“Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the priests of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful.” - James 5:14-16
For centuries popular Catholic imagination restricted Extreme Unction to those in the last moments of life. The Fathers of the Vatican II (1962-1965), reminded the faithful that “ ’extreme unction,’ which may also and more fittingly be called ‘anointing of the sick,’ is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death. Hence, as soon as any one 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 already arrived” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 73). In other words, the popular practice of delaying this Extreme Unction until death was imminent did not conform to the deepest nature of the sacrament.
Seeing the Sacrament of the Sick as a sacrament for those in the first rather than the last stages of illness places greater emphasis on the spiritual and physical healing of the one who receives Holy Anointing. The Latin Church emphasizes the ancient apostolic link between the Confession of sins and Anointing of the Sick. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is normally presumed as a prerequisite for receiving healing. Spiritual healing, which is always offered, involves being strengthened to face the trials of serious illness, particularly temptations to question one’s faith. Physical healing may take place if it is part of God’s plan for the salvation of the sick person.
Openness to God’s healing power is a fruit of repentance. To the extent that we are in our sins, we close the door to receiving a cure for our illnesses, be they physical or spiritual. In order to be healed, we must repent.
A Healing Service may include:
All are welcome. One does not have to be Catholic, nor even a Christian, to receive the sacramental of the Blessing for the Sick.