The Celebration of the Christian Mystery
THE ANOINTING OF THE SICK
“By the sacred anointing of the sick and the prayer of the
priests the whole Church commends those who are ill to the
suffering and glorified Lord, that he may raise them up and save
them. And indeed she exhorts them to contribute to the good of the
People of God by freely uniting themselves to the Passion and
death of Christ.”
Illness in human life
Illness and suffering have always been among the gravest
problems confronted in human life. In illness, man experiences his
powerlessness, his limitations, and his finitude. Every illness can
make us glimpse death.
Illness can lead to anguish, self-absorption, sometimes
even despair and revolt against God. It can also make a person
more mature, helping him discern in his life what is not essential
so that he can turn toward that which is. Very often illness provokes
a search for God and a return to him.
The sick person before God
The man of the Old Testament lives his sickness in the
presence of God. It is before God that he laments his illness, and it
is of God, Master of life and death, that he implores healing.
Illness becomes a way to conversion; God’s forgiveness initiates the
It is the experience of Israel that illness is mysteriously
linked to sin and evil, and that faithfulness to God according to his
law restores life: “For I am the Lord, your healer.”
intuits that suffering can also have a redemptive meaning for the
sins of others.
Finally Isaiah announces that God will usher in a
time for Zion when he will pardon every offense and heal every
32:5; 38:5; 39:9, 12; 107:20; cf.