In the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, the sick person is met by the Church to be presented to Christ. She or he is anointed with oil, and the priest lays hands upon them in a sign of the healing action of Jesus Christ. The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is understood as an encounter with Christ, through His body, the Church, who commanded his apostles to heal the sick (CCC 1509).
Any person who is seriously ill may be anointed. At one time, the popular thought about this Sacrament was that it was the “last rites” a person receives. Anointing of the Sick is not reserved, however, for those near death. While there are specific rites and rituals for those approaching death, the Sacrament of Anointing may be celebrated by anyone who is sick, and it may be repeated multiple times throughout one’s life.
When one receives this Sacrament, she or he receives a particular gift of the Holy Spirit, who strengthens faith and forgives sins. The one anointed is also united to the saving action of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection. As all illness reminds of the human movement toward death, a consequence of original sin, this Sacrament connects the faithful more closely to Christ’s salvation. Further, the Sacrament of Anointing assists the Church in better understanding itself as an agent of compassion in the midst of the sufferings of being human. Finally, when received by one who is near death, the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick provides a preparation for the final journey and offers all a witness to the final healing of all that is not whole through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.