QUAERITUR: Everyone going forward at a “healing Mass” for Anointing of the Sick

From a reader:

I am a graduate student at ___, and over the past few weeks have received two emails (one related to the tragedy this past weekend) for “Healing Masses” in which (quoting the one) “priests…will be available to administer the Sacrament of the Sick–a special anointing to those who wish to receive it.”

Maybe I’m wrong but shouldn’t a person actually /be sick/ in order to receive the sacrament? The idea of a come one, come all approach to a sacrament like that seems…wrong. Are there any rules on who can or should receive the anointing?

The law is pretty clear.

Can.  1004 §1. The anointing of the sick can be administered to a member of the faithful who, having reached the use of reason, begins to be in danger due to sickness or old age.

In danger?  Danger of what?  Danger of… feeling bad?   I think not.  You don’t just throw around words like “danger”.  This means in danger of death.

And there is the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

1514 “The anointing of the sick is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death. Hence, as soon as anyone of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for him to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived”

Common point?  Danger of death!

Sacrosanctum Concilium says:

SC 73. “Extrema Unctio”, quae etiam et melius “Unctio infirmorum” vocari potest, non est Sacramentum eorum tantum qui in extremo vitae discrimine versantur. Proinde tempus opportunum eam recipiendi iam certe habetur cum fidelis incipit esse in periculo mortis propter infirmitatem vel senium.

In periculo mortis… in danger of death.

The recent and widespread practice of anointing anyone who is “not feeling well”, or even “along with a sick person but who doesn’t want to be left out”, is not consistent with a plain reading of the law of the CCC.

One can be in danger of death for many reasons.  For example, someone who is about to undergo some surgery requiring a general anesthesia could be in danger of death.  Someone about to be executed or go into battle are in danger of death, but those are not considered occasions for the sacrament because they are external to the person.  Once damage is inflicted through a wound and danger of death is obvious, that’s another matter.

Moreover, there are also persistent, chronic conditions which, while they may not lead to immediate death, nevertheless put one in danger of death (e.g., the onset of Alzheimer’s).

The sniffles, or having the collywobbles or being crapulous do not fit the criteria.  Neither do certain illnesses which, while debilitating, are not usually causes of death (e.g., arthritis, obsessive-compulsive disorders, being a liberal – okay… I slipped that in there for fun…).

In addition, I will remind everyone that, unless you are incapacitated, the Sacrament of Anointing should be received in the state of grace!

If you are not in the state of grace, and if you are not incapacitated (unable to communicate sorrow for your sins) it is doubtful that you benefit from the sacramental graces the sacrament is to confer (i.e. strengthening in body and soul, possible forgiveness of sins).

Therefore, go to confession before being anointed.

If you are lying on the sidewalk, unconscious after a bomb attack, you don’t have to go to confession first.  Right?

Anointing is not like the Sacrament of Baptism, which removes the stain of original and actual sins and confers an indelible character.  Confirmation and Holy Orders can be received in the state of sin and they still confer an indelible character.  If, however, they are received in the state of sin, the recipient doesn’t benefit from the graces of the sacrament until he returns to state of grace.  Morever, the recipient has committed a sacrilege in knowingly receiving a those sacraments while in mortal sin.  If you get married while not in the state of grace, you are still married!  The sacrament which is supposed to help you live a good married life more or else “dormant” in you until you are again in the state of grace.  You receive prevenient graces, of course, to help you repent of your sins and seek confession.  The same idea applies to the Sacrament of Penance: if you purposely withhold mortal sins during confession or you are not truly sorry, you don’t receive the graces the Sacrament of Penance is intended to impart (forgiveness of sins, habitual grace, strength against sinning in the future, deeper sorrow for sin, reconciliation with God and neighbor, etc.) and you commit the sin of sacrilege.  If you know you are surely not in the state of grace when receiving the Eucharist in Communion, you are not only not receiving graces from reception of the Body and Blood of the Lord, you bring on yourself even greater condemnation.  You commit the sin of sacrilege by knowingly receiving Communion while in mortal sin.

There is a helpful distinction of “sacraments of the living” and “sacraments of the dead”.  The “sacraments of the dead” are Baptism and Penance (because you are dead in sin and they bring you to life again).  All the others are “sacraments of the living” (because you must be alive in the state of grace to receive them).

The Sacrament of Anointing straddles these two categories in one instance: when the person cannot express sorrow for sins and receive absolution from the priest.  If a priest anoints a person who is incapable of response and in danger of death, the sacrament can not only possibly heal (according to God’s will), and strengthen the soul in the last moments of life, but also forgive sins.

Again, from the CCC:

1532 “The special grace of the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick has as its effects: the uniting of the sick person to the passion of Christ, for his own good and that of the whole Church; the strengthening, peace, and courage to endure in a Christian manner the sufferings of illness or old age; the forgiveness of sins, if [IF] the sick person was not able to obtain it through the sacrament of penance; the restoration of health, if it is conducive to the salvation of his soul; the preparation for passing over to eternal life”.

Remember: You commit a sacrilege by receiving a sacrament (of the living) in the state of sin!  That includes Anointing (unless you are incapacitated).  The two sacraments you can receive when not in the state of grace are Baptism and Penance (’cause that’s what they’re for).  Anointed, in certain circumstances, crosses over.

Another point, as long as I am on this.

The fact that the Sacrament of Anointing, in some circumstances, forgives mortal sins, then the only valid and licit minister of the sacrament is a sacerdos, a priest or bishop.


Neither can nuns in pantsuits with a lapel pin.  Neither can a parish volunteer. Therefore, they cannot validly anoint even when there is not danger of death.  Period.  If they attempt to anoint in the manner of a priest, they commit the sin of sacrilege for abusing the sacrament and they can incur a censure for simulation of a sacrament.

Only a priest or bishop validly administers the sacrament of anointing.

These Masses wherein everyone is invited to come forward seem to be quite widespread.  I think the argument that “everyone is sick in some way” is an abuse the sacrament.

There is such a thing as sacrilege.  Sacrilege is a sin.  It is the improper use of something or someone sacred.

Let the Sacrament of Anointing be used, and be used properly!  It need not be conferred only when danger of death is immediate.  Even the older form of the sacrament, the traditional form, can be conferred in the situations when the newer form can be, but for the right reasons.

A brave bishop should address this matter of anointing in a pastoral letter in the near future.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Jason Keener says:

    I’ve also witnessed this abuse where every person in the church was welcomed to come forward for the Anointing of the Sick. The reason given at those Masses was that even those who care for the sick need the sacrament. Of course, I did not go forward to receive the sacrament, as I was not gravely sick or in danger of death.

    Father Z, I think it would be an interesting blog post for you to explain how the Last Rites are carried out according to the ancient usage and what you like/dislike in the older and newer forms. Just an idea!

    Lastly, may we all have the opportunity to receive the Last Rites of Mother Church when our earthly lives draw to a close.

  2. persyn says:

    You have made this very clear. Crystal. Thank you, Father.

  3. TKS says:

    I had major surgery recently. Received the Sacrament in my parish prior to the surgery. The surgery was in a huge hospital in the Seattle (liberal) diocese. The next day as I was up walking around, ready to go home, a Priest came to my room and gave me the Sacrament again. I used to figure Priests knew what they were doing, but I guess not. Most places I’ve been do an Anointing of the Sick communal service about twice a year, for anyone who wants it.

  4. Jacob says:

    My parish has these Masses. I don’t go up. I have had the Sacrament though, after Mass before a major surgery several years ago.

    Father, I do have a genetic disease. Though I am not on death’s door outside of the two times I’ve had to have surgery, I have read it will most likely shorten my life significantly. Aside from what you outline in your post, does that qualify?

  5. Dr. K says:

    This is certainly a widespread abuse.

    I’d love to see Dr. Peters comment on the subject.

  6. mamajen says:

    I was in the ER recently because I became very ill during the weekend. Our priest happened to walk in, and when he spotted my husband and me in the waiting room, he came over and said he wanted to give me a blessing. He put his hand on my head and said a rather lengthy prayer. I was quite out of it at the time, so I don’t remember exactly what he said. It really meant a lot to me that he took the time. I was under no delusions that it was a sacrament, of course.

    Is something like that legitimate? And if so, couldn’t priests who insist on these healing masses do something along those lines instead (of course making it clear that it is NOT sacramental)?

  7. Kathleen10 says:

    heehee..that’s a good one Father. I never knew one could be crapulous. How apt, really.

    Superb explanation. The incredible thing is that one would ever be fully informed about such a treasure, and be the one responsible for providing it, but then still neutralize it afterward. What earthly effect wears men down to the point that the treasure is treated as casually as it is. They don’t seem to realize that the uninitiated won’t recognize the precious nature of things unless we are informed and properly disposed. Who else will tell us but our priests and bishops?

  8. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Thanks for this clarification!

    A now-retired (Deo Gratias!) priest used to encourage people to get anointed so as to be sacramentally forgiven while avoiding the embarrassment and hassle of confession. I shudder to think at how many people he misled.

  9. Bob B. says:

    Wasn’t there something about those badly hurt in combat receiving Extreme Unction by another soldier if a priest was not present? I’m trying to remember what we were told in Vietnam about this, but it’s a little foggy.

  10. acardnal says:

    Excellent report! I can’t tell you how many parishes I’m aware of have so called “healing Masses” and/or offer scheduled “anointing of the sick”. Most people attending are old but are not in imminent danger of death or undergoing a major surgery the next day! This practice is abused widely. As a priest once said, “you can die traveling by car to work or in an airplane crash but that does not qualify one for reception of the Sacrament of the Sick.”

    We got a new orthodox, well trained pastor a couple years ago. He put a stop to the the monthly First Friday Mass anointings that were occurring. This upset a number of the elderly folks. He explained that this Sacrament is for those in imminent danger of death or the real potential of death – just as you explained above – but, unfortunately, it didn’t seem to satisfy them. Curiously, I don’t think the Sacrament of Penance was frequented too much in the parish until the new priest arrived.

