Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Celebrating the Anointing of the Sick

This week at Mass, Father celebrated the Anointing of the Sick with members of the parish who were ill.  During this Sacrament, the sick are anointed with holy oil and their sins are forgiven.  This Sacrament was taught and practiced from the Apostles, as we see in scripture:

"Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven."(James 5:14-15)

The Annointing of the Sick is one of the Seven Sacraments in the Catholic Church.  The other Sacraments include Baptism, Eucharist, Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Orders, Reconciliation.  Regarding the general definition of what constitutes a Sacrament, the Catechism of the Catholic Church defines them as such:

Sacraments are "powers that comes forth" from the Body of Christ, (LUKE 5:17; 6:19; 8:45) which is ever-living and life-giving. They are actions of the Holy Spirit at work in his Body, the Church. They are "the masterworks of God" in the new and everlasting covenant.(CCC 1116)

"The purpose of the sacraments is to sanctify men, to build up the Body of Christ and, finally, to give worship to God. Because they are signs they also instruct. They not only presuppose faith, but by words and objects they also nourish, strengthen, and express it. That is why they are called 'sacraments of faith.'"(CCC 1123)

When we suffer, we are called to join that suffering to Christ's suffering (2 Cor 1:5; 1 Peter 2:20-21).  We are called to be thankful for the suffering that we endure (Acts 5:40-41, Phillipians 3:10-11).  This is not an easy thing to accomplish.  In times of suffering, there are many ways that we can choose to react.  We can choose to grow in the love of Jesus Christ, or not.  Thankfully, by the mercy of God, He gives us access to His Grace through this sacrament to strengthen us in our suffering.

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