Why don't we talk about extreme unction anymore?
The "sacrament of the sick" is a more adequate title than "Extreme Unction". Extreme Unction used to frighten many people, because it meant near death. So, as a rule, it was administered to the dying at the last moment, when very often, they were not even conscious of what was going on.
In the course of every illness, there is suffering and a need for the presence of a good and merciful God, of Jesus who spent His life on earth curing the sick and forgiving sinners. It is He who visits the sick or the aged exhausted by life. Through the sacrament of the sick, He fortifies the body and the soul. It is He who helps the Christian man or woman to overcome this crisis in life. It is He who can make illness a moment of grace. It is He who assimilates the sick to Himself on the cross.
The sacrament of the sick must be associated with a pastoral effort that is concerned, not only with the unction, but also the visit and the communion of the sick. Moreover, besides being a priest's duty, it is everyone's responsibility as a Christian.
As the sick are being anointed with oil, let them be steeped in faith through prayer, according to Saint James' exhortation: "This prayer uttered in faith will reclaim the one who is ill, and the Lord will restore him to health. If he has committed any sins, forgiveness will be his" (James 5: 15). This sacrament may restore the body to health; it even restores a sinful soul to grace.
The unction of the sick is the sacrament of the sick; Viaticum is the sacrament of the dying.
The Eucharist received as viaticum strengthens the dying as they pass into eternity.
The sacraments, acts of grace from the Lord Jesus, accompany the faithful all through life. They should not miss these meetings with God.
The unction of the sick is a gift of the Lord to be received spontaneously and consciously with joy!
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