From a reader…
If a hospital patient that is able to confess still gets the sacrament of the sick does it just forgive venial sins or mortal ones too?
First, let’s be clear about something. The sacrament of anointing is not to be given to just anyone. There are conditions for reception of this sacrament. I’m afraid it is poorly understood and sometimes abused.
The Sacrament of Anointing, is one the sacraments “of the living”, that is, they are to be received by one who is in the state of grace.
If a person is compos sui and can make his own decisions and understand what is going on, he must be given a chance to make his confession before being anointed. Even if his communication is impeded, he should indicate by signs and respond to the priest’s questions.
If a person is not sui compos, cannot respond, and isn’t aware of what is going on, such a person can be anointed and, in that case, the sacrament can also impart forgiveness of mortal sins.
If a person in the state of mortal sin – who is able to confess and receive absolution – receives the sacrament of anointing, the sacrament will not be effective in them in the way Christ and the Church intend. If a person is NOT able to confess, then the sacrament also forgives mortal sins so that the sacrament can be effective.
Also, it is good to review the law for the administration of this great sacrament:
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.
This doesn’t say execution or about to engage in battle or some other activity like driving in a NASCAR race.
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 points? Danger of death… sick and old age.
One can be in danger of death for many reasons. For example, someone who is about to undergo surgery requiring a general anesthesia could be in danger of death. People about to be executed or go into battle are in danger of death. Those are not really 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. Of course some people who are in need of surgery are in danger of death from the condition that requires the surgery. However, if I need to have surgery to set a broken bone in my wrist, I’m am not in danger of death.
Danger of death… sick and old age.
GO TO CONFESSION!
You don’t know when it is going to be your turn.