The Celebration of the Christian Mystery
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.
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
(the sacrament of those
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.
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.”
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.
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.