The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is a prayer by the Church for the healing of the person being anointed. Perhaps that healing will be physical – if it be God’s will – but the healing that we ask for in the sacrament is also spiritual and emotional. The Sacrament of the Sick is available to any baptized Catholic (over the age of 7) whose health is seriously impaired by illness or advanced age. This sacrament has been referred to as “Extreme Unction” and the “Last Rites.” For this reason, many people are reluctant to seek the sacrament until the person is close to their last breath. The Church asks us not to wait until the last possible moment and encourages any Catholic whose health is seriously impaired to seek the sacrament whenever their illness or infirmity becomes serious.
Baptism is always the first sacrament that a person receives, so the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is not available to the unbaptized. In addition, the Sacrament of the Sick is associated with the forgiveness of sins. Like the Sacrament of Reconciliation, this sacrament is only celebrated by a priest and it is not administered to those who are under the age of reason, as no personal sins are imputed to ones so young.
Arrangements to celebrate the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick can be made when a person is homebound, in advance of scheduled surgery, or when a person is admitted to the hospital. In addition, arrangements can be made to bring Holy Communion to a person who is unable to come to Mass.