If you would like to be anointed with the oil for the sick, please contact the Parish Office.

Anointed in Christ with the Oil of Hope

Miracles do happen. Just look around and see how many people are visiting Lourdes, Fatima, etc. Some are physically ill; many are spiritually sick. We all look for healing and we all know that it is much more difficult to heal a broken heart than a broken leg. We all are in need of the healing touch of Jesus, the Healer.

Sacraments are channels of healing, forgiveness and constant love. No wonder why in the Catholic Church they are the main focus of the Church’s activity. In the sacraments we offer our worship in union with our Lord, Jesus Christ, the Healer, God the Father gave us. As Christians, we believe that through the Church, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ pours out His redemptive love upon everyone who is God’s child.

The sacrament of anointing of the sick is not an exception from this case. This sacrament implies an anointing with oil (on forehead and hands and, if necessary on the sick place of the body), while praying. First, the priest anoints the forehead, saying: “Through this holy anointing may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit…” Then, he anoints the hands, saying: “May the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up…”

There is a rich history behind the sacrament of anointing of the sick, which makes us under-stand better what this sacrament is all about. The way we understand this sacrament today is based on how the Church tried to understand and explain it throughout centuries. Some people may understand this sacrament as an ‘action’ or ‘something’ which should be accomplished only before death. No wonder why in the past it was said about this sacrament as, “the last rites.” Even today we can hear, unfortunately pretty often, the same, old expression.

Others will see in the anointing something magic and mysterious which, occasionally, can “even” heal. Nothing is more wrong than these opinions.

The scriptural references of this sacrament teach us a lesson: the anointing should not be seen as “the last sacrament.”

“And the disciples cast out many demons and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them.” (Mk 6:13)

“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. … Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man and the Lord will raise him up…” (James 5:14-15)

As everyone can see, there is nothing magic or mysterious in these words, in the minister, or in the oil. The sacrament of anointing has its roots in Scripture, and reflects an ancient practice of anointing with oil; now it is accomplished in Christ, for the remission of sin, to strengthen the sick, to comfort and to bring peace before we enter into the unknown realm and last battle of our lives or fighting against a certain illness. Anointing includes also the possibility of physical healing, but its main purpose is the spiritual healing. As specified before, it is not only for those in danger of death. Anointing is for all those faithful whose health is in danger by sickness or old age; it is for a person before a serious surgery; it is for elderly people; it is for those with mental-illness; it is for sick children.

Anointing is given whenever is necessary, it is not a ‘one-time’ sacrament. Anointing anticipated with prayer, penance/confession (if required), and then, usually, it is preceded with Eucharist, as viaticum. Sometimes there is no time for all of these: for this reason nobody should wait until the last moment!

Anointing of the sick is about forgiveness, spiritual and possible physical healing. If somebody loves someone, this person should not wait in calling the priest for anointing, or should not delay coming to anointing Masses. Calling the priest for anointing and praying together for the beloved person who needs our prayer is nothing but an act of love, welcomed by God. In praying it, it is not only the priest but also the family and the entire community of faith inter-ceding to God.

Because this sacrament is not an “extreme unction” or “the last rite,” we, in Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, include in our liturgy the healing-Masses, announced previously in the bulletins. The family, friends, relatives of all those mentioned above, are welcomed and should come together with the one to be anointed. It is their task as well to strengthen the sick with their presence, with their words of faith and prayer, to encourage them to embrace whatever God gives. “If one suffers in the Body of Christ, everybody suffers” (1Cor 12:16).

We have to remember always that such ill people have the power to remind us that in our lives there are more essential and higher things. Life, here on earth, is incomplete; suffering guides and shows us to a greater reality. Thus, in anointing, in this humble and simple sacrament, we can see the proclamation of God’s kingdom; we can see a part of our mission. Through the eyes of faith we see, in the anointing, the oil of hope; we see the sign of God’s presence in our lives, when, too often, we find ourselves in the valley of sorrows.