  11. Elizabeth M says:

    I think I’m finally beyond asking how we got ourselves into this mess. Please, please, dear priests and bishops – preach the basics and preach them clearly! We can wait to hear about social justice causes from the pulpit after you’ve taught your congregation the things they should have learned in Catechism 101. I’ve been invited to several “healing masses” by a friend and could not find the right words to explain why I was uncomfortable with it. Thank you Father Z for making it clear.

  12. Although I completely agree with the Latin practice of anointing only those in some danger of death, I think it unwise to dogmatize what is probably a disciplinary matter.

    In the Eastern Churches, Catholic as well as Orthodox, it is the practice to anoint, at the Divine Liturgy, ALL those present on certain days in Lent, most commonly on the first Monday of Lent or on the Wednesday of Holy Week. I suspect that the reason is that the anointing ceremony requires a choir and several priests. Among the those of the properly Greek tradition, e.g. the Catholic Melkites, the ceremony has been considerably simplified but is still only done in Lent and given to all present. Among the Russians, it is even more elaborate and often performed by the bishop, who visits the local parishes once a year to anoint everyone. I might add that one is expected to have gone to confession before receiving this sacrament in all the Eastern Churches.

    Even in the Latin Church the practice was diverse. In the medieval Latin uses (Italy, France, Dominicans, etc.) the rite was elaborate and required a choir. The result was that it was rarely done outside of monasteries. The only place in the West that had a no-frills, no music, one-priest rite was Milan with its Ambrosian Rite. I discuss these practices in my book _Cities of God: The Religion of the Italian Communes, 1125-1325_ (Cornell UP, 2005).

  13. Pingback: QUAERITUR: Everyone going forward at a “healing Mass” for Anointing of the Sick | Fr. Z’s Blog (olim: What Does The Prayer Really Say?) | therasberrypalace

  14. APX says:

    While many priests seem to abuse this sacrament, my mom had quite a different experience before she was going in to have a brain tumor removed last year. She was scared so I told her to go to Confession and to get annointing of the sick. The priest told her she didn’t need the sacrament because he believed she’d “be fine”. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot! This was the same priest who refused to hear my confession after being away for 10 years because it was not during his scheduled time of once in a blue moon for 30 minutes on a Saturday. (I have since spiritually adopted him and pray for his conversion, or failing that removed from pastoral duties into something like administration).

    Instead I had my priest here offer Mass for her the day before her surgery and I spent the time she was in surgery in front of the Blessed Sacrament praying the Rosary and Litany of the Saints (the long traditional version) until I got the text that she was out of surgery.

    Unfortunately, the privacy laws here prevent hospital staff from getting a priest to give you last rites/ annointing of the sick, even if they know you personally. Lame for those of us who might not have friends or family available to notify a priest.

  15. Lepidus says:

    This “everybody gets it” is another example of the “give them and inch and they take a foot” problem. The previous practice being that only people really close to death would get the sacrament. The Church rightly wanted to stress that this is a helpful sacrament, takes away the name “Last Rites” and recommends earlier reception. So far, so good. Then the lefties jump on it with the anybody who is sick, come and get it. This is why so many of us fear what Pope Francis is doing. Not that he himself is doing anything wrong, its just that certain individuals will jump on it an excuse to expand their level of liturgy abuse.

    Onto my question…. Does anybody know the Church teaching on the full effects of the Sacrament? I thought I heard recently that if you went to Confession and received the Anointing and the fell over dead, you went straight to Heaven – no Purgatory necessary. It seems like a stretch to me, but …..

  16. bourgja says:

    About 25 years ago, my parish priest invited everyone present to come up for the anointing of the sick. He was assisted by a deacon. They used a completely invalid formula during the anointing. I wrote a letter and the practice stopped, but the priest was not too happy with me…

  17. JaneC says:

    Fr. Augustine is right about the tradition in the East, although the ritual for anointing is no it always so elaborate. In the Ruthenian Church, the ritual is long and definitely envisions the presence of at least two priests, but can be done with only one. It is given to everyone present on Divine Liturgy on the Wednesday of Holy Week, but is also given privately at other times, and for many reasons–acute or persistent illnesses, including mental illness, and even before embarking on a long journey.

  18. APX says:


    With regards to the sacrament, it does not remove temporal punishment due to sin. However, assuming the person is properly disposed to receive a plenary indulgence, the priest can impart the apostolic blessing, though I’m not sure that would work in your scenario. I have also heard priests speak of the apostolic blessing as a guarantee get out of purgatory free blessing and that “when they give that person the apostolic blessing and they die, he can be certain that person is in heaven.” I asked a number of priests this and they denied such claims and that the same rules applied for other plenary indulgences. There seems to be some confusion about things surrounding sickness, death, and the last four things.

  19. Marie Teresa says:

    With all due respect, the other extreme is no better.
    Our pastor …
    1. denied the Sacrament to a terminally ill parishioner, and
    2. discussed that person’s medical diagnosis with someone else in the parish. The priest and this other person (neither of whom has medical experience) decided that the parishioner with the terminal diagnosis needed to “think positive.”

  20. majuscule says:


    My parish started having healing services a few years ago:

    On First Fridays, Annointing of the Sick is incorporated into Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Adoration begins following the 8:00 am Mass and extends throughout the day. At 6:30 pm, it concludes with Anointing of the Sick celebrated for all those seeking the healing power of Christ, followed by the Benediction.

    However, they add that “when family members go into the hospital or move to a nursing facility, you may also make a request.”

    I’ve witnessed anointing of the genuinely ill–my mom (in her 90s) who had come home from the hospital and was bedridden and under 24 hour care. I called her parish priest who came to the house although she had not been to Mass in years. He heard her confession, anointed her, gave her the first communion she had received in years. Today she is up and around and I no longer fear for her soul.

    Then there was another family member…his sister brought her priest to the rehab facility where he was recovering. The priest did not hear the patient’s confession but did anoint him. The patient’s physical health improved but…well, I will leave it at that.

  21. Sissy says:

    Gregg the Obscure said: “A now-retired (Deo Gratias!) priest used to encourage people to get anointed so as to be sacramentally forgiven while avoiding the embarrassment and hassle of confession.”

    My experience was the same, and this is the first that I’ve heard it isn’t correct. When I was still in RCIA, I had to have surgery. My priest suggested the Rite of Healing beforehand, telling me that it was a sacrament available to non-Catholics. He told me that an added benefit was that it would “take away all my sins, just like baptism or confession” and would make my first confession “much easier”. Wow. Thanks for clarifying this issue, Fr. Z.

  22. Knittycat says:

    The priest at my parish does this regularly too. It bothers me greatly that he does it, and that the deacon (who is our kind of informal RCIA instructor for my fiance and me) kind of pissily informed me that it was not ‘last rights’ but ‘anointing of the sick’ and that calling it last rights made it seem like you just got them before you died (Duh?)
    What can I do about this? Anything?

  23. Knittycat says:

    In fact, Fr G has announced from the pulpit that it’s for spiritual healing too. :/

  24. Suburbanbanshee says:

    To be fair, some parishes have enough elderly people in danger of death that there’s a fair amount of turnover, and so the Anointing of the Sick being scheduled regularly in those parishes is probably a good plan. [No. It really isn’t.]

    It should be added that there are sacramentals that are oils (like the oil from the St. Joseph shrine up in Canada) which are perfectly okay for the laity to use, and which are often associated with healing of the sick. It’s just not the same as the Sacrament.

    However, if the parish priest can make clear what the difference between Sacrament and sacramental, it might be a good thing to give people who are sick but not in danger of death some kind of regular devotion, with sacramentals, to replace overuse of Anointing of the Sick. There’s no shame in prayers for health. It would be generous and kind to use the Church’s riches to help people.

  25. abasham says:

    Father, since there has been a lot of talk of mental illness as we debate gun legislation, perhaps there can be some talk of it here. Do you think that someone with a mental health issue, such as types of depression, bipolar disorder, etc. can receive the secrament at any time? I certainly believe that those with mental health issues could certainly benefit from the graces of the sacrament, and while I don’t want to imply that everyone with a mental illness such as depression is in danger of death, isn’t it logical that the graces of the sacrament might help them be *less* in danger, and therefore it should be made available to them?

    [I don’t think someone who is depressed or bi-polar is necessarily by that fact in danger of death. It seems to me that mental illness by itself is not reason enough to be anointed. Seeking the priest’s blessing, on the other hand, is always a good idea, whether you are sick or not.]

  26. Sandra_in_Severn says:

    I have received this twice. The first was after a “minor” surgery that I was supposed to be hospitalized overnight, I was there for 4 nights. I had a bad reaction to the anesthesia used. I had some interesting “burn” marks on my chest, and the “gas-passer” (nick name for anesthesiologist) kept apologizing to me and my husband at parish events… I scared a lot of people, including our parish priest that visited me in the hospital. In short, my heart had stopped and they did not know if there were any long term effects at the time.

    The second time was the day before I was going for a PET scan and biopsy of a “lesion” found on an x-ray of my lungs. (found to be scar tissue from pneumonia). I went to our pastor’s office, he did confession first, then the sacrament of the sick.

  27. Jeannie_C says:

    About a year ago my husband and I attended a “Healing Mass” at our church. I had not been to Confession, did not understand at the time it was required, received Annointing for a medical condition which was highly problematic but not life-threatening. [Sometimes it is hard to make a call on how sick or injured you have to be before you are in “danger”. Of course when serious complications arise, the conditions have changed and become clearer.] Soon afterward events unfolded leading to a dramatic improvement in my condition which was unexplained other than attributing it to the benefits received from the Annointing. I understand at this time your explanation of why I should not have gone up to receive, however I cannot deny, and will not attribute my improvement to blind luck. In future I will follow the rules and guidelines you have set forth, Fr. Z., but I do not believe in my case that I did not receive the full benefits of this Sacrament. God made an exception to the rule in my case for which I am truly grateful.

  28. Matt R says:

    This is another reason why EMHCs should not be regularly assigned pastoral care to the sick. Only a priest can judge whether a person should receive Anointing of the Sick, and only a priest is able to regularly hear the patient’s Confession before and in the time after Anointing of the Sick.

