The Celebration of the Christian Mystery
In case of grave illness . . .
TheAnointing of the Sick “is not a sacrament for those only
who are at the point of death. Hence, as soon as anyone of the
faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age,
the fitting time for him to receive this sacrament has certainly
If a sick person who received this anointing recovers his
health, he can in the case of another grave illness receive this
sacrament again. If during the same illness the person’s condition
becomes more serious, the sacrament may be repeated. It is fitting
to receive the Anointing of the Sick just prior to a serious operation.
The same holds for the elderly whose frailty becomes more pro-
“. . . let him call for the presbyters of the Church”
Only priests (bishops and presbyters) are ministers of the
Anointing of the Sick.
It is the duty of pastors to instruct the
faithful on the benefits of this sacrament. The faithful should
encourage the sick to call for a priest to receive this sacrament. The
sick should prepare themselves to receive it with good disposi-
tions, assisted by their pastor and the whole ecclesial community,
which is invited to surround the sick in a special way through
their prayers and fraternal attention.
Like all the sacraments the Anointing of the Sick is a
liturgical and communal celebration,
whether it takes place in
the family home, a hospital or church, for a single sick person or a
whole group of sick persons. It is very fitting to celebrate it within
the Eucharist, the memorial of the Lord’s Passover. If circum-
stances suggest it, the celebration of the sacrament can be preceded
by the sacrament of Penance and followed by the sacrament of the
Eucharist. As the sacrament of Christ’s Passover the Eucharist
should always be the last sacrament of the earthly journey, the
“viaticum” for “passing over” to eternal life.
73; cf. CIC, cann. 1004 § 1; 1005; 1007; CCEO, can. 738.
131 Cf. Council of Trent (1551): DS 1697; 1719; CIC, can. 1003; CCEO, can. 739 § 1.