Ministry to the Sick
Part 2 History

Chapter s30 The Time After Vatican II
[1975-2050 CE]

Secular History

Church History

Extreme Unction and Anointing of the Sick

 

The Reform of the Reform

Reflections

Secular History

John L. Allen in The Future Church, writes that ministry to the sick, dying, and bereaved will become increasingly important in the years to come: 

"In the United States, the Catholic Church will have 6.8 million additional members over the age of 65 by 2030, by far the most substantial expansion of any subgroup in the Church. Inevitably, these trends mean that the Church will be pressed to invest an increasing share of its resources in ministry to the elderly.  Ministries that will expand rapidly include:

-Chaplains in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and hospitals;
-Ministry to shut-ins, including the need for Eucharistic Ministers who can take the sacrament to elderly parishioners;
-Demand for funerals and anointing of the sick;
-Pastoral Programs to help people deal with bereavement and loss;
-Catholic nursing homes, hospitals and daycare centers.

In her 2005 book Theological Bioethics, Boston College theologian Lisa Sowle Cahill analyzes Western approaches to aging, decline, and death in terms of three contemporary trends: 1) individualism, meaning self-determination; 2) the medicalization of social problems, such as the proper balance between independence and dependence; and 3) the refusal to accept that life has limits, resulting in frustration and despair when science, technology, and money fail to take away suffering that is inevitably part of life. One task for a contemporary theology of aging, she writes, is to develop an alternative Catholic understanding of death and dying, one more rooted in community, in spirituality and moral discipline, and in an acceptance of the finitude of life rooted in faith about the life to come."  (John L. Allen, The Future Church. Double Day Publishing, 2009. ISBN 978-0-385-52038-6. pp162-163, 168.)

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Church History

1963 Dec 4 Sacrosanctum Concilium

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.

1963  ICEL    ICEL had already been officially established. 

1969  Comme le prevoit: On the Translation of Liturgical Texts for Celebrations with a Congregation  [The text in English can be found in The Liturgy Documents, volume II, Chapter 8.pp 227-242.

This official document from the CDWDS and approved by Paul VI who was directly involved in its composition (we have his copy with his hand-written notes in the margins, etc.) gives "guidelines" for how the Latin texts are to be translated by the various language groups -- e.g. ICEL
1.  Translations are to be adapted to the culture.
2.  Translations are to be in a language people understand -- elegant, but contemporary.

3.  The translation is to be designed to be proclaimed aloud and heard with the ear (rather than a translation designed to be read and received with the eye.)
4.  The tr
anslated text is to have the same meaning as the original, but this is to be a dynamic equivalence -- one based on the sense of the words more than the dictionary meaning of the word.  For example,  the Holy Spirit is a "refrigerium" (e.g.  a refrigerator), a cooling breeze).  In a hot, desert climate a cooling breeze is welcome.  In cold climates, you don't want any more cooling breezes. You would prefer a warm breeze.  But in either case what you want is a refreshing breeze.  Consequently the translation of refrigerium as "refreshing breeze" is an example of dynamic equivalence.
5.  Translations from the Latin are the "school" for original compositions.  Translated prayers can never have the same effect as prayers that are composed in the language in which they will be proclaimed.

1972 Nov 30  Apostolic Constitution  "Sacram Unctionem Infirmorum" on the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick

1.  Changes name:  "Extreme Unction" to "Anointing of the Sick"
2.  Changes purpose:   from "dying / dead" to "sick" and "healing"
3.  Changes "matter" -- "olive oil" to "any plant oil"
4.  Changes the "form" -- text moves from forgiveness to healing
5.  Changes the anointings to "head and hands" from the five senses 

For a discussion of the document, see Chapter s40 Introduction to the Ritual

1972 Dec 07 Ordo Unctionis Infirmorum Eorumque Pastoralis Curae

Praenotanda (Introduction)
1.  Visiting and Taking Communion to the Sick  1a.  Visiting the Sick  1b. Communion to the Sick / ordinary rite / shorter rite
2.  Anointing the Sick.  2a.  Ordinary   2b.  within Mass   2c.  with a large group
3.  Viaticum.  3a.  With Mass  3b.  Without Mass
4.  Anointing when the person is in danger of death  4a. Penance, Anointing, Viaticum  4b.  Anointing without Viaticum
5.  Confirmation in danger of death
6.  Prayers for the dying
7.  Bible texts