  29. ReginaMarie says:

    Echoing what Fr. Augustine Thompson & JaneC said, the theology of the Eastern Catholic Churches is that the sacramental mystery of Holy Anointing/Holy Unction provides both physical & spiritual healing with holy oil blessed by the Holy Spirit. As they said, it is most commonly celebrated during Holy Week on Holy Wednesday evening, commemorating Christ’s anointing with myrrh. Everyone in the parish in good ecclesiastical standing may be anointed with the holy oil for the healing of spiritual & bodily ills. The oil carries God’s grace both to renew the body & to cleanse the spirit. The service follows the apostolic tradition mentioned in the New Testament: “…let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven” (James 5:14-15).
    Holy unction is a sacramental mystery of great comfort to the faithful, providing uplifting & asking for patience to accept the will of God whatever the physical outcome.

  30. Lucas Whittaker says:

    I have a story; I will “Reader’s Digest it” as much as possible. I suffer from what would best be characterized as congenital anatomical anomalies: my skeleton “ain’t” what it’s “s’posed” to be. This has made life challenging for me ever since I was quite young; I was tough, though, and strong. Then, slowly, pain began to take my life over to the point that my wife and I had to sell our farm and move in with a close friend in order to survive without my income. I was working at first, but not for long. Moving the story along: I was at Saturday morning Mass with this friend, but not really doing well physically, when the priest announced that he would anoint whoever was in the front pew after Mass.

    What had saved me and kept me happy up to this point was my strong desire to abandon myself to the will of God; I had no inkling of praying for healing beyond the occasional, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. . .” (I might have said this three times over the past 8 years). I was not even considering approaching the sacrament until my friend more or less pushed me into the pew. I was, by the way, at the point that I could barely walk, and was never without pain. As the priest conferred the sacrament I prayed for God’s will to be done, even if that meant not finding any answer to my problems and not finding relief from the pain (I had already been to roughly 25 doctors). With the sacrament now conferred I went home with my friend and because exhausted, fell immediately to sleep for hours.

    When I awoke I felt different somehow. I was no longer in pain and my former strength had returned. I could leap up multiple stair steps at one time and later on in the week discovered that I could carry another friend’s 8-year-old boy on my shoulders for long distances. Without pain! I knew that I had been given an immense gift of grace in that sacrament. Like other times in my life, I also knew that God’s love for me was very real; God did not leave me suffering because of anything negative.

    This good effect lasted for three solid months! I felt great! However, I was keenly aware, by way of intuition, that God had not healed me, but rather he had given me a break as an expression of his ineffable love for me. I knew that the pain was a symptom of things in my body–my skeleton in this case–that had to be corrected. I was quite aware that spiritual life is the only lasting life and therefore the first in order of consideration: I was a sinner who struggled to love, but through these painfully debilitating experiences I was slowly learning greatness of soul. The pain returned. I went to sleep at the end of the three months that mention above, and awoke the next morning fully aware that I needed help—something was clearly wrong. If the experience of pain never returned I know for a fact that I would not understand what charity—authentic love—is.

    By another amazing grace of divine providence I met a world-class surgeon at a parish party that I attended with my wife who later reconstructed my spine and made me aware of other problems that required surgical intervention. Since then I have had multiple surgeries, many of which have helped, but because I was born with an anomalous anatomy [bones at wrong angles, joints that don’t work smoothly because they are misshapen] my reality is congenitally chronic suffering about which nothing can be done. This is a life-altering challenge.

    But through it all there are three things that are critical for me to know. God loves me. My reality is his will. His will is my happiness, even if life is hard at times [okay, three things]. For me this means that even though I was blessed with this gift of healing grace through the sacrament of the anointing of the sick it would be absolutely wrong for me to shift my focus toward a desire to be healed again. Such an attitude would be fatal for me because I would never be happy. God’s will is my happiness even if that means that chronic pain, illness, or loss become a part of my reality, my life. We can only heal spiritually and psychologically by embracing reality, which leads to peace amid life’s storms, and joy in the face of loss.

    For others who might be anxious because of pain, loss, depression, illness, I can promise you that you will find peace if you look to Jesus on the Cross and ponder the mystery of God’s kenosis [basically, self emptying]; don’t let your soul grow weary or lose courage but, instead, keep putting one foot in front of the other while knowing that God never deprives you of his supporting grace (cf. Heb 12:3). God is calling those who suffer to a deeper love.

    So there is an abundant outpouring of grace that can be received for the purpose of healing according to God’s will in the sacrament of the sick, but our own desire should always be to accept God’s will even when that means that we might be deprived of our health in a challenging way. The great Alexandrian theologian, Origen, helps me through his words to prayerfully embrace poor health and sickness. Addressing the Lord he says, “You chastise every son whom you accept (cf. Prov 3:12). I beg you, then, chastise me too, and do not put me with those who are not chastised. . . I am ready for chastisement. That is, if you want to inflict poor health on me, and send me sickness, I will bear it patiently. For I know that I am not only worthy to pay for my sins through sickness, but I desire to be purified by every affliction as long as I am preserved from eternal sufferings and punishment. . . If it is your pleasure that I lose all my faculties, let them go, as long as I do not lose my soul in your sight” (trans Robert Daly. Paragraph 924).

  31. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Jeannie C — Well, you didn’t know, so you had no fault in the matter; and sure, God can use these occasions to spread graces. Same thing with people who blindly head up for Communion or Confession without knowing better.

    But that doesn’t make it the normal thing to do, of course. And those who know better and fail to instruct others bear a lot of culpability; it’s like letting kids play in traffic and assuming nothing bad will happen. Well, maybe it won’t, but that doesn’t make it safe.

  32. Jeannie_C says:

    A thought – The Canon Father Z quote appears to be subtly different on the Vatican website English pages?


    where it says:

    “Can. 1004 §1. The anointing of the sick can be administered to a member of the faithful who, having reached the use of reason, begins to be in danger due to sickness or old age.”

    Just a question….

  33. frjim4321 says:

    I find this a fascinating issue. Remember when the bishop came here for the communal anointing of the sick at a mass, his MC wanted to make sure that too many people would come up. “There should not be children coming up, only sick people.” The fact was that several of the young people actually DO have life threatening diseases that I knew about. Very healthy-looking youthful people can have (1) life threatening allergies, (2) diabetes, (3) pending genetic tests for fatal diseases such as Huntingtons and worse, (4) drug-resistant depression with suicidal ideation, (5) pending surgeries, (6) aut0-immunes diseases, (7) SDI’s, (8) heart valve problems. I was amazed by the ignorance and arrogance of the bishops MC assuming that a young, healthy-looking person had no business receiving the anointing of the sick. I was offended by his assumption that he knew the people here better than I did.

    [You make a good point about age and appearance.]

  34. lmo1968 says:

    I received the sacrament twice in the past year, the second time just before undergoing cancer surgery that resulted in my lungs collapsing during the operation. The first time I received the sacrament was while I was hospitalized for a condition that didn’t seem to be life threatening. Shortly after my anointing, I had a severe allergic reaction to a substance in my IV. That sacrament might have saved my life. I’m very glad the priest who anointed me wasn’t legalistic about my seemingly non-life threatening condition. [“Legalistic” is a buzz word often used by anti-nomians.]

  35. catholicmidwest says:

    This problem is even bigger than what’s being discussed here. Catholics have a tendency to try to cram their whole religious lives into a 45-minute liturgy because that’s the only way some Catholics understand their religion. The consequence of this is that you can be in a hospital undergoing life-threatening surgery and never receive the sacrament of the sick even when you’ve asked for it repeatedly. This happens EVEN IN CATHOLIC HOSPITALS. All this while people are getting the sacrament of the sick for their hay fever or false teeth or whatever, outside the hospital. This needs fixing.

  36. John F. says:

    To quote my mother when the “chaplain” at a hospital responded to her request for a priest and anointing prior to surgery she explained “Sister I didn’t ask for someone to hold my hand on the way to Hell, I requested someone to save me from Hell.” She then notified the staff that she was not going into surgery until a priest anointed her.

  37. Lucas Whittaker says:

    Father Jim: I hear what you are saying. I’m the young(ish) healthy-looking person with a host of chronic problems that burden my life that gets overlooked. The situation of the Good Samaritan sometimes appears to be an unsolvable problematic.

  38. Rachel K says:

    I tend to agree with those saying that there is too much scruple about giving the sacrament in appropriate cases, and with Fr Augustine’s point about dogma/discipline. Our son had open heart surgery at 6months for a potentially fatal defect; the operation carries a 10% mortality. We requested a priest friend to give him the sacrament before surgery, arranging this proved tricky as he was not chaplain at that hospital, but he came and by a quirk of fate this anointing was filmed by the BBC and became part of a documentary on chaplaincy work. Afterwards, our priest was nervous that there would be repercussions for him regarding the decision to go ahead with anointing, especially with the TV connection ; he was unsure because our little one was innocent and so sin free, was the sacrament valid/appropriate?
    I sincerely believe in the material health benefits of the anointing, aside from the spiritual ones. Our baby was very ill after the surgery with unforeseen complications which were life threatening, and the graces of the sacrament certainly helped his physical healing. After his birth 6 months earlier, a difficult caesarean where baby’s physical state was unknown beforehand but there were signs of distress and physical problems, the hospital chaplain anointed me. I am a slow healer and I felt God’s healing in me, I was amazed to be able to get up and feel full of energy almost immediately, especially after a debilitating pregnancy.
    The scriptural basis for the sacrament does not mention danger of death, simply to go to the priest in illness and be anointed. It should be mor available than simply in danger of death, and maybe ther is a broad scope for when it is used.

  39. MikeM says:

    I think that it sends the wrong signal when people are told to receive Anointing over a cold. I think that it encourages people to view the sacrament like it’s magic. “If I get anointed, God will get rid of this cold.” (And, what will they think if it turns out to be a long-lasting cold?) At the same time, it obscures the most important elements of the sacrament… it takes the focus off spiritual preparedness for death.

