Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick (Part 3)

Today, we shall conclude our discussions on this topic by answering a few questions that came up from some readers.

Please, can a non baptized person who attends a catholic church be pardoned , and receive the oil at the point of death? Godwin, Hohoe

The simple answer to this question is that, such a person doesn’t even need the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick as far as salvation is concerned. What he or she needs is baptism which washes away his sins. So such a person should be baptized and if possible, receive the Holy Eucharist.

The same applies to a person in danger of death who is not baptized and does not attend a Catholic Church also.

In danger of death, anybody at all can baptize a person who is not already baptized.

Therefore everyone should learn the formula for baptism, so that, if it happens that someone who has not been baptized is in danger of death and there is no priest available, you can baptize. [ …Name… I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. (while pouring water on the person’s head three times.)]. The use of water and the proper words, together with the right intention are necessary for the validity of baptism.

In danger of death, many laws are suspended! Even a pagan who understands baptism can baptize, with the intention of doing what the Church does.

After such a baptism, quickly inform the nearest priest available whether the person dies afterwards or not and he will do all other things required of him.

Note that outside this emergency situation no person can go about baptising people apart from a Deacon, Priest or Bishop. These are the ordinary ministers of baptism.

What if the person in danger of death is a baptised non Catholic? Can he or she receive the sacrament? Francis, Battor

The short answer is, yes, a non-Catholic can receive the anointing of the sick, in special situations. Let me explain.

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ died to save all people. He won superabundant grace for us by His death on the Cross. The Church teaches that a person must be in the state of grace when he or she dies in order to get to heaven. One of the most effective means for grace is the sacraments, so we want to do whatever we can to provide the sacraments to all of the baptized, Catholic or not. For that reason, the Church allows baptized non-Catholic Christians to receive not only the anointing of the sick, but also the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist in “special circumstances”. Chief among those circumstances is when a person is in danger of death.

In these cases, there is only one requirement: the person must ask for the sacrament, and if the attending priest explains things clearly and has some pastoral skill and grace on his side, the gravely ill person usually wants to receive such sacraments.

This case is provided for in the Code of Canon Law: “If there is a danger of death . . . Catholic ministers may lawfully administer these same sacraments [penance, Eucharist, anointing of the sick] to other Christians not in full communion with the Catholic Church, who cannot approach a minister of their own community and who spontaneously ask for them, provided that they demonstrate the Catholic faith in respect of these sacraments and are properly disposed” (Canon 844.4).

With this, we close down curtains on this topic. We have so far successfully treated the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance and Reconciliation, and Anointing of the Sick. Next week Monday, we shall begