“By the sacred anointing of the sick and the prayer of the priests the whole Church commends those who are ill to the suffering and glorified Lord, that he may raise them up and save them. And indeed she exhorts them to contribute to the good of the People of God by freely uniting themselves to the Passion and death of Christ (CCC #1499).” Through the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, the Church continues the ministry of Jesus—compassion and healing. It is the Prayer of the Church for the sick.
In the Church's Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, throughthe ministry of the priest, it is Jesus who touches the sick to heal them from sin – and sometimes even from physical ailment. His cures were signs of the arrival of the Kingdom of God. The core message of his healing tells us of his plan to conquer sin and death by his dying and rising.
The Sacrament of Anointing may be administered to a person above the age of reason who faces a critical illness, or who because of age could be endangered by a lighter illness. It may be administered again to the same person if the illness worsens or, if after a length of time, the illness remains.
The primary effects of the sacrament are the grace to suffer well and the forgiveness of sins. It is not the teaching of the Church that this sacrament is performed to encourage physical or mental healing-such an effect would be considered miraculous. If a person is in grave illness and unable to make a sacramental confession, the sacramental anointing suffices for the forgiveness of sins. However, should a person recover, they are bound to confess sacramental all mortal sins they are knowledgeable of which were forgiven in the sacrament of anointing.
When a person is near death, the sacrament of Anointing is usually linked with Holy Communion (called Viaticum). The united administration of these two sacraments to a person near death is what is more commonly referred to as "Last Rites".
Any Catholic or the family member of a Catholic are encouraged to call the pastor for this sacrament if a loved one is seriously ill in the hospital or is confined to a nursing home or at home.
A person who is in good health is not eligible to receive this sacrament.