From a reader…
I have received extreme unction four times since April.
Does the Anointing *always* forgive sins or are there conditions that must be met. I’m worried now since through my own lack of planning COVID-19 and just being disabled, and sick I’ve not confessed since last year. I know i know. But it’s no longer a wheelchair ride away.
Anointing forgives sins sometimes, not all the time. There are conditions.
The effects of the Sacrament of Anointing or Anointing of the Sick or, sometimes, Extreme Unction, are:
- To increase sanctifying grace in a moment of great need (danger of death)
- To console the person
- To strengthen against temptation
- To heal the body
- To forgive mortal sins when a person is incapable of confessing them or is unaware of his state of soul
Anointing was placed in the category of “sacraments of the living”, a handy way of saying that for them to be as effective as they can be, we must receive them while “alive”, that is, not “dead in sin”, that 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 her 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.
How merciful is our God?