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How to Prepare for a Sick Call
 Anointing of The Sick 

How to Prepare for a Sick Call

An inescapable part of Catholic family life — of any kind of life, for that matter — is sickness and death. There are times in a family when a member is more or less seriously ill but recovers, and there will also be the time of a member’s last illness and death. In either case it is imperative to call the priest, so that he may bring the comfort and strength of the sacraments to the ailing person. Cardinal Vaughn of England beautifully noted some hundred years ago that the essence of the priesthood consists in bringing people to Our Lord through the sacraments and bringing Our Lord to them when they are unable to come themselves.

When a priest is called to a person in danger of death, he will give “the Last Rites,” which consist of the sacraments of Penance, Holy Eucharist (which will be administered as Holy Viaticum), and Extreme Unction (Anointing of the Sick). The Last Rites also include the Apostolic Blessing, which, if received with the proper dispositions, will gain for the dying person a plenary indulgence at the hour of death. As death becomes imminent, the priest will also lead the prayers for the dying which are contained in the Roman Ritual.

Be sure to notify the priest when you or a family member is seriously ill, confined to bed, or preparing for an operation. It is the priest’s pastoral duty to visit you in the hospital, nursing facility or at home when this happens. Besides the opportunity to receive the sacraments, the sick call also strengthens the priest-parishioner relationship, and in some cases even restores it (e.g. in the case where a sick person has been away from the sacraments or from the church altogether).

Another reason to call the priest in any serious illness is that it may easily turn into a danger of death. What a tragedy it would be if someone died without the sacraments and the blessings of the Church simply because the family members mistakenly thought it premature to call the priest! It is in the hour of death that the devil typically wages his fiercest battle to drag the soul into further sin, discouragement, or even despair. It is his chance to try to snatch the soul.

Contact the parish in a timely manner to assure the sick person is able to receive the sacraments with better presence of mind and with conscious preparation. A manual for Catholic pupils notes:

    “When anyone is very sick, we should not wait until he is dying to send for a priest. The sick person cannot go to confession and receive Holy Communion after he is unconscious. Often persons are afraid that the priest will frighten the sick person. On the contrary, the sacraments are a source of comfort and consolation to the sick. They are usually much happier after they have seen the priest” (The Sacraments and the Mass, by Joseph P. Vacek and Josephine Littel, The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine of the Archdiocese of St. Paul, Inc., St. Paul, MN 1939, p. 41).

In imminent danger of death, the priest should be called immediately at the parish office number 780-439-8800, of course, at any hours of the day or night.

 Anointing of The Sick 
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