Once a Catholic, always a Catholic – you hope!

One of the sweet things about being a priest is being able to minister at a person’s deathbed. The veil between this world and the next is very thin at that point, and you can see so much. When I say you can “see” so much what I mean is that so much is revealed. At that point the person who is dying is usually very vulnerable and open. Their worldly facade is fading. Their accomplishments and pride are forgotten. They realize that all the stuff of this world will soon be left behind.

Often the person is quietly sleeping. The family is gathered around and there is no response as the last rites are given. On the other hand, sometimes the process is very conscious. More than once I’ve been called to visit a man or woman who has called the parish office specifically because they know they are dying and they want to see a Catholic priest.

So I once made my way to a small apartment in a not so good part of town. I was admitted to find a man in his sixties with a haggard expression gasping for air. Call him Ralph.

Read more

Why can’t deacons confer Anointing of the Sick?

That priests and only priests can confer this sacrament is clearly taught in Sacred Scripture: Is any man sick among you? Let him bring in the priests of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. (James 5:14)

This is not the type of teaching which can change. The minister of the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick has been and will always be priests and only priests (including, of course, bishops). Still, we ask, Why is it so?

Read more

A Reflection on the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick

In a recent post on the ministry of priests, there were a few comments that reflected both frustration and pain over the fact that a loved one had been in the hospital and, though the priest was called, he either never came or did not come at once.

To be sure, it is lamentable that any priest would receive a request for a visit and do nothing in response to it.

The Church as a whole, and pastors in particular, have obligations to the faithful who are seriously ill, especially if they are in danger of death. That said, there are very real difficulties that priests face in responding immediately and personally to all requests. In this post I would like to ponder some of the pertinent issues involved in sick calls, especially to the hospitalized.

Read more

A last chance for lost souls

Father Z with some important comments on Anointing of the Sick

The primary means for forgiveness of post-baptismal mortal sins is clearly the Sacrament of Penance.  That doesn’t mean that the Sacrament of Anointing does not forgive mortal sins.

In short, if a person incapable of confessing his mortal sins is anointed, his mortal sins are in that anointing forgiven.  However, on recovery he must make a confession of sins when possible.  In that respect it is similar to General Absolution.

I can’t say everything there is to say about this sacrament here, but I can offer some comments.

The effects of the Sacrament of Anointing or Anointing of the Sick or, sometimes, Extreme Unction, are:

  • To increase sanctifying grace in a moment of great need (danger of death)
  • To console the person
  • To strengthen against temptation
  • To heal the body
  • To forgive mortal sins when a person is incapable of confessing them or is unaware of his state of soul

Read the entire article

Related content:

“Those in danger of death are presumed to be repentant…”

A last chance for lost souls

USA Today article on “Last Rights” a bit vague, but worth reading

CLEVELAND — In days long gone, Roman Catholic priests regularly made deathbed house calls, even in the middle of the night with little notice, to pray over the dying and anoint them with holy oils.

The candlelight ritual, popularly known as last rites, continues in hospitals, nursing homes, hospice houses and private homes. But it happens less frequently because priests — the only ones who can perform the service — are in short supply.

Although fewer Catholics are seeking what’s officially known as the sacrament of anointing of the sick, those who do want it could be at risk of reaching their final hours without the prayer-whispering presence of a Roman-collared priest unless they plan ahead.

Link

Editor’s note: For most … especially we Catholics … there’s really no excuse for waiting until the very last moment to make things right with God. The best advice is to always be prepared … and be always “ready to travel” … since you never know when you might be called.

The only time-tested, dependable and approved way to accomplish that is through regular, full, and faithful participation in all of the work, worship, sacraments and devotions of the Catholic Church.

In a “pinch” never forget the practical value of a good “Act of Contrition” … an “Our Father” … “Hail Mary” … and a “Glory Be” … with a prayer to St. Michael “thrown in” for good measure, whether for you … or for someone you love.  

Suggested additional reading:

Anointing of the Sick, Last Sacraments, and the Apostolic Pardon

A last chance for lost souls

What’s so special about a Roman Catholic priest?

The Basis For All Seven Sacraments Can Be Found In the Bible

Baptism in Holy Scripture

Mt. 3:1-17: 1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” 4 Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair, and a leather girdle around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then went out to him Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 7  But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit that befits repentance, 9 and do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” 13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened  and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him; 17 and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, “This is my beloved Son,  with whom I am well pleased.”

Mt. 28:16-20: 16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshipped him; but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”

Read more

What Are “Last Rites”?

Q: What Are “Last Rites”?

A: Catholicism has always been a very practical faith, with grace giving sacraments that are appropriate for every key aspect of our human existence, including death.

Those who are ill, or in danger of death, benefit from the sacraments of Anointing, Reconciliation, and Holy Communion, which are often accompanied by a special type of indulgence, called the Apostolic Pardon.

The Apostolic Pardon  (Apostolic Blessing) must be administered by a priest. The pardon does not forgive sins. It typically makes time in Purgatory unnecessary. Many of today’s priests don’t routinely administer the Pardon, so you may need to specifically request it. I suggest you print it out and keep a copy nearby.

Here’s the text:

By the Faculty which the Apostolic See has given me, I grant you a plenary indulgence for the remission of all your sins, and I bless you. In the Name of the Father and the Son + and the Holy Sprit. Amen.

Receipt of these powerful spiritual resources acts to help perfect one’s relationship with the Almighty, by finally reconciling body and soul with God.

If death is the result, than there should be little concern about divine judgment or eternal damnation, since the primary mission of the church, the primary purpose of the sacraments, and the express will of God, is salvation.

If the person rallies and recovers, there’s a very good possibility of a permanent spiritual conversion.

These “Last Rites” may be repeated as often as is necessary, and they are typically also very comforting for loved ones, who remain behind.

Click here for complete details