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The Celebration of the Christian Mystery

381

grace of this sacrament, contributes to the sanctification of the

Church and to the good of all men for whom the Church suffers

and offers herself through Christ to God the Father.

1523

A

preparation for the final journey.

If the sacrament of anointing

of the sick is given to all who suffer from serious illness and infirmity,

evenmore rightly is it given to those at the point of departing this life;

so it is also called

sacramentum exeuntium

(the sacrament of those

departing).

139

The Anointing of the Sick completes our conformity to

the death and Resurrection of Christ, just as Baptism began it. It

completes the holy anointings that mark the whole Christian life: that

of Baptism which sealed the new life in us, and that of Confirmation

which strengthened us for the combat of this life. This last anointing

fortifies the end of our earthly life like a solid rampart for the final

struggles before entering the Father’s house.

140

V.

V

iaticum

,

the

L

ast

S

acrament of

the

C

hristian

1524

In addition to the Anointing of the Sick, the Church offers

those who are about to leave this life the Eucharist as viaticum.

Communion in the body and blood of Christ, received at this

moment of “passing over” to the Father, has a particular signifi-

cance and importance. It is the seed of eternal life and the power of

resurrection, according to the words of the Lord: “He who eats my

flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up

at the last day.”

141

The sacrament of Christ once dead and now

risen, the Eucharist is here the sacrament of passing over from

death to life, from this world to the Father.

142

1525

Thus, just as the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and

the Eucharist form a unity called “the sacraments of Christian

initiation,” so too it can be said that Penance, the Anointing of the

Sick and the Eucharist as viaticum constitute at the end of Christian

life “the sacraments that prepare for our heavenly homeland” or

the sacraments that complete the earthly pilgrimage.

139 Council of Trent (1551): DS 1698.

140 Council of Trent (1551): DS 1694.

141

Jn

6:54.

142 Cf.

Jn

13:1.

1020

1294

1020

1392

1680

2299