ANOINTING OF THE SICK

The Rite of Anointing tells us there is no need to wait until a person is at the point of death to receive the Sacrament. A careful judgment about the serious nature ... I think many Catholics would picture a priest standing at a hospital bedside. For an increasing number of Catholics, however, the mental picture would be different. They would picture a parish gathered for Sunday Eucharist, with 30 or so people-some visibly ill, some apparently perfectly healthy-coming up the aisle to be anointed, some with their spouses or caregivers. Although the sacrament began as a ritual of healing, over time the emphasis shifted to the forgiveness of sins on the deathbed, when such forgiveness would be the final preparation for heaven. The Second Vatican Council returned the original meaning to the sacrament by emphasizing that it is not only for those who are at the point of death, but for anyone who is seriously ill, including mental or spiritual illness.