For a discussion of the document, see Chapter s40 Introduction to the Ritual

Lex Orandi (Theology of the Rite)

1-5 as above
5.  Priest can bless oil each time
6.  Imposition of hands re-emphasized
7.  Sacrament can be repeated during the same illness
8.  Illnesses of "mind-body-spirit" (was:  body/soul)  All interconnected
9.  Preference for communal celebration
10.  Restored sequence:  Reconciliation, Anointing, Viaticum
11.  Make the sacrament more available

For a discussion of these two documents, see Chapter s40 Introduction to the Ritual

1975 December   The Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy  (BCL) (Now = The Bishops' Committee for Divine Worship, BCDW) asked for a broad based consultation from those using the Interim Rite.  They ask about:
1) The translation of the text;
2) The layout and presentation of the rite;
3) The selection and position of the scripture readings;
4) The use and adequacy of individual rubrics;
5) The use and adequacy of individual prayers;
6) Suggested additions to the rite or its general introduction;
7) Suggest adaptations for the dioceses of the United States;
8) Suggestions as to how the rite might be made more pastorally useful.

1970's  Communal Celebrations at Sunday Eucharist  As the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy stated:   "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."  (SC 27)    This begins to be applied also to the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.  Pope Paul VI himself presides at communal Anointings in St. Peter's Basilica and speaks very positively of these healing experiences. 

1978 August 6  Pope Paul VI dies

1978 October 16  Pope John Paul II elected

1983 Sept 01  Pastoral Care of the Sick:  Rites of Anointing and Viaticum (USA)

Contents:
The Apostolic Constitution
General Introduction -- Note the "footnote" on article 8.  "The word
periculose has been carefully studied and rendered as "seriously," rather than "gravely," "dangerously," or "perilously."  Such a rendering will serve to avoid restrictions upon the celebration of the sacrament.  On the one hand, the sacrament may and should be given to any one whose health is seriously impaired; on the other hand, it may not be given indiscriminately or to any person whose health is not seriously impaired."

Part I  Pastoral Care of the Sick
Introduction [USA]
1.  Visits to the Sick  (A continuous rite with original texts and prayers)
2.  Visits to a Sick Child  (A continuous rite with original texts and prayers)
3.  Communion of the sick
Communion in Ordinary Circumstances (with texts taken from Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist outside of Mass)
Communion in a Hospital or Institution
4.  Anointing of the sick
Anointing outside Mass
Anointing within Mass (Original Collects, General Intercessions, Prayer over the Gifts, Preface, Prayers after Communion, Final Blessing)
Anointing in a Hospital or Institution

Part II.  Pastoral Care of the Dying
Introduction
5.  Celebration of Viaticum
Viaticum within Mass
Viaticum outside Mass
6.  Commendation of the Dying  (with original texts and texts taken from Rite of Funerals)
7.  Prayers for the Dead  (with original texts and texts taken from Rite of Funerals)
8.  Rites for Exceptional Circumstances
Continuous Rite of Penance, Anointing, and Viaticum
Rite for Emergencies
Christian Initiation for the Dying (with texts from Christian Initiation of Adults)
Part III.  Readings, Responses, and Verses from Sacred Scripture
Appendix:  Rite for Reconciliation of Individual Penitents (with texts taken from Rite of Penance)

1980's and 1990's Questions regarding the "minister" of the sacrament  See the discussion in Chapter s33 The Minister of Anointing

Communal Celebrations at Sunday Eucharist  As the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy stated:   "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."  (SC 27)    This begins to be applied also to the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.  Pope Paul VI himself presides at communal Anointings in St. Peter's Basilica and speaks very positively of these healing experiences. 