  40. MikeM says:

    As an addendum to my previous comment, I DO think that the tone of the CCC on the matter encourages an accommodating reading of the law… there’s no need to calculate the probability of someone’s death. It might be appropriate even before a relatively routine surgery if it’s desired. But, I’m in my early twenties, in all around good health, and I’ve been encouraged to get it for seasonal sniffles. By that approach to “danger of death,” we should be receiving it constantly because we just might get struck by a rogue bolt of lightening!

  41. Lucas Whittaker says:

    I meant to use “insoluble” instead of “unsolvable”. Ahh! It’s late, of course:

    “The situation of the Good Samaritan sometimes appears to be an INSOLUBLE problematic.” And it does. . .

    @MikeM: For what it’s worth I was once told by a canon lawyer that in cases where Canon Law and the Catechism differs the Canon Law trumps the Catechism.

    A point that I would like to add to the conversation is that I was heard the idea that every mass is a healing Mass, because we receive Jesus in the Eucharist: “Surely he has borne our sicknesses, and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4), “By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24). In the context of this thread then, when we need Jesus to lift us up in our suffering or sorrow, or to bear our cross with us, we need only to assist at Mass or receive the Eucharist, sacramentally speaking–to ignore for now the life of grace in prayer. When there is no danger of death then we have abundant help in Jesus himself. When we do need to receive the anointing of the sick we are aided by the grace that it confers at the appropriate time.

  42. RafkasRoad says:

    Dear Fr. Jim, you make a very important point.

    Additionally so do those who have commented here who are living with disability or medical condition that impacts their lives but is not readily visible to ‘outsiders’.

    I’ll give an example; back in my SDA days there was a lovely young couple at the congregation I attended; she was a classical ballerina and dance instructor (yes, very very very unusual in SDA circles in light of all the proscriptions on dance, especially considering the fact that we were not the most liberal of congregations). He was a computer boffin who also contributed to the audio-visual management for the congregation, alternated with singing in our choir. he happened to have type I diabetes and epilepsy (of the grand mal variety; excuse spelling). To see him, you’d think a fit, healthy, bright young man under thirty…well, to our horror, around ten years ago now or so, he passed away unexpectedly and very quickly; took a seizure in the bathroom, hitting his head on the way down and died there on the floor just like that (and this was a young man who managed both conditions very well). if a young man like him were in one of our parishes, in my thinking, it would seem stingy to deny such as he the sacrament; furthermore , these conditions make death a far greater reality than for folk without them.

    Additionally, for folk living with significant disability e.g. vision impairment that prevents driving, reading print, travelling safely without cane, guide dog or other mobility aid, those with spinal injury that leaves them somewhere on the paralysis spectrum, those with cerebral palsy etc be the conditions acquired in adulthood or congenital, sometimes healing becomes an acute need; not necessarily for the affliction to be lifted, but for the patience to cope with the frustrations, the impact that such has on one’s daily life, even if one is ‘managing well’, to bear the ignorance and judgement of the supposed ‘able bodied’…these things can be and are trials that are a part of living with such disability that can cause deep pain and vexation…yes, graces are imparted through reception of the Eucharist when in a state of grace…but…one can at times need more…and I haven’t even mentioned the private hell that can be the lot endured by folk navigating the valley floor of mental illness…

    Just a few thoughts,

    Aussie Marounite.

  43. Lucas Whittaker says:

    Dear Aussie Mrounite/RafkasRoad,

    You said,
    “…yes, graces are imparted through reception of the Eucharist when in a state of grace…but…one can at times need more…” –Are you sure that you don’t want to pull a “U-ey” on this point?

    Sacrificium eucharisticum totius cultus et vitae christianae est culmen et fons (cf. canon 897).

  44. jbas says:

    Just for clarification, the term “Last Rites” includes the sacraments of Penance, Unction and Viaticum, as well as the Apostolic Pardon. The term does not refer only to Unction of the Sick.

  45. Marysann says:

    I am glad to hear that Rachel K’s baby boy’s heart surgery was successful, but I have always been taught that the forgiveness of sin was one of its effects of the Anointing of the Sick, and that children under the age of reason could not receive this sacrament because they were incapable of committing sin. I was taught that children under the age of reason who were in danger of death were confirmed, and that priests had the authority to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation in these circumstances without special permission. I looked this up in the Catechism, and found nothing about it in the section on the Anointing of the Sick, but paragraph 1307 in section about Confirmation states that “For centuries, Latin custom has indicated “the age of discretion” as the reference point for receiving Confirmation. But in danger of death children should be confirmed even if they have not yet attained the age of discretion.” Could someone who knows more than I please straighten me out on this.

  46. heway says:

    Thank you for the comments of those who have recognized the ‘grace’ received in the anointing. As a nurse, I have seen these responses in the aged and the response of sick
    newborns from Baptism. When my husband and I would go out for lunch, or whatever with our parish priest, my Joe would always ask for his blessing before we departed. I confess to be one of those who would always be happy to be anointed..if prepared.

  47. Eowyn22 says:

    Marysann, I believe you are generally correct! I can’t remember the date of the post, but I think Dr. Peters may have written about that exact subject on his blog at one point.

  48. Blog Goliard says:

    It seems clear that violation of the norms carefully detailed by Fr. Z are widespread.

    It also seems clear that said violations are widely seen as compassionate and pastoral, while adhering to the Church’s laws is seen as mean and small-minded.

    I’ve been around long enough to know how this story ends. Rome will cave, the decision to defy legitimate authority will be vindicated, and what had been formerly proscribed will eventually be not only tolerated but mandatory.


    I do not say this only out of despair or crankiness. I’ve seen this scenario play out enough times that I’m wondering whether an insistence on following the rules genuinely makes one a chump at best, and at worst, dead to the workings of the Holy Spirit.

  49. Gail F says:

    This is a fascinating discussion! I particularly thank Fr. Augustine for the information on how it is done in the Greek Churches. It sounds to me as though it OUGHT to be used for extreme circumstances — but that those can be interpreted various ways, and that it is not necessarily ONLY for extreme circumstances. There seems to be some disciplinary leeway, but because it’s so undefined it invites abuse.
    We have one of these Masses every year, and although our pastor says it is for people with life-threatening and/or chronic illnesses, some years, pretty much everyone goes up. Of course you often can’t tell if someone has a chronic illness, but hat seems to me to be something of an abuse! I went up once, before I had surgery to remove polyps in my sinuses that had given me almost constant headaches, so bad that often I could barely think, and I had toddlers to take care of… Sitting in the pews, I realized that if I had not been able to have that surgery I probably would have ended up like one of those Victorian women confined to their beds with terrible headaches people thought were nerves — a chronic illness for certain. I doubt that meets Fr. Z’s criteria [WHOSE CRITERIA? Don’t think about trying to make me into the bad guy here.] but it seemed serious at the time! Since then, though, I have stayed in my seat.

  50. Gail F says:

    Catholicmidwest: Are you from Pittsburgh? You wrote “This needs fixing,” which a Pittsburgh way to talk.

  51. Eraser says:

    Gail, I’m from Pittsburgh & people say, “This needs fixed” – grammatically incorrect, but it’s become part of the “local dialect” for many. Also, a native would never identify himself as being from the Midwest, despite what New Yorkers think… ; )

  52. pontiacprince says:

    “Bout time someone did a real article on this sacrament. Another point about it is to ask the priest to impart the Apostolic Blessing. A priest friend of mine recently asked me what that was!!!Thank you for a great article.

  53. Eraser,

    I am a born New Yorker, and I assure you: the Midwest starts at Newark . . . ;-D

  54. Kathy C says:

    Fr. Z, I don’t understand why someone going into a battle, or even about to be executed, would not be an appropriate subject for this sacrament. I don’t really know what “external to the person” means.

    Thank you,


  55. InHisImage says:

    I highly doubt that the anointing of the sick is being offered at the Healing Mass. Perhaps the one who sent the student an e-mail misunderstood what occurs an the purpose of the Healing Mass. But, if you would like to take a look, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith releasedArdens felicitates, an instruction on prayers for healing. In this document, the CDF notes that confusion of the faithful ought to be avoided in distinguishing from the anointing of the sick, as the healing mass deals with the charism of healing

  56. catholicmidwest says:

    Gail, no. I’m from what we always called the Midwest here, but what is probably really the North Central part of the country. It’s a long story but my family is all over the country now, and originally from “out East” and “down South.” I sit in the woods of the north with a tall stack of books nowadays.

  57. chantgirl says:

    John F- You have a point about hospitals. A few years ago, I found out that my great aunt was dying in the hospital a few states away. Actually, she was being dehydrated to death in a Catholic hospital. Anyway, she was Catholic and had raised her children Catholic, and none of her children asked for a priest to anoint her. I called up to the nurse’s station and told the nurse that I was a relative, and that the woman was Catholic, and asked for a priest to come give her last rites. I made sure to say that I wanted a priest, not a nun or lay chaplain. In these times, I don’t think we can always expect that a priest will be called if we are in the hospital, or that we will be given a funeral Mass. We need to make some advance preparations. I know of a smart elderly woman who died, and left a good amount of money to her local parish in her will on the condition that she be given a requiem Mass. That parish hadn’t had a latin Mass in decades, but they sure brought a priest in to say one when money was on the line!

  58. acricketchirps says:

    Another thing about youngsters: before my nephew went helicopter para-skiing in the Andes, we strongly recommended XTREME! Unction.

  59. Veronica says:

    But Father! But Father! How about those “charismatics” annointing people with oil and praying for them?

    P.S.: LOL! I so wanted to say “but father, but father…” Perfect opportunity! xD

  60. THREEHEARTS says:

    Cardinal Ratzinger, under the authority of his office as prefect of the congregation of the def of the faith wrote instructions for what a healing mass is. Archbishop Emeritua, Adam Exner wrote , just after, that a parish must keep a list of those qualified by age or infirmity for the sacrament of extreme unction and only those were to be anointed. The holiness movement got around this by having it parish by parish advertizing it where ever and however possible, and by flocking to them in great numbers. Talk about falseness and disobedience. So much for their spirit of truth. They paid more importance to the anointing at the end of the mass than to the reception of the Eucharist.

