Thursday, 7 November 2013

Series on the Sacraments Part 7 - Extreme Unction

We've now reached the final sacrament in our series, Extreme Unction. I recently heard a very informative sermon on this, so this article will partly be based on it. Firstly, St. Thomas Aquinas speaks of its definition in the book, Catechism of St. Thomas Aquinas, "The fifth Sacrament is Extreme Unction. Its matter is olive oil blessed by the bishop. This Sacrament should only be received by those who are in danger of death through sickness. They are to be anointed in the places of the five senses: that is, on the eyes, because it is the organ of the sense of sight; on the ears, because of hearing; on the nostrils, because of smell; on the lips, because of taste or speech; and on the hands because of touch, and on the feet because of walking.[30] The form of this Sacrament is this: "Through this anointing and through His most divine mercy, may the Lord forgive thee whatever thou hast committed through sight" (and so on for the other senses). The minister of this Sacrament is the priest. The effect of this Sacrament is a medicine for both mind and body.[31]

In our modern age, there are two misconceptions with this sacrament. First, that it's only for the last second of your life and you can only resort to it when your absolutely sure you're dying. This is not true, it can be received in danger of death. For example, if someone has been diagnosed with a deadly illness, or a soldier is going into battle, they can receive Extreme Unction. In waiting for the last second of the person's life we risk them dying and missing this wonderful sacrament! This sacrament provides the necessary graces for true repentance, gives them the strength to go from this life to the next, and can even heal their sickness. God has given us this wonderful sacrament, why risk not receiving it, or God forbid, prevent someone who would like it. How kind God is to give us all we need for our journey to the next life. He provides what we need always, just as He told us in Matthew Chapter 6 verse 33, "Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you."

The second misconception is that we can receive this sacrament whenever we feel sick, or if we think we're getting old. This idea gave this sacrament it's modern name, "sacrament of the sick." Now although this sacrament is for the sick, that is, the people dying, it isn't just for people who have a cold or who think they're coming on with age. Yes, it's meant for the person in danger of death, but it can't be used whenever we feel like it. 

 Nonetheless, we can see the utter kindness and tenderness God has for us. He provides everything for us from birth to death! Let us thank Him for giving us all we need, and pray that we may receive all the graces which are held within these seven sacraments! God bless!

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Stay tuned for my next series of articles: Devotions to Our Lord