1982-1984 "Mystery of Faith" Study   ICEL began the first of two world-wide consultations on the revision of the 1973 Sacramentary (with the second taking place in 1986).   In the USA, the BCL undertakes a nationwide survey of Catholic parishes regarding the GIRM and gathers the results of this study to serve as the basis for their revisions of the GIRM and the Roman Missal to be incorporated in a new translation of the editio typica altera.  The Mystery of Faith:  A Study of the Structural Elements of the Order of Mass was the workbook produced by FDLC to facilitate the consultation.  The survey was entrusted to the FDLC, Rev. Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M. executive secretary.  As a result of these consultations ICEL began work on the revised Sacramentary, based upon the 2nd Typical Edition of the Missale Romanum.  The completed text was approved by the USCCB in 1996.    

This "Second English Edition" of the Sacramentary was a major improvement over the first edition.  It was done by the same people (in general) but with more experience and they had more time to work carefully.  The work was done in accordance with Comme le prevoit  but the new translations, while still in contemporary language, were more elegant.  As a result of the consultations, and following the directives which stated that "translations from the Latin are the school for original compositions. there were many adaptations and original prayers.  For example  the following three-part structure approved by the USCCB for the gathering rite (select one element each from A, B, and C): 

A

     Greeting

B

1.  Water Rite
2.  I Confess
3.  Lord, we have sinned
4.  Litany Lord, have mercy
5.  Gloria
6.  Other Sacramental or Ritual Gathering [e.g. Baptism, Confirmation, Anointing, Marriage, Ordination, Funeral]

C

Gathering Prayer
(on Sunday, 3 cycles based on readings of the day)

The Collects - Opening Prayers - for Sundays of Cycles A, B, and C were original prayers which corresponded to the gospel that would be read that day.  [They are in our 2010 Roman Missal, but they have been printed in:  Opening Prayers:  Collects in Contemporary Language (Scripture related prayers for Sundays and Holy Days, Years A, B & C).  ICEL.  Canterbury Press, 1997.

1998 Sacramentary   USCCB (and all Bishops' Conferences who celebrate liturgy in English) approve the 1996 Sacramentary translation and submit it to Rome for the approbatio. 

2007 Benedict XVI,  Summorum Pontificum

See: Timothy Brunk, "Summnorum Pontificum and Fragmentation in the Roman Catholic Church," Worship March 2015, 89:2  pp 146-165.

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Extreme Unction and Anointing of the Sick
Compared and Contrasted

 Extreme UnctionAnointing of the Sick
NameExtreme UnctionAnointing of the Sick
Dates1050 to 1972 and 2007 to present1972 to present
GodJust JudgeLoving Father
Human nature 2 parts:  Body and Soul Unity of mind, body, spirit
Effectremoves venial sin [and mortal sin] and temporal punishmentHealing of mind, body, spirit
RecipientSomeone in [immanent] danger of physical death.Anyone who is seriously ill in mind, body, and/or spirit. [e.g. mental illness, addictions, old age, anxiety, etc.]
PresumptionSins always outweigh good deeds and many people go to hell, or at least go to purgatory.  Our loving God has forgiven all of our sins in Christ and at death we are approaching the moment of sharing fully in the Paschal mystery of Christ and passing from death to the glory of the risen life.
Matterolive oil blessed by bishopOlive oil, or any plant oil, blessed by bishop or by the priest during the celebration
LiturgyAdministered privatelyCelebrated communally
LanguageOnly LatinLanguage which the people speak
FormPer istam sanctam unctionem et suam piissimam misericordiam indulgeat tibi Dominus quiquid per auditum deliquisti. Amen [By this holy unction and his most pious mercy may the Lord forgive you what ever you have offended by hearing.  (sight, taste, etc).]

[BRK over the oil and:]  Through this holy anointing, may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit.  R. Amen. May the Lord, who frees you from sin, save you and raise you up. R. Amen.

 
IntentSave soul of the dying person from hell and (lessen) purgatory.Healing of mind, body, spirit for the sick person(s).  Consolation and healing to the community by seeing the faith of the persons anointed and by faith in a loving God and the meaning of human suffering. 
The Last RitesConfession, Viaticum, Extreme Unction[Anointing of the Sick]  Viaticum
Sacrament of the DyingViaticum [Formula:  The priest places the host on the tongue of the dying person while saying:  Accipe, frater (soror) Viaticum Corporis Domini nostri Jesu Christi, qui custodiat ab hoste maligno et perducat in vitam aeternam.  Amen.  {Receive, my brother (sister), this food for your journey, the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, that he may guard you from the wicked enemy and lead you into everlasting life.  Amen.}] And then the priest administers Extreme Unction.Viaticum [Formula:  The body of Christ.  Amen.  The blood of Christ.  Amen.  Immediately or after giving communion to the sick person, the priest adds:  May the Lord Jesus Christ protect you and lead you to eternal life. Amen. 

 

A Personal Note:  In 1960 I [Fr. Tom Richstatter, O.F.M.] received Extreme Unction [I, and the people around me, thought I was dying].  1962-1966 I studied theology in preparation for ordination to the priesthood and during that time I studied Extreme Unction using the manual of theology at the time, Tanquere.  I was ordained in 1966 and administered Extreme Unction as part of my pastoral duties.  In 1971-1976 I studied sacramental theology in Paris under the direction of Pere  P.-M. Gy, O.P., who was [one of] the principal author[s] of the Ordo Unctionis Infirmorum Eorumque Pastoralis Curae.  In my pastoral ministry since returning from France I have frequently celebrated the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, communally during Sunday Eucharist, and in homes, and in hospitals.   I believe that everything that Extreme Unction can do, the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick can do and can do better.  Furthermore, the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is consistent with my understanding of God, human nature, and healing, whereas Extreme Unction is not.

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The Reform of the Reform

Note that some of the information posted here is historical and factual.  However, the interpretation of these facts will be determined by many factors:  our faith journey, our subconscious presuppositions [iceberg], and our chronological age. 

1996 Jorge Medina
(a long time friend of Ratzinger and with him a long time opponent of ICEL) becomes head of the CDWDS

1997 September  Rite of Ordination   CDWDS rejected the ICEL translation of the Rite of Ordination

1998
March 16  Sacramentary  CDWDS formally rejects the ICEL 1998 translation of the Missal which the Bishops had overwhelmingly approved.  (I was a member of the Franciscan Committee for Liturgical Research which during the years 1978 to1995 had prepared the English texts for the Roman Seraphic supplement  for this translation.)  

1999 ICEL Changed   Cardinal Medina, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments confronts ICEL.  The people working for ICEL are fired and ICEL is reformed with new instructions and new people.   ICEL is reorganized.   ICEL no longer works for the bishops.

2001 March 28 Liturgiam authenticam   Liturgiam authenticam:  The Fifth Instruction for the Right Application of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council."  

1.   Rome now has sufficient leverage to reverse the "subsidiarity movement" with regard to the authority of bishops that was put in place by the Second Vatican Council.  Rome again will be in charge.  Bishops are local administrators of Roman policy.
2.  A shift "below the iceberg" has taken place regarding the translation of liturgical texts
3
.  The translation principles of Comme le prevoit (1969)" are replaced by Liturgiam authenticam
4Translations from the Latin be "as literal as possible." 
5.  Inclusive language is rejected.
6.  Original prayers (not in the Latin text) are rejected.
7.  Vatican approval must now be sought at every stage of translating and revising liturgical texts.
8.  Personnel changes at ICEL and the BCL [now BCDW] and the CDWDS
9.  All existing translations of liturgical texts which ICEL translated using Comme le prevoit  are to be discarded and new translations prepared using Liturgicam authenticam.
   This will have many implications for the Pastoral Care of the Sick -- especially if all the USA adaptations and additions are removed. 

2002 April 20  Vox Clara   Vox Clara (a group of English speaking bishops) is established to oversee the work of ICEL. 

2004  November 14  Pierre Jounel dies.   (Friend of  Paul IV, Roman Calendar, Lectionary, Missal, Rite of Reconciliation)

2004  December 21  Pierre-Marie Gy, OP  dies  (Baptism of Infants / Anointing of the Sick / Rite of Funerals)

2005 April 2  John Paul II dies. 

2005 April 19  Benedict XVI becomes Pope.

2007 July 7  Summorum Pontificum    Apostolic Letter of Pope Benedict XVI which permits priests to celebrate Mass using the Tridentine liturgy in its 1962 form (the "Extraordinary Form") without having to ask for permission from anyone. It replaced the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei of 1988 which allowed individual bishops to establish places where Mass could be said using the 1962 Missal.

