San Rocco Oratory

of the Archdiocese of Chicago

Anointing of the Seriously Ill

This liturgy of healing is commended in the Epistle of St. James, where the presbyers ("priests" or "elders") are to be called in to the bedside of a Christian who is seriously ill; they are to pray over the person and anoint him in the name of the Lord. 

Please note that this anointing should be given readily to almost anyone who is hospitalized because of illness; you wouldn't be in there unless it was serious.  A deacon cannot do this anointing; by tradition, it should be a priest or bishop.  At Catholic hospitals, there will be no problem for you to get the benefit of this sacrament; you need only make the request.  If you are at Ingalls or another non-Catholic hospital, you can ask for a Catholic chaplain; or, if you wish, call Father Gilligan at (708) 331-5485.

In general, it's better to celebrate this sacrament with someone who is conscious and able to pray or at least understand.  While someone who is unconscious can be anointed, such a person would benefit more from the sacrament if he or she is conscious.  Anointing of the Sick can be a genuine support for a patient, a source of strength and hope.  Usually, anointing is given to an individual patient, with the priest and perhaps one relative present. 

Like Holy Communion and reconciliation, the sacrament of anointing usually can be given only to Catholics, Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and members of the Assyrian Church of the East and the Polish National Catholic Church.  According to the current discipline of the Church, most Protestants are not sufficiently in communion with us to share sacraments in this way.  Fortunately, there are plenty of Protestant ministers available, at both Catholic and non-Catholic hospitals.   

At San Rocco, we have had only one public anointing, a Votive Mass for the Sick, for Dolly Pinnow, celebrated in the evening, when others could be present to pray with her and for her.  Anointing was given after the sermon; she was able to be present for the liturgy.

Anointing can be given in the hospital, in the home, or, more rarely, in such a public liturgy, in the church building itself.  You have only to ask.

San Rocco Oratory

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