings of Christ will most assuredly be united to the healing strength of his resurrection. After Communion the priest will again pray for you:

Merciful God,
in celebrating these mysteries
your people have received the gifts of unity and peace.
Heal the afflicted
and make them whole
in the name of your only Son,
who lives and reigns for ever and ever. (PCS 146A)

or

Lord,
through these sacraments
you offer us the gift of healing.
May this grace bear fruit among us
and make us strong in your service.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. (PCS 146B)

5. Commissioning  Mass will conclude in the usual way. There may be a special blessing for all the sick. There may be a reception for those who have been anointed and for the parish ministers to the sick and those who visit the sick and take Holy Communion to the homes, hospitals and nursing homes.

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To Think About

Some of the prayers that might be used at the Mass for the Anointing of the Sick have been given here so that you can use these texts to understand the meaning of the sacrament and to prepare yourself to receive it. Meditation on these prayers can be one of the best ways of preparing yourself to celebrate the sacrament in church, at home, or in the hospital.

Go back through this chapter and say each prayer slowly. Say the prayer again, praying especially for yourself; change the words to say "my weakness..." "confirm me..." "so that I may grow in faith..." Then say the prayer again and pray not only for yourself but include all the sick of the world.

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© Copyright: Tom Richstatter, Franciscan Province of St. John the Baptist, Cincinnati Ohio, Order of Friars Minor. All Rights Reserved.  This page was created by Fr. Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M.  Every effort has been, and is being made, to acknowledge sources when the ideas are not my own.  Any failure to comply with the United States Copyright Act (Title 17, United States Code) will be corrected immediately should I become aware of it.  This site was updated on 03/20/15 .  Your comments on this site are welcome at tomrichs@psci.net.