With Summorum Pontificum any priest can once again use the 1962 text for the administration of Extreme Unction with its accompanying theology and pastoral understanding and rubrics. 

See: Timothy Brunk, "Summnorum Pontificum and Fragmentation in the Roman Catholic Church," Worship March 2015, 89:2  pp 146-165.

2010  Roman Missal (Translation using the principles of Liturgiam authenticam)  The parts of the 1983  Pastoral Care of the Sick:  Rites of Anointing and Viaticum USA which are original compositions are not included in the Missal, according to the principles of Liturgiam authenticam.

The current Roman missal contains 10 ritual masses:

I. For the Conferral of the Sacraments of Christian Initiation
II. For the Conferral of the Anointing of the
Sick
III. For the Administering of Viaticum
IV. For the Conferral of Holy Orders
V. For that Celebration of Marriage
etc.

II. For the Conferral of the Anointing of the Sick
No Mass prayers are given in the Missal except for two formulas for the blessing at the end of Mass which conclude, exceptionally, "And may Almighty God bless all of you, who are gathered here, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  The rubric states: "Whenever Holy Anointing is conferred during Mass, on days when Ritual Masses are permitted, the [votive] Mass for the Sick (pp. 1313-1315) may be used with the color white.
  All the prayers given for a man may be adapted for a woman, with the necessary change of gender; in addition, those expressed in the plural may be used for individuals, with the necessary change to the singular.  At the end of Mass, a formula of blessing chosen from those that follow may be used."

Collect from the votive Mass #45 For the Sick:
O God, you willed that our infirmities
be borne by your Only Begotten Son
to show the value of human suffering,
listen in kindness to our prayers
for our brothers and sisters who are sick;
grant that all who are oppressed by pain, distress or other afflictions
may know that they are chosen
among those proclaimed blessed
and are united to Christ
in his suffering for the salvation of the world. 
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.  Amen.

2018?  2020? [second edition] Rite of Anointing the Sick and the Pastoral Care of Them   (Translation using the principles of Liturgiam authenticam)  The parts of the 1983  Pastoral Care of the Sick:  Rites of Anointing and Viaticum USA marked in red below will probably disappear.)

Contents:
The Apostolic Constitution
General Introduction
-- Note the "footnote" on article 8.  "The word periculose has been carefully studied and rendered as "seriously," rather than "gravely," "dangerously," or "perilously."  Such a rendering will serve to avoid restrictions upon the celebration of the sacrament.  On the one hand, the sacrament may and should be given to any one whose health is seriously impaired; on the other hand, it may not be given indiscriminately or to any person whose health is not seriously impaired."

Part I  Pastoral Care of the Sick
Introduction [USA]
1.  Visits to the Sick 
(A continuous rite with original texts and prayers)
2.  Visits to a Sick Child  (A continuous rite with original texts and prayers)
3.  Communion of the sick
Communion in Ordinary Circumstances
(with texts taken from Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist outside of Mass)
Communion in a Hospital or Institution
4.  Anointing of the sick
Anointing outside Mass
Anointing within Mass
(Original Collects, General Intercessions, Prayer over the Gifts, Preface, Prayers after Communion, Final Blessing)
Anointing in a Hospital or Institution

Part II.  Pastoral Care of the Dying
Introduction
5.  Celebration of Viaticum
Viaticum within Mass
Viaticum outside Mass
6.  Commendation of the Dying  (with original texts and texts taken from Rite of Funerals) 
7.  Prayers for the Dead  (with original texts and texts taken from Rite of Funerals)

8.  Rites for Exceptional Circumstances
Continuous Rite of Penance, Anointing, and Viaticum
Rite for Emergencies
Christian Initiation for the Dying (with texts from Christian Initiation of Adults)
Part III.  Readings, Responses, and Verses from Sacred Scripture
Appendix:  Rite for Reconciliation of Individual Penitents (with texts taken from Rite of Penance)

 

My Reflections

The Human Person:
What makes me, “me”?

My understanding of the human person has evolved in recent years. I no longer think of myself (or human beings in general) as a being composed of a body and a soul. I now see myself as a unified “body/person”. I am mind, body, and spirit.

