Ministry to the Sick
Part 2 History

Chapter s29 Vatican II [1960-1975 CE]

Secular History

Church History

Constitution on the Liturgy and Ministry to the Sick and Dying

Secular History

1.  John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States who served from 1961 until his assassination in 1963.  Lyndon B. Johnson, who became the 36th President of the United States following John F. Kennedy's assassination.  Martin Luther King Jr.  Malcolm X.   Hippies.   Viet Nam Conflict 1959 to April 30, 1975.  Richard Nixon, president 1969 - 1974.

2.  Advances in medicine and the "human sciences."  Studies on the interconnectedness of "mind, body, and spirit."  Psychomatic illnesses.  Addictions.  PTSD. 

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Church History

1962 October 11 The solemn opening of the Second Vatican Council

1963 June 3 Death of Pope John XXIII.

1963 June 21 Cardinal Montini is elected Pope Paul VI.

1963 December 4  Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy ("Sacrosanctum Concilium")

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The Constitution on the Liturgy and Ministry to the Sick

1963 Dec 04 Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy  (Sacrosanctum Concilium)   The Second Vatican Council treated the Sacrament of Anointing the Sick in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy ("Sacrosanctum Concilium"), CHAPTER III  - THE OTHER SACRAMENTS AND THE SACRAMENTALS.

Two Important Praenotanda

Note 1.  General Principles   Articles 73, 74, & 75 are to be read in the context of the entire document, especially the General Principles laid down in Chapter 1 of the Constitution.    For example: 

7.  ... Christ is always present in His Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations.  ...  By His power He is present in the sacraments, so that when a man baptizes it is really Christ Himself who baptizes [21]. He is present in His word, since it is He Himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in the Church. He is present, lastly, when the Church prays and sings, for He promised: "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matt. 18:20) .

11. Pastors of souls must therefore realize that, when the liturgy is celebrated, more is required than the mere observation of the laws governing valid and licit celebration; it is their duty also to ensure that the faithful take part fully aware of what they are doing, actively engaged in the rite, and enriched by its effects.

14. Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that fully conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy.

24. Sacred scripture is of the greatest importance in the celebration of the liturgy.

26. Liturgical services are not private functions, but are celebrations of the Church ...  Therefore liturgical services pertain to the whole body of the Church ... 

27. It is to be stressed that whenever rites, according to their specific nature, make provision for communal celebration involving the presence and active participation of the faithful, this way of celebrating them is to be preferred, so far as possible, to a celebration that is individual and quasi-private.

30. To promote active participation, the people should be encouraged to take part by means of acclamations, responses, psalmody, antiphons, and songs, as well as by actions, gestures, and bodily attitudes. And at the proper times all should observe a reverent silence.

33. Although the sacred liturgy is above all things the worship of the divine Majesty, it likewise contains much instruction for the faithful.

34. The rites should be distinguished by a noble simplicity; they should be short, clear, and unencumbered by useless repetitions; they should be within the people's powers of comprehension, and normally should not require much explanation.

59. The purpose of the sacraments is to sanctify men, to build up the body of Christ, and, finally, to give worship to God; because they are signs they also instruct. They not only presuppose faith, but by words and objects they also nourish, strengthen, and express it; that is why they are called "sacraments of faith." They do indeed impart grace, but, in addition, the very act of celebrating them most effectively disposes the faithful to receive this grace in a fruitful manner, to worship God duly, and to practice charity.

It is therefore of the highest importance that the faithful should easily understand the sacramental signs, and should frequent with great eagerness those sacraments which were instituted to nourish the Christian life.

Note 2.  Under the Iceberg  Note that the Constitution presupposes an integrated view of the sacraments (metaphor of the ripples in the pond rather than the seven shoe boxes): 

Chapter 1.  General Principles
Chapter 2.  Most Sacred Mystery of the Eucharist
Chapter 3.  The Other Sacraments and Sacramentals


72. The rite and formulas for the sacrament of penance are to be revised so that they more clearly express both the nature and effect of the sacrament.

73. "Extreme unction," which may also and more fittingly be called "anointing of the sick," is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death. Hence, as soon as any one 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.

74. In addition to the separate rites for anointing of the sick and for viaticum, a continuous rite shall be prepared according to which the sick man is anointed after he has made his confession and before he receives viaticum.

75. The number of the anointings is to be adapted to the occasion, and the prayers which belong to the rite of anointing are to be revised so as to correspond with the varying conditions of the sick who receive the sacrament.

At the time of the Council not all of the bishops had similar understandings of Extreme Unction (both the top and bottom of the iceberg).  Some Council Fathers were aware of the developments in liturgy and the human sciences; many believed that Extreme Unction, by a priest, forgiving sins, at the hour of death, was instituted by Christ.

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Copyright: Tom Richstatter.  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 03/12/15.  Your comments on this site are welcome at