  61. The Masked Chicken says:

    This is a fascinating subject. Because of some chronic health problems, I have sought counsel on whether or not to be anointed from several people, whom I thought were well-informed (mostly, priests). My understanding has gradually improved to the point where I hope it is in conformity with the Church, but I did not always receive the best guidance in the past. Reading the actual Canons was really helpful.

    There is a grey area in the Law (but, what do I know), it seems, where someone has, let’s say, an inoperable brain aneurism. There is no, “turning towards death.” There is either, “he/she is alive, the aneurism hasn’t burst, ” or, “they’re dead.”

    Now, anyone can suddenly get hit by a car and that possibility is, obviously, not grounds for anointing, but an aneurism is a life-threatening internal condition that makes your life totally contingent. A sudden wrong sneeze – you die; a friend playfully smacks you in the head – you die; you get the stomach flu and throw-up too violently – you die; sometimes, for no known reason, the aneurism breaks – you die. Normally, chronic, survivable conditions are not a situation for the Anointing of the Sick, but in this case, the proximity to death simply is not known, so it is impossible to tell if one is turning towards death in doing the normal things of life.

    This is pretty much my situation (not quite an aneurism, but something close and just as dangerous). The neurosurgeon said, “My wife’s a General Practitioner and if she had seen your MRI, she would have freaked. If you stroke out and you are still alive, I’ll put you in the hospital for rehab.” Nice things to tell a patient.

    Now, since my condition is, basically, untreatable, I have no choice but to live my life and take reasonable precautions, which include weekly confession, daily Mass, prayer, trying to keep my blood pressure down (try doing that as a teacher), keeping my weight under control, etc. I look perfectly healthy, but the effects slowly accumulate and I compensate quite a bit. My point is that the word, “begins,” to be in danger of death can be a little fuzzy when the time interval between begins to be and dead is a Dirac Delta Function. If one followed the Law as currently written, I might be one of a few people on the planet who really has no chance to begin to be in danger of death and, therefore, cannot receive the sacrament of the Anointing. Does a very serious condition whose triggering in day-to-day life is totally contingent satisfy the Law as a beginning to turn towards death?

    I hope this aspect of the Law gets worked out.

    The Chicken

    [Given your description, I would not hesitate to receive the Sacrament of Anointing when offered by priests during a service of some kind. That sure sounds like “danger” to me and a “danger” is that is not external to you.]

  62. BLB Oregon says:

    Is the sacrament reserved for the danger of death, or is it ever appropriate for other serious conditions, such as the danger of serious deafness, blindness, incapacitation, and so on? [You might want to review the top entry.]

  63. The Masked Chicken says:

    Oh, don’t get me started on healing Masses. Every Mass is healing (!), but the idea of a, “healing Mass,” is borrowed from Charismatic circles and is based on an improper understanding of Scripture and an incorrect anthropology of man. Blanket Anointing of the Sick in this context is an abuse of the sacrament, in my opinion, since it misinterprets the primary reasons for the Anointing.

    The Chicken

  64. Blog Goliard says:

    I don’t know the answer to your question, Chicken.

    What I do know is that for any given sacrament, where the main requirement is that the recipient simply be a really good egg, you’d be in like Flynn.

    Keep taking care of yourself. The world doesn’t want to do without you just yet.

  65. Blog Goliard says:

    P.S. Regarding the “healing Masses”…I share your opinion, Chicken, but I’m going to try to take a detached view of it nonetheless. My hunch is that they will either pass peacefully from the scene with the last of the Boomers, or their defects will be addressed (if just barely sufficiently) when Rome retcons them into our post-Conciliar liturgical norms.

  66. Humbled.
    How I wish I had listened to my teenage son a few years ago when he tried to shed light on this sacrament… He was reading Fr. Z (years before the rest us caught on), and spreading truths we had never heard preached or taught before, though we are cradle Catholics.

    On this particular subject, my son’s relaying of what Fr. Z wrote about the possible misuse of the anointing of the sick contradicted what our (holy, beloved) parish priest(s) taught, and what was/is being practiced (quarterly) at our parish. I followed the crowd, invited to come forward when we are in ‘great need of healing, either physical, spiritual or emotional.’
    No more.

    A dose of humor:
    My two teenage altar boys rejoiced when they read your post today, Father Z.
    The ONLY Mass these boys ever complain about serving (or even actively avoid serving) is the anointing of the sick Masses held frequently at our (holy) parish.

    LIGHT. Blinding light. Time to repent; praise God for confession!
    Thanks Father Z!

  67. Fr. Thomas Kocik says:

    A year ago, the liturgical journal Antiphon (Vol. 16, No. 1) carried an essay by Fr. Dylan Schrader entitled “Anointing Before Surgery: When and Why?” Fr Schrader notes that the Catechism (no. 1515) does not explicitly state that the reason for the surgery must be to treat an existing serious condition. When, however, CCC 1515 is read in the light of the praenotanda of the Roman Ritual of anointing, there is no warrant for anointing a healthy person before surgery, even if that surgery should require general anesthesia. [Did everyone get that?] Indeed, CCC 1515 seems to imply a dangerous infirmity as the reason for surgery by the qualifier “serious” (cuiusdam momenti). Thus, Fr. Schrader concludes: “Because the sacrament is ordered toward the healing of body and soul, it should not be celebrated simply because of an external threat to health, be it real or potential, but only because of a present serious illness. Those about to undergo surgery, yet who have not begun to be in danger because of illness or old age, are not eligible for the anointing of the sick. If they have reason to be anxious, let them instead make a sacramental confession.”
    I will gladly provide a PDF version of this essay to anyone who requests it from me at tkocik@newliturgicalmovement.org.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  68. The Masked Chicken says:

    “When, however, CCC 1515 is read in the light of the praenotanda of the Roman Ritual of anointing, there is no warrant for anointing a healthy person before surgery, even if that surgery should require general anesthesia. ”


    Face tuck – no
    Heart tuck – yes

    The Chicken

  69. beej says:

    I decided a couple years ago after spending a good part of my life struggling with things like this, that I would Honor God at all cost by honoring whom ever He chose to be pope. And honoring the pope by whom ever he chose to be my bishop, and honoring my bishop by honoring our local priest. So if he says jump I say how high. Is that sinful? I don’t know but, there is no possible way I could keep track of all the rules that have been put in place.

    This gives me the freedom to concentrate on my own sinfulness dealing with the seven deadly sins, and to not worry about being “over” anointed, and I trust in God’s loving grace and mercy to take care of the rest.

    It does seem, in Scripture, that there were hard rules set in place about doing certain rituals, and Jesus set aside some of those rules for a greater purpose, whether it be healing, or simply to make a point. It seems like He would be understanding of my obedience to my local pastor doing the same thing.

  70. Lucas Whittaker says:

    De subiecto extremae unctionis: on the subject of extreme unction: The 1917 Codex used the words “in periculo mortis”, in danger of death, whereas the 1983 Codex, canon 1004, reformed that codex with the words “periculos infirmorum”, dangerously sick. The pastoral and liturgical norm of administering what was then called Extreme Unction has been reformed and no longer retains its force because it is contrary to the 1983 codex iuris canonici (and this based on canons 2, 3, and 6). Canon 6 §1, 1º, abrogates the 1917 codex, which read:

    Can 940 §1. Extrema unctio praeberi non potest nisi fideli, qui post adeptum usum rationis ob infirmitatem vel senium in periculo mortis versetur.
    §2. In eadem infirmitate hoc sacramentum iterari non potest, nisi infirmus post susceptam unctionem convaluerit et in aliud vitae discrimen inciderit.

    The canons of the Code now provide for the use of this sacrament on those who are beginning to be dangerously sick, and under canon 1004 §2, whenever a serious crisis develops during the same sickness. In fact, canon 1005 goes so far as to state that the sacrament of the sick is to be administered when there is doubt whether the sick person is dangerously ill—although c 1005 does provide for other circumstances as well.

    Bear in mind that in general Canon Law seeks to weave the faithful into a harmonious whole and so her prescriptions are not meant to cause difficulty, but a correct understanding of the life of the Church.

    It would seem that the very need to reform the Code arose from just such problems as another commenter brings up, that a terminally ill man was denied the sacrament because the pastor didn’t deem him close enough to deaths door yet. This circumstance is tragic, which is why we now have the words: “when there is doubt whether the sick person is dangerously ill” in canon 1004 §1.

    Canon 1002 provides for communal celebrations in order to provide for the demands made upon pastors of souls under canon 1001, which states that those who are close to the sick are supported by this sacrament.

    This means that the person does not have to be in danger of death in order to receive the sacrament but must only have a serious sickness, which opens this sacrament to a much wider purview than was previously fostered by the 1917 Codex.

    Relative paragraphs in the new Catechism follow the Code perfectly on these points, which is why you will not find the words “in periculo mortis” in the following reading of the 1983 codex 1004: “§1 Unctio infirmorum ministrari potest fideli qui, adepto rationis usu, ob infirmatem vel senium in periculo incipit versari.”

    The Catechism tries hard to reflect Church law. It could even be said that its purpose is to help us gain a right understanding for the same purpose for which the Code exists: weave the faithful into a harmonious whole, which speaks to the unity for which Christ prayed: Law is the condition of love. Love should be reflected in the law.

  71. The Masked Chicken says:

    “It does seem, in Scripture, that there were hard rules set in place about doing certain rituals, and Jesus set aside some of those rules for a greater purpose, whether it be healing, or simply to make a point. It seems like He would be understanding of my obedience to my local pastor doing the same thing.”

    Jesus was infallible and impeccable. Your priest is neither, not have you sworn a vow to absolutely obey him (such an oath would be indiscreet, in most, but not all, cases). Many priests are conscientious and of good character, but some are simply ill-informed. My whole life was set into chaos by the well-meaning, but imprudent actions of a priest. Priests are to be respected for who and what they are, but they are not Christ and they do not have the right to set aside an aspect of the Law for something they may deem a greater purpose, except as provided for by necessity (something provided for by the Law, by the way). Jesus was the Author of the Law and had full authority to modify it. The Church, now, speaks for Christ and only It has the authority to change the Law, all things being equal, not your priest.

    This was one of the issues discussed during the, “footgate,” posts before Easter.

    The Chicken

    P. S. I hope I don’t come off as being harsh.

  72. cl00bie says:

    Veronica, that was exactly the question I wanted to ask, though seriously. Are you allowed to use holy oil during prayers (for sick people or otherwise) when you are clear you are not administering a sacrament? What about holy water? Is the use of these sacramentals narrowly prescribed, or forbidden?

  73. eulogos says:

    I am very glad to read that the Eastern practice is legitimate in the East, as when I went to Divine Liturgy on Wednesday evening in Holy Week last year and everyone went up for annointing, I was not quite sure what was happening and had to ask someone if that was a sacramental annointing (the east also has a non-sacramental form of annointing practiced on feast days). When my informant said yes it was the sacrament, I was bewildered, because I understood annointing of everyone to be an abuse (one I had participated in in years past , having been told the ‘we are all sick in some way’ rationale, and one I had determined to avoid in the future). Yet I had never found any of the usual “abuses” in my Ruthenian rite parish. ( Not being an expert on things Eastern, there may be some that I just don’t recognize, but I am happier that way I think. )
    So I was confused about this and always meant to find out more about it. I actually avoided that liturgy this year because of that confusion. (I attended Tenebrae at my husband’s Anglican parish instead.) So I am glad to find out that what was done is in the Eastern tradition and is not illegitimate.

    I do have a question though. If the tradition developed differently in the East from in the West, and both are legitimate, then it is not *intrinsically* wrong to annoint people not in immediate danger of death, the way, for instance, it is intrinsically wrong to give communion to the unbaptized. So, couldn’t there be change in the Western tradition? And as much as we deplore disobedience, haven’t some changes in tradition come about through practices which are accepted locally and then spread? I think that kind of change can be found in our history, and not just since Vatican II. Perhaps this was helped along by how much greater distances were, practically, in previous times, and how much poorer communication was, so that a local variance could be quite entrenched before anyone noticed. Although I wouldn’t participate in this general healing services in a Western parish, I do really see some point to them. For one thing, we live in a culture in which a lot of human dysfunction is understood according to a medical paradigm, so that people tend to think of what is wrong as something in need of healing. We also have a lot more chronic illness and much less of acute illness leading quickly to death. So perhaps there is a cultural need for the meaning, or usual setting, of annoiting to change. That it can legitimately be different from what it is now is clearly demonstrated by the Catholic Eastern rites’ having a different practice.
    Susan Peterson

  74. Lucas Whittaker says:

    I just learned that Dr. Edward Peters, the good guy with all those letters after his name : “JD, JCD, Ref. Sig. Ap.”, over there are the In the Light of the Law blog, supports Father Z’s reading of this canon regardless of what I point out and due to something that happened during the canonical revision process. Here is the salient point from Dr. Peters,

    “During the canonical revision process, concern was expressed that an early draft of what eventually became Canon 1004 lacked the reference to danger of death. But the common sense proposal to add the phrase “of death” to the canon was rejected because—ready?—“it is sufficiently understood to be included” in the phrase “in danger”. Communicationes XV: 215.”

    This means that the “in extremis” and “in periculo mortis” are still in force within the context of the present 1984 Codex.

    [And “in danger” probably doesn’t imply “in danger of having a bad hair day”.]

  75. Lucas Whittaker says:

    “During the canonical revision process”, you say? Really. This reading of th Code thing becomes rather complicated by unfortunate human oversights. The Code is important for the life of the Church and should be clear in itself. No?

  76. Lucas Whittaker says:


  77. lmo1968 says:

    [“Legalistic” is a buzz word often used by anti-nomians.]

    Fr. Z, that made me laugh. If I was an anti-nomian, I doubt I’d have bothered with the anointing. [?…?…] What I mean by “legalistic” is that even though the priest — who is also a physician — was, according to his own words, initially unsure that my illness required anointing according to canon law when I first spoke with him — once he arrived at the hospital and saw my condition he was glad that he came despite his initial doubts.

  78. Lucas Whittaker says:

    Father Z: To be clear about my intentions (and also my confusion apropos the effect that the canonical revision process had on 1983 Can. 1004 §1) I truly saw the 1983 Johanno-Pauline Code as simply abrogating the 1917 Pio-Benedictine Code without seeing the connecting thread of the phrase “in periculo mortis” to the traditional understanding of the current use of this sacrament. I did see, Father Z, that you quoted Sacramentum Concilium, but I mistakenly thought that the verbiage of the law as it is read in the Johanno-Pauline Code trumped the “in periculo mortis” phrase without exception.

    Dr. Edward Peters: Is it possible to possible publish a new edition of the Code that would correct the verbiage of “Can. 1004 §1” according to its traditional understanding, or the correct interpretation of the sacrament? Please let me know your thoughts on such a possibility. I would appreciate “hearing” them. Thank you, by the way, for posting about this on your blog, In The Light of The Law.

    Sincerely In Christ,

  79. oddfisher says:

    What would be appropriate for someone who had a condition that didn’t affect how they feel or function, but created a risk of sudden death?

    [If there is actual danger of sudden death? Nightly examination of conscience, frequent confession, occasional reception of Sacrament of Anointing.]

  80. ReginaMarie says:

    You are correct, Mirovanije is the Anointing with Holy Oil that takes place at the end of a solemn Holy Day liturgy in the Eastern Catholic Churches. The faithful approach for the veneration of the icon of the feast, usually displayed at the tetrapod. The priest anoints the forehead with holy oil & greets the individual with “Christ is among us”, to which the recipient replies “He is and always shall be.” After being anointed, the individual may receive a small piece of antidoron. (Antidoron translates as “Instead of the Gifts” & is blessed, but non-consecrated leavened bread sometimes distributed after the Divine Liturgy, especially during Mirovanije. It is the remaining bread from the Prosphora cut for consecration as Holy Communion.)

  81. Suburbanbanshee says:

    In many cases, the East does one thing and the West does another — AND THEY ARE BOTH RIGHT.

    Look, folks. You never say, “Mr. Jones and Mrs. Jones have their kids’ bedtime at 7 PM, so our kids’ bedtime should also be 7 PM.” You choose bedtimes based on the kids and on how you raise them, not on how other people raise other kids. Similarly, nobody says that since the East serves lamb for Easter and the West serves ham, the ham has got to go.

    The West has a perfectly good tradition for people worried about potential physical danger (like battle or travel) that isn’t sickness — you go to Confession and to Communion. (And frequently, if you can.) You can even have Father say a Mass specifically for battle or travel or non-terminal sickness, or what-have-you.

    As for the physically or mentally sick who aren’t terminal, you can light candles and say prayers. You can visit shrines and go on pilgrimages. You can get tons of sacramentals and even eat some, like blessed salt or holy water. You can have your friends pray for you, and have a devotion to saints who pray for a happy death. There’s more provided for the sick than just the Sacrament itself.

    And I suggest that we all pray for the Masked Chicken.

  82. RafkasRoad says:

    Dear Lucas Witteker,

    Your comment #30 is insightful (didn’t pick it up first time around in the comments box). Re your response to me, I don’t understand ‘U-ey’, and as for the latin, remember, I’ve not been a Catholic 18 months and am still finding my way. As for Latin, this is a whole other world (as it is not my church’s liturgical language, being Marounite). I’m still trying to muddle through my own rite, let alone muddle through the ways of the roman rite…

    Dear Chicken,

    Oh my dear brother in Christ, you always articulate god’s truth so beautifully and simply. May our Lord and Lady protect you at all times and work their will mightily through your own personal witness and faith-sharing.

    a world without ‘Chicken’ would be all the poorer.

    I shall up my prayers for you, Lucas and all others who are living with the extra level of medical condition or disability. And many thanks to Superbanbanshy for reminding us of the pilgrimages, devotions etc.

    Aussie readers, especially other aussie Marounite readers here, do you know of good pilgrimages etc in the Sydney area?


    Aussie Marounite.

  83. Lucas Whittaker says:

    Dear Aussie Marounite,

    I meant no harm, by any means. Please forgive my insincerity. I got carried away in my use of the language of the Latin Rite Code of canon law. I am no Latin scholar either. If you did understand the Latin then you would see that I was only suggesting the you might want to rethink what you said about needing something more after receiving Jesus in the Eucharist. But it is true that the sacrament of the sick does confer a unique grace onto those who receive it. Again, I apologize, Aussie Marounite. The Latin states, simply, that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith. But we share the same faith and so I need say no more. A “U-ey” means, where I come from, a change of mind, deriving from a driving maneuver where you literally make a 180º turn in the car.

    I would like to comment on the beauty of your rite. I have yet to attend a Maronite liturgy, but I once heard a Latin Rite Priest who says the Maronite Rite Mass in certain circumstances give a long talk on the differences between the Latin and Maronite Rite liturgical gestures. Some of the gestures, or rubrics, signify things that we don’t see in the Latin Rite. For instance, the manner in which the priest flutters his hands over the chalice near the beginning of the Eucharistic prayers. In your Rite this signifies the decent of the Holy Spirit upon/into the gifts of wine and bread. In the Latin Rite the priest holds his hands in a similar manner to this, but there is no fluttering that happens. When you consider that our Church began at the same source until the Apostles split up in order to spread the gospel in different lands—places where communication was impossible—yet two thousand years later we have these various Rites (i.e.: Maronite, Latin, and so forth) that are amazing in their similarities. These wonderful similarities stand as a testament to the apostolic succession that we call Tradition today.

    Please overlook the spelling and inconsistencies, I have been awake all night writing an exposition and am just now heading off to bed at 5:50AM. Thank you for your understanding about my remarks, Aussie Marounite. Keep the faith.

    In Christ,

  84. RafkasRoad says:

    Dear Lucas,

    thank you; no offence taken. Up all night writing an exposition??? All night?? If there is a patron saint for sleepless nights, may he or she petition our Lord to keep extra watch over you today.