This change (which has been brought about primarily through reflection on Sacred Scripture) is one of those “Tip of the Pistol Changes” which I referenced in the introduction of this book. [Recall the metaphor of the Stuttgart policeman: a seemingly tiny change in something very basic can have huge implications.]


Common Presupposition: I Have a Body and a Soul

I’m sure that students of Plato and Aristotle and devotees of St. Thomas Aquinas can make precise definitions of these terms; here I’m simply talking about the common, everyday usage of these words. That we each have a body and a soul has been the presumption of Catholics (and Westerners in general) for a thousand years. I am confident that most of you reading this book simply accept the “body/soul” understanding of the human person without giving it a second thought--as I did for most of my life.

Already in grade school (and perhaps even before that) I learned that I had a body and a soul. My first Baltimore Catechism taught me that the important part of me was my soul. My soul would live forever; my body would die some day and turn to dust in the grave. It was my soul that I wanted to be filled with Grace. I wanted my soul to be pure and spotless, free from the stains of sin. (The Catechism illustrated sin as a black stain on my soul.)

As I grew older, the biological sciences explained how my body was formed in the womb of my mother; at some point this body was joined to my soul and I became me, i.e. Tom. (Current Catholic teaching says that this happened at the very moment my dad’s sperm impregnated mom’s egg.) I was not too sure where my soul came from. Whether my soul existed from all eternity (i.e. God made all the souls “all at once”) or whether God created my soul at the moment the sperm impregnated the egg (or thereabouts) was never explained. It didn’t seem to be important; the important thing was that my soul would live forever! And together, my body and my soul, made “me”.


Unknowingly influenced by Plato, this understanding grounded my thinking for most of my Christian life. I never thought very much about it. I didn’t realize that this philosophical understanding entered our Christian thinking at a certain point in history. It was simply presumed by the scholastic philosophers and theologians such as St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Bonaventure. I presumed that it was part of the faith revealed by God.

But now I know that our earliest Christian author, St. Paul, was not comfortable with this philosophical invasion into the Christian message. I find that the Hebrews and the Middle East in general view the human person from a more holistic and unified perspective, namely, that I am a “body/person” -- body, mind, and spirit.

From “Body & Soul” to “Body/Mind/Spirit”

Pause for a moment and think about what you know about yourself as a “being”. For example: as I sit here writing this paragraph, I know where I am (i.e. sitting at my computer). I know what day it is; how I am feeling -- in short, I am connected to the “here and now”. Let’s call this connection to the here and now “body.”

As I sit in the “here and now” I can wonder about what I’m going to have for supper; I can remember the movie I saw last night. This connection with the past and the future let’s call “mind.”

I also know that there are things “out there”. I am influenced by my relationships with other others. I am shaped by my relationship to God and by God’s love for me. This vertical “beyond” the horizontal past and future, here and now, let’s call “spirit.”

I am all three of these things at once: mind, body, spirit. Without any of them I would not be “me”. A change in any one of them changes me. For example, anxiety (mind) over the possibility of being fired at work can cause me to become physically ill (body). A prolonged illness (body) can lead me to doubt the goodness of God (spirit). Anxiety (mind/spirit) can be relieved chemically (body) with medication. Body/mind/spirit are not three “parts” of me; I am body, mind, and spirit.

While I find unified body/person view to be much more satisfying and useful than the two-part body/soul concept, I realize that there are those in decision making positions in the Church who continue to think in terms of body/soul.

To cite but one example: each day when I am invited to the eucharistic table I am reminded of the story in Matthew 8:5-13 (& Luke 7:1-10) where a centurion asks the Lord to cure his servant. As Jesus agrees to do, so the centurion says: “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.” (Mt. 8:8 Roman Lectionary , #376)
At Mass, I respond to the invitation “Behold the Lamb of God…” with the words: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” (Roman Missal, 2011, #132). At my age I would much prefer that my body be healed! The former translation was more compatible with my current, holistic thinking: “but only say the word and I [i.e. all of me, body/mind/spirit] shall be healed.” (Sacramentary, 1974)

Implications

The change from understanding myself as having a body and a soul to understanding myself as a “body/person is one of those “Tip of the Pistol Changes” I spoke of in the introduction. It may seem to be an insignificant change without any consequences “out there” in the real world. But this is not the case. The small “tip of the pistol change” has some very important consequences. Let’s look at several of them.

