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The Catholic Defender: The Sacrament Of The Anointing Of The Sick

“Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone in good spirits? He should sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters of the Church, and they should pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven”. James 5:13-15

I was brought up to understand that a Sacrament was as an outward sign of the inward grace we receive through what I will call the Lord’s outreach to His people. Certainly, in my life, the Sacraments have been a life line.

While stationed at Fort Campbell Kentucky, I use to go to St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Oak Grove just outside of the Military post.

I was very involved with the Parish through the Knights of Columbus, the RCIA, the Youth Group, CCD, Bible Studies, I even would take my 53 inch TV to present good Catholic programs after the Saturday Mass.

Without a doubt, one of the greatest honors I have ever received was given me by Father David, the opportunity to go with him when he would go on a call to administer the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.

Because I was in the medical field, he liked having me along with him. In the ancient world, oil was used for medication. Through Father’s Ministry, the Lord worked miracles of healing.

I first remember this great Sacrament offered to my Mother when I was in college. My Mother in the latter 1960′s was hit by a car broad side as it went through a red light.

My Mother had her back broke in a number of places and for about a year I had to live with relatives while Mom recuperated. For years my Mother suffered from severe headaches, spinal taps, and loss of mobility.

I remember Mom would be in her garden moving from one plant to the next kind of scooting along making her way. She could barely walk. One day at Mass Father invited anyone who had been sick to come up for this great Sacrament.

Mom went up along with about 12 other people and when Father came to her, she later explained she felt a warming sensation that went throughout her body. From that time on, Mom was able to move around at a much greater mobility and she never complained again of the headaches.

That was the first time I was exposed to something that God sometimes does to intervene in the life of His people.

Matthew 4:23 states, "And he went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every infirmity among the people." Jesus through the Ministry of His Catholic Church continues this great work of healing, especially spiritual healing.

This certainly gives greater light to Mark 6:13 which says, “They (the Apostles) drove out many demons and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them”. St. James is recognizing the presbyter as a true agent of God in the Ministry of the 12 Apostles. That is the connection between St. James and Mark’s context. Father David (and all Catholic Priests) whom I served holds the same Apostolic Ministry.

This Sacrament is the true extension of the Lord’s healing hand. Jesus is working within His Ministry. Matthew 11:28 Jesus says, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Through the Ministry of the Church, Jesus is fully alive and active in our lives.

I have long seen this scripture as important to Catholic teaching the need of the priesthood. It is quite noticeable that a presbyter is called upon to offer this great Sacrament.

Hence, the dreaded middle man some of my Protestant friends would reject? Also, through the action of the Priest, the person’s sins are forgiven, just as in the Sacrament of Confession. What a great blessing we have in this great Sacrament.

My Mother was able to do far more in her 50′s than she ever was in her 40′s. When I lived in Harrison Arkansas in the early 1980′s, the Catholic Priest (Father Micek) of the Parish there told me of the time he was just ordained a priest serving in northern Arkansas in a mission territory.

He was instructing an elderly lady who was coming to him learning about the Catholic Faith. One night he receives a call from a daughter of this lady who asked for him to see her Mother.

She had been in a coma for five days, had not eaten anything or had anything to drink. When Father arrived, he administered Baptism to the Lady and then administered the Sacrament of the Anointing of the sick. Just as Father completed the task the lady opened her eyes and sat up saying “Thank God thank you Father”!

This totally surprised Father as well as the family. For me, helping Father David at St. Michael’s only reinforced my beliefs. I would see this great Sacrament offered for both my Mother and also my wife and now finally, for myself. In our time, this Sacrament is being offered for those who are not only dying or very sick, but also for those preparing for a major surgery.

1 Peter 2:24 states, "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed." Jesus sent out His Church to go to all the nations with each and everyone of you in mind. God Our Father loves you even as He loves the Son. What a great message of hope this is.

From the “Fish Eaters”:

The blessing of oils is performed by the Bishop of each diocese on Holy Thursday (Holy Week) in the Cathedral during the Chrism Mass. The oils are maintained in either metal or glass bottles called “Chrismatories”. These vessals are then stored in a cabinet called an “Anby” which is usually fixed to the wall of the sanctuary. Priests also have a portable “oilstock” which has a section for each of the three holy oils.

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