    In our Adult Christening class, we only had one lecture on liturgy and It was one I could not attend due to family obligations (I am the only convert in my family and the only Christian of any variety); due to vision impairment (I use http://www.serotek.com‘s ‘system Access’ to read the screen via text to speech and Braille via a http://www.humanware.com Brailliant BI32 – still praying for a Braille missel with Aramaeic transliteration to become available…I trust St. Rafka and St. Lucy to make a way), I am oblivious to the gestures the priest might make (or neglect to make) throughout the liturgy. However, I am rewarded with the sung liturgy provided by wonderful cantors most of the time and lots of good incense (the proper stuff, not the nasty-smelling cheap knock-offs)…

    Of interest, my guide dog has presented some issues at church; some parishioners finding him an insult to jesus in the house of god; I finally took it to our priests last year who were fantastic about everything – I uphold Frs daily for the amazing work they do , especially in light of the absolutely bonkers workload they all have, sat in our side hall until things cooled off, and now sit up the back out of the way (all the interesting folk congregate in the ‘cheap seats’, ladies and gentlemen…:-) ) my guide dog is well behaved and stays calm; he’ll curl up in the confessional and would sleep there all through mass if I allowed him to…

    I am thankful to good priests and some wonderful fellow parishioners who support and pray for me.

    Any questions and I’d be happy to answer them to the best of my ability.


    Aussie Marounite.
    PS: If readers have vision impairment that is impacting on the way they do things, beginning to impact on the way they do things, or have friends and family who are in this situation, I can provide some ‘where to’s’ for folk in the US, UK and Australia.

    St. Rafka, pray for us,
    St. Lucy, pray for us,
    Bl. Margaret of Castello, pray for us.

  85. RafkasRoad says:

    Urgent note;

    My guide dog only curls up in the confessional when I am in the confessional…I promise it is not used as a defacto dog house.
    I thank god for confession all through mass at EVERY Saturday and Sunday mass; it is wonderful and something I need often…every week, sorry to say.
    I guess I’ll get my cr*p together one day…its a long, long road and God is faithful with me, who seems to fall off of the horse more than stay on despite my best efforts and intentions.all I can do is try my best, give Him my all and flee to Christ’s sacraments always.


    Aussie Marounite.

  86. Supertradmum says:

    Thank you a million times for this post, Fr. Z. There are so many “charismatic” priests running around England doing these Masses that I have tried to warn people about the abuse of such. There have been such healing Masses at shrines here and in parishes where everyone and anyone who feels ill goes. Also, there are serious mental illnesses which are denied or pretended to be healed in these services, which I find very disturbing. There are healing prayer meetings. In addition, there is now something called “healing Adoration” which I find creepy, at which a priest walks around with the Monstrance with Christ and stops at all the people in the church praying a healing prayer for them. I call this manipulation. It happened in Walsingham at the main Catholic shrine recently.

    Even some bishops have been involved in such. or allow it, although few.

    The second point you make about sacrilege is one I have had an on-going battle with regarding who should be confirmed. I have had to back out of at least three Confirmation prep classes because the priests insisted on confirming young people who were not practicing their faith in a number of ways. Confirmation is passed out like candy, as if young people and their parents have a right to demand the sacrament, even though John and Judy are not attending Sunday Mass, are taking birth-control bills, and openly disagree with the Church’s teaching in areas of morality, such as homosexual activities.

    These allowances by pastors weaken the Church daily. One priest said he accepted people into his parish and allowing them forward for Confirmation in the knowledge that these people were contracepting. I first met this here in England in 1991 in RCIA groups and it is still happening.

    Sacrilege. I cannot fight these abuses on my own.

  87. Gallia Albanensis says:

    The law is the law I suppose, and so it should be followed, but this one strikes me as pusillanimous and skin-flinty.

    I believe annual Anointing has been to the benefit of my soul and body.

    Someone above said, to paraphrase, that “East is East and West is West and they can both be right.” True enough, 90% of the time. On occasion however, one or the other can learn from his brother. Perhaps this is one case.

  88. Supertradmum says:

    PS. I have had two serious surgeries in my life and I stopped breathing in both because of allergic reactions to the anesthetics. After the first one, in 2002, I warned the doctors, and they changed the stuff, but the same thing happened in 2009. I carry a card now. Before both operations, I went to Confession.

  89. The Masked Chicken says:

    “Thank you a million times for this post, Fr. Z. There are so many “charismatic” priests running around England doing these Masses that I have tried to warn people about the abuse of such. There have been such healing Masses at shrines here and in parishes where everyone and anyone who feels ill goes. Also, there are serious mental illnesses which are denied or pretended to be healed in these services, which I find very disturbing. There are healing prayer meetings. In addition, there is now something called “healing Adoration” which I find creepy, at which a priest walks around with the Monstrance with Christ and stops at all the people in the church praying a healing prayer for them. I call this manipulation. It happened in Walsingham at the main Catholic shrine recently.”

    I have to go teach a class, so I’ll have to come back to this (going teach my students how to make an atom bomb – it is surprising easy with the right equipment :) ), but I have to say a word about Charismatic healing practices of this type. The practice began in about 1865 in Scotland and started with Dr. Charles Cullis’s, “discovery,” of a passage in one of St. Paul’s epistles that he misunderstood to refer to physical instead of spiritual health (no time to do an exegesis). Such healings are a contingent permissive act of God, who may or may not actually want them to happen. St. Alphonsus Ligouri discusses this aspect of healing in his pamphlet, Conformity to the Divine Will.

    Rats. Gotta go. Interesting topic, completely at odds with the sacrament of the Anointing.

    Oh, for mental illness – another long discussion, but, ordinarily, confession, Eucharist, sacramentals, and prayer are the means for strength. Fr. Z. may disagree, but, regarding depression, Anointing might be justified if the depression carries into actual preparations for suicide (although confession at that point is more urgent), but, certainly, might not Anointing be done if the suicide is in progress or recently survived(after confession, if possible).

    The Chicken

  90. RafkasRoad says:

    Dear Supertradmum,

    I had the (unfortunate) experience of happening upon one of these ‘Healing Adoration’ services that you have spoken of here in my own part of the city just this past ‘first Friday’ evening at a local Roman rite parish I attended with a friend to hear a priest who was out from the Phillipines giving the mass. This was one of the most discombobulating services I have ever attended in either of the rites I have anything to do with; at one minute to eight in the evening just before ‘kickoff’, my friend and I almost cut and ran, but as we would not have made a service in time at another church, we sat through it. , I subsequently emailed the particulars to Fr.Z

    I admit participating in it, though I felt odd; the atmosphere seemed malevolent for some reason; (though is this possible in the house of God where our Lord in the form of His prescious body and blood reside?) – it felt similarly ‘creepy’ to the handful of protestant pentacostal/charismatic services I have attended in the past. I almost expected the priest to start ‘slaying’ folk ‘in the spirit’ or the congregation to burst out in tongues…had a very vexing confession experience also, but trusted that the confession was valid as the correct formula was given on completion…

    I too fear for the very real harm done to, and exploitation carried out upon persons with mental illness in these types of services, not to mention those with a vision impairment or paralysis…I’ve seen enough ‘speak it, claim it’ theology in my time and I DO NOT want to see it worming its way into any rite of the Catholic church.

    Nobody is out there educating the average, sincere, well-intentioned Aussie Catholic; they trust their priests to do right by them. this sort of thing is not tolerated in the Eastern Catholic rites so much, but we have our own issues. The Australian Catholic landscape from what I have gleaned is somewhat different from that of the US, from what I’ve heard through folk here who have also worshipped over there; we have much less difference between our ‘liberal’ and more ‘conservative’ parishes; if one lives outside of a very defined portion of our capital cities, and is of the Latin rite, the EF is non existant. the Eastern rites are virtually non existant also. Pray for us here; this thread is about the sacraments concerned with healing, but we need spiritual healing across the land.

    also, please pray for our brothers and sisters in New Zealand; they now have legalised Same Sex Marriage, and the heat is on from ALL points in the media to allow it here…and it was a conservative govt. that signed off on it there.

    Please pray for us in the Southern hemisphere, and I will pray for you in the North.


    Aussie Marounite.

  91. Torpedo1 says:

    At Fr. Z, ack! I gave some very bad advice to my brother in law last weekend then, when i thought that, because he has two persistant mental illness that he could go up for anointing of the sick. Woops. I’ve since sent this post to him over facebook.
    at Ausi Marinouite,
    I to am visually impaired, though I just prefer the term blind, and I just want to say, I hear you regarding most of the stuff you’ve gone through. Regarding my guide dog at Mass. I almost never bring him, unless I’ve been out doing something else earlier and can’t get him home. I find it distracting to have him at Mass, for me as well as for others, and I fortunately have people who can help me when at mass. Just one other question, how in the world does he fit into the confessional with you? Is it a large room? I usually attend a parish which has the confessional boxes and I know my dog and I would be a tight squeeze, if we were able to fit at all. It sounds like you have a very good dog though, if he just curls up. Mine… well he’d go right for the tissues supplied near the neeler, LOL. Love him, but he’s a golden retriever mix and is very mouthy. Anyway, prayers coming your way. I understand it is hard over there to keep courage and to be strong in the faith. Blessings to you and happy travels with the pup.

  92. Mrs. O says:

    I appreciate the what is/isn’t reason to receiving.
    That said, I would hope we keep w what the medical field is reporting especially mental illness.
    We are fortunately or unfortunately finding out that those who abuse pornography, have affairs, etc have physical holes that form in their brain. Of course confession and frequent communion in addition to help for the disease, yes we look at them as diseasesd, would not be turned away from the sacrament. The sacrament has healing powers in addition to helping them be at ease w their illness.
    Also, those other groups of mental illness, ESP suicidal ones, it may make a difference. However this is dealt w, compassion and mercy need to be a prerequisite.

  93. RafkasRoad says:

    Commenter #91,

    Its fantastic to find out that i’m not the only guide dog user who reads this blog; I wonder how many of us there are out in Catholic-land, (especially the more traditional types of ‘Catholic land’)..

    My guide dog is a beautiful five year old golden labby who is small for a boy; only 24.1kg. We have regular confessional boxes at church and we both fit easily; he goes in first, curls up in thcorner, and I kneel down; we’re touching, but we fit. he’s good in church; can get a bit sniffy, especially if there’s been a wedding or the like the day before. We’ve ‘back-chain’ trained him to find my regular seat, the holy water font (if there’s a pool of water that has collected n the ground he occasionally has a go, and is perfect for the rest of the day – fair dinkum, even though I bless him with holy water daily anyway – keeps the devil away from our animals) and monastery. the confessionals are easy finds as they’re in-set doors along the right hand wall of the church and the queue is usually a mile long if we arrive any later than ten minutes prior to mass on a sunday. At university (I am on my final 40 credit points towards a B.Theol – Please pray for me, all!!!!!) we sit up the front, he lies in the aisle, but stays relatively tucked against the pew. I asked about any problems he may cause when taking a liturgy unit a few years ago, and my lecturer mentioned ‘that’s what accolytes are for’… When in the first pew, (its a RR mass at uni) I simply kneel in place and receive on the tongue; my dog’s lead at its longer length so I can hold it while appropriately positioned for reception).

    re guide dog antics in church, my last guide dog, a tough old black Labrador who’d eat a bowl of nails for breakfast if you’d let her and knew how to battering-ram her way through a crowd bold as brass, committed the most audatious act of communion theft I’ve ever been embarrassed to endure; she was perfect 99% of the time during the service, but upon this lone occasion, launched the most lightening-fast hind leg stand, swoop, steal, munch, sit right from the communion bread tray the deacon was passing around that finished her days at church forever!!! (Thank heavens it was not a Catholic church; this was back in my SDA days)… My second guide dog, another black labbie, used to yodel with the hymns; even more embrassing due to the fact I sang in the choir!! but people loved and accepted her without a problem. the well-wishes I received upon her retirement were incredibly touching.

    May St. Hubert pray for our guide dogs, especially those who work mass duty.


    Aussie Marounite.

  94. The Masked Chicken says:

    Just a quick note. It was not my intention to panic anyone by discussing a medical problem of mine. I was using it to illustrate a subtly that I don’t think the Law has completely addressed. Yes, I have a condition, but I was actually unaware of it until a few years ago when I went to get a head CT to make sure that I didn’t have a concussion from a mugging at a bus stop (now, That, is an interesting story – did you know that you can’t get on a city bus while bleeding?). Since nothing can be done about it, I ignore it and get on with my life. Oh, it flairs up, now and again to remind me that it’s there, but, basically, it’s a non-issue. Live, die, what does it matter as long as we do either in a state of grace? I have been fortunate not to suffer from seizures which can occur when this condition happens in other parts of the brain and since I am a wind musician and I walk everywhere, I have extra neural density in my brainstem that acts as a cushion to offset, at least for a time, any smaller strokes.

    There are much more pressing needs for prayer than my problem. There are many fallen away Catholics who have much less chance of dying within the Church who need prayer. Healing or not healing, that is in God’s hands, but free will and its use or misuse is a higher priority than health and those people who are in chronic sin due to their misguided free will are the really sick people who need the Divine Physician, so, pray for them.

    I was and am, however, touched by your concern. May it increase your stature before God and man and provide you with a rich inheritance of merit, now and always.

    The Chicken

  95. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Chicken,

    I do not think that there is a lack in the Law. Death is, after all, always a Dirac function; first you are alive, then you are dead.

    You are in ongoing danger of death; something that has been dealt with. Hence I’d suggest you’d first receive Extreme Unction, perhaps with lavish preparation (for the status goes on already, after all). Then as long as you live (and God grant you a long life!) receive Extreme Unction with some regularity. Not everyone can do this, it would be false; but you can, and then why not.

    Be assured of my compassion.

  96. Torpedo1 says:

    Dear at Ausi,
    Your dogs sound great and as for your second snatching the bread, yup, those pups are fast when they want to be. I hope you didn’t think I was implying that you don’t take your dog to Mass or Confession. it’s simply a preference I have which is helped by the fact that I have my fiance, who takes me to both Mass and Confession, there to help me when I don’t have the dog. Although, I had a funny experience when I brought my first guide dog to Mass. I was kneeling during the consecration and I drifted my hand down to check on my dog. I discovered his entire front half up on the kneeler with me. He wanted to kneel too. I giggled and that always makes me smile. It’s odd though, when the discussion of service animals broke out on a guide dog list I was on, people were irrate that I didn’t bring my dog to church. They thought it was terrible. I couldn’t understand what the big deal was. I wanted to be there to receive my Lord, not intercept people from petting the dog or talking to me about him during Mass, so I kept him at home and still do. He doesn’t care. Actually, my blindness has made me appreciate the TLM because during it, as well as a reverently done NOM, I’m not stuck being left out of singing songs I don’t know. i know the prayers, I remember the gestures and what i’m supposed to do and I don’t have to wonder what’s going on. Also… it’s so soothing and quiet. my favorite times are to attend the TLM at my local parish in the summer. I love the chant and the silence both. Anyway, sorry to drag this post off topic, but good luck in school and I’m still sending prayers.

  97. RafkasRoad says:

    Torpedo 1,

    Fear not I didn’t think that you thought I perhaps oughten’t take my guide dog to church. Everything’s fine. Re others on service dog lists showing concern and even upset at your choice not to take your guide dog, I can see why they may have worried, jumping to conclusions and assuming politeness on your part re reasons you may have voiced, combined with concern that you may have experienced prejudice (especially if others have had experiences like the incidents I’ve had to endure in my own congregation). I completely respect your choice (not all of my guide dogs have been ‘well churched’ guide dogs so I’ve adapted from one dog to the next – can’t believe its been 20 years of guide dog ownership this coming May!!)

    Re dog behaviour in church, What a sweetie – kneeling alongside you for the consecration. Mine when we’re departing the chapel at university, walking down the centre aisle of the nave, turns hard back at least twice or thrice to glance over his right shoulder at the Crucifix, behind us. he’s not looking at me, but I believe, at the Crucifix (one can feel every little movement or muscle-twitch through the harness handle and lead).

    Re the changeable worship song palaba at most NO masses, it too is a bugbear of mine – at least with the MR, the chants remain the same, and the hymnity is small and regular, so one is able to learn easily (though they’ve changed the creed this past month and I’m still getting used to it). It sounds like the silence you experience in the TLM is much the same as that of the MR, especially before and after mass, as many come early to pray, or stay after to pray, the gaggle of talkers quitting the interior of the church to take it outside and leave us in peace. I intend to try and make a TLM soon; I would desperately love to find an AO mass also in Sydney; does anybody know if and where one exists, within half an hours drive max of the South West, as I rely on my husband to drive me and he doesn’t attend so this means four trips – there and home to get me to church, plus another ‘there and home’ to fetch me getting a ride with someone is a minefield in and of itself) ) ).

    Fr. Zuhlzdorf, when you’re well, How’s about an article and ‘talking space’ for us with service dogs and disability-related questions re participation and access to good liturgy, faith-building resources access issues along with solutions be it the EF, AO, or Eastern Catholic Rite?

    Oh, and Torpedo1, congratulations on your up and coming marriage, this is wonderful news!! May our Lord and lady bless you abundantly!!!!


    Aussie Marounite.

  98. robtbrown says:

    Apologies for the following late (and random) comments.

    1. I have my doubts about the practice of Anointing people during mass. It usually has seemed to me that it produces Healing Masses. The problem with such an approach is that physical healing is a possible, though not necessary, effect of the Sacrament. Thus:

    2. The Sacramental principle of ex opere operato always must be kept in mind: Sacraments of themselves always produce their proper Sacramental effects–in this case, strengthening the faith of someone in danger of death. This differs from Sacramentals, which only work ex opere operantis, the effect being produced by the action of the person. It is much like the difference between taking a pill and doing pushups.

    For a celebrant at a “Healing Mass” to give people the impression that physical healing is why it is being administered undermines the entire notion of Sacraments.

    3. Re Plenary indulgences (this from the Apostolic Constitution Indulgentiarum Doctrina):

    7—To acquire a plenary indulgence it is necessary to perform the work to which the indulgence is attached and to fulfill three conditions: sacramental confession, Eucharistic Communion and prayer for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff. It is further required that all attachment to sin, even to venial sin, be absent.

    If this disposition is in any way less than complete, or if the prescribed three conditions are not fulfilled, the indulgence will be only partial, except for the provisions contained in n.11 for those who are “impeded.”

    4. Although reference to the practice of the Eastern Churches can be of benefit, I tend to think that anyone who wants to imitate various Eastern liturgical practices should first put up the Holy Doors of Iconostasis that separate the sanctuary from the nave.

  99. Lots of virtual ink has been spilled on this healing Mass topic, but there haven’t been many voices in support of the healing Masses, so here is two cents worth.
    I know very well what the letter of the law says, but I ask you to consider how it stacks up against Scripture:
    James 5:14 ‘If one of you is ill , he should send for the elders of the church, and they must anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord and pray over him.’ This and the following verse is the basis for the sacrament of Anointing, and it says ill, it doesn’t say dying. ‘Ill’ encompasses the whole gamut of illnesses, including those that precede death.
    John 6:37 ‘All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I shall not turn him away.’ Jesus won’t turn us away if we come to Him seeking healing. Having listened to the pain of my brothers and sisters when a priest lays down the law about who should and who should not come forward to receive the sacrament, and to the confusion and guilt they go through trying to decide whether they are sick enough to go up or not, I have wondered whether that is something that Jesus would do.
    Matthew 8:16b ‘He cast out the spirits with a word and cured all who were sick.’
    Matthew 8:15b ‘Many followed Him and He cured them all.’
    Jesus cured everyone, no matter how grave or seemingly trivial their sicknesses were.
    When I attend a healing Mass, I see this part of the Gospel in action again, with the ‘all’ coming to Jesus. It gives me heart.
    In light of these scriptural passages perhaps our Eastern Rite brothers and sisters are ‘legally’ living closer to what Jesus intended for this sacrament than we are.

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