 

The Sacrament of the Sick

Extreme Unction (1400 CE to 1969) to
The Anointing of the Sick (1969 to the present)

 

On nearly every page of the Gospels we see Jesus healing the sick. After his resurrection and ascension, his disciples continue this ministry.

Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. (James 5:13-15 NRSV)

When Peter Lombard listed the sacraments of the Church to be seven in number (about 1050CE), among the seven we find Extreme Unction. Lombard’s list was adopted by St. Thomas Aquinas and enshrined in the decrees of the Council of Trent. Extreme Unction was the way in which the Church continued the healing ministry of Jesus.

Those who wrote about the sacrament explained it against the Aristotelian background of body and soul; there are illnesses of the body (a broken leg, a heart attack, etc.) and illnesses of the soul (sin). Sacraments (as they are religious, spiritual things) are directed toward illnesses of the soul. Baptism cures the soul of original sin (and any and all actual sins that may be staining the soul.) Confession cures the soul of mortal and venial sins committed after Baptism. When the body is in the close proximity of death, Extreme Unction cures the soul of any and all stains of sin (spiritual illnesses) which would prevent or even delay the soul’s entrance into heaven. In some cases, Extreme Unction can also restore health to the body if this is God’s will, but if this is not the primary intent of the sacrament as we can see from the words used to administer the sacrament.


May the Lord forgive you by this holy anointing and by his most loving mercy whatever sins you have committed by the use of your sight (hearing, sense of smell, sense of taste, power of speech, etc.).

The focus of Extreme Unction is on healing the soul by forgiving sins which were committed through the instrumentality of the body. It is through the body that the soul has been harmed.

****

Refer to the tip of the pistol change: today when we think of the Sacrament of the anointing of the sick we immediately notice the change in the name of the sacrament, the new sacramental formula, the number of anointing’s, etc. but back at the “tip of the pistol” the focus “body/soul” has changed to “mind body Spirit”

Those revised the sacrament those in charge of the revision of this sacramental ritual were aware of the relationship the integral the integrity of the human person with regard to health and wellness illness and wellness. Illness of the body…

The second Vatican Council helped us prepare for this ministry by its changes in the sacrament of the anointing of the sick.

The Vatican Council changed the name of the sacrament, and directed that a new ritual be composed.

“‘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 the sacrament has certainly already arrived. … A rite shall be prepared… The prayers which belong to the rite of anointing are to be revised…(Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, December 4, 1963, #73, 74, 75)

The committee charged with carrying out these instructions not only changed the name of the sacrament but changed its focus. No longer working from a “body/soul” view of the person but now working from the more holistic view that we are each “mind/body/spirit” the focus of the sacrament is directed to the healing of the total person. The prayer over the oil to be used in the anointing of the sick asks God to send the Holy Spirit to: “Make this oil a remedy for all who are anointed with it; heal them in body, in mind, and in spirit.”

One could only receive Extreme Unction when one was physically ill. Now one can be anointed for any serious illness; anxiety, addictions, PTSD, etc.

***
Today, perhaps more than ever before, our care for the sick and dying is a very important ministry.

“In the United States, the Catholic Church will have 6.8 million additional members over the age of 65 by 2030, by far the most substantial expansion of any subgroup in the Church. Inevitably, these trends mean that the Church will be pressed to invest an increasing share of its resources in ministry to the elderly. Ministries that will expand rapidly include:

-Chaplains in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and hospitals;
-Ministry to shut-ins, including the need for Eucharistic Ministers who can take the sacrament to elderly parishioners;
-Demand for funerals and anointing of the sick;
-Pastoral Programs to help people deal with bereavement and loss;
-Catholic nursing homes, hospitals and daycare centers.

(John L. Allen, The Future Church. Double Day Publishing, 2009. ISBN 978-0-385-52038-6. pp162-163, 168.)

 

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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 04/05/17.  Your comments on this site are welcome at trichstatter@franciscan.org