ASK FATHER: My unconscious aunt died after being anointed: was she forgiven? (Wherein Fr. Z also rants.)

last rites extreme unction anointing viaticum 02From a reader…

QUAERITUR:

My aunt recently passed away two major strokes. After her second, my uncle, an openly declared agnostic, asked me if she should have a priest. I replied in the affirmative, and the hospital had a priest come. Since my aunt was heavily sedated and likely very impaired due to the stroke, she was unable to confess. I’ve read several blogs, but its unclear if forgiveness of sin occurred or if it is even possible in such as case. Can a person impaired in such a way that they are unable to confess receive absolution? Or is this one of those mysteries that we hold out hope for God’s mercy?

It is good that the priest came.  I am sure that he anointed your aunt before her death.  This can be a consolation to you as it was a great spiritual benefit for her.

The Sacrament of Anointing, also called Extreme Unction when administered close to death, has several effects. The effects are 1) to comfort us in the pains of sickness and to strengthen us against temptations, 2) to remit venial sins and to cleanse our soul from the remains of sin, and 3) to restore us to health, when God sees fit.  These are the effects when a person is still conscience and in the state of grace.  When you are compos sui this sacrament should be received only in the state of grace, which means that, when possible, it should be administered after sacramental confession and absolution.

However, not all people near death are conscious and able to make a confession of their sins.  In cases of necessity, the Sacrament of Anointing, Extreme Unction, will also take away mortal sin (not just venial) if the dying person is no longer able to confess, provided she has the sorrow for his sins that would be necessary for the worthy reception of the Sacrament of Penance.

And so, we can say that the Sacrament of Anointing straddles 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 mortal (not just venial) sins.

Dear readers, do you see how important it is to make a regular confession of your sins?  We do not know the day or hour when we will be called before God’s Judgement Seat.

That woman was given a great grace: the priest came before she died.

And, yes, there is such a thing as mortal sin and, yes, there is a particular judgment which each of us will undergo at death.

Some people might want to give the impression these days that the mercy of God is so great that mortal sin doesn’t mean anything.

Some people might want to give the impression today that it is nearly impossible to commit mortal sins and that we shouldn’t even talk about these outdated categories anymore.

Mercy mercy mercy, they cry, while ignoring truth and justice and, frankly, common sense.

Well… THIS PRIEST is here to tell you that you CAN sin mortally and that you will be JUDGED.  THIS PRIEST is here to tell you that we all are going to get God’s JUSTICE whether we want it or not even though we can always BEG for His mercy.

We should daily reflect on the Four Last Things: Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell.

We should daily, even several times a day, beg God to spare us from a sudden and unprovided death.  An “unprovided death” is a death when someone has not had the last sacraments.

My job is to keep as many of you out of Hell as I can.

Hence, I am not going to blow happy gas and sunshine up your pants legs.  It IS possible to sin in such a way that you kill the life of grace in your soul, you lose the friendship of God, and you cut yourself from the eternal happiness of heaven which Christ opened up again from us sinners through His expiatory Sacrifice on the Cross.

Some will tell you that it is really really haaard to commit a mortal sin.  I’m not so sure about that.  Don’t bet your immortal souls on the devil-may-care pabulum spooned out by modernists and the foolish.

Don’t be distracted from what is important for salvation by those who are rattling that shiny thing over there in the wrong direction, on the road to perdition.

Examine your consciences, be brutally honest with yourselves, and GO TO CONFESSION!

Do you know fallen away Catholics?  Help them to GO TO CONFESSION!

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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11 Responses to ASK FATHER: My unconscious aunt died after being anointed: was she forgiven? (Wherein Fr. Z also rants.)

  1. JesusFreak84 says:

    This happened to a friend of mine last October, his mom had an annurism {sp?!} burst in her brain and her documented wishes had been to “not be a vegetable,” (her words,) and I’d wondered what the limits of Last Rites were ever since then. I still pray for this departed soul.

  2. Mike says:

    Well… THIS PRIEST is here to tell you that you CAN sin mortally and that you will be JUDGED. THIS PRIEST is here to tell you that we all are going to get God’s JUSTICE whether we want it or not even though we can always BEG for His mercy.

    Would that all priests would tell and live the truth. I pray for those who do and suffer persecution from liberal superiors who want to keep hiding it from us.

  3. Pingback: ASK FATHER: My unconscious aunt died after being anointed: was she forgiven? (Wherein Fr. Z also rants.) | Deaconjohn1987's Blog

  4. albinus1 says:

    The woman who is now my wife was instrumental in inspiring and persuading me — by her example — to return to Confession after I stayed away from the sacrament for an excessively long time. Next month we will be married five years. I thank God every day for bringing her into my life. She and I often go to Confession together (and by that I mean driving to the church and standing in line together, NOT going into the confessional together!). God in his grace and mercy used her as an example to me and instrument in bringing me back to Confession.

    I often wonder if I am called to be a similar example to someone else.

  5. Laura R. says:

    Mercy mercy mercy, they cry, while ignoring truth and justice and, frankly, common sense.

    Don’t they realize that mercy has no meaning apart from judgment?

  6. mater101 says:

    THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH for your rant!!
    We in the pews need this and much more straight talk….not the flowery interpretations of the readings we get week in and out….we need concrete direction and verbal examples: how to give thanks after communion, ( what prayers do you say , Father),
    what is real fasting, how to confess, what the power of prayer is, ( more than repetition ( the rosary ), why does it have power? this repetition…why are novenas of such power, indulgences, this year of Mercy and the benefits of the Holy Door for us,
    and on and on…we are in such ignorance…we struggle in Faith and in such darkness, without a shepherd’s guidance. We would be so much more a peace knowing what our efforts at faithfulness mean . Not that we are “earning” salvation or grace, but how to grow closer to His Most Holy Will, and thus, closer to what He as called us into being to be. And that is my rant…Forgive me.

  7. andia says:

    I try to go to confession weekly, after reading this blog. Have to tell you that your exhortations also helped me when I was not sure what to do after the priest did not say the prayer of absolution…I worried about it for a few days and thought “What would Fr Z tell me to do” answer “GO TO CONFESSION” – I went to another parish, told the priest what was wrong and made a good confession. So, Thanks for these exhortations, they help

  8. Dimitri_Cavalli says:

    In one case, the administration of the sacrament can affect others to repentence,see https://youtu.be/QMnTLM18jnc

  9. Gerhard says:

    Good for you Father. Thank you.

  10. Gerhard says:

    Albinus1 – undoubtedly, starting with your good wife. We all need encouragement and strengthening.

  11. gloriamary says:

    Thank you Father. My sister died in 2013 and my brother died last December. They were both on ventilators. My other sister made sure they had a priest administer the Last Rites. Thank you Jesus for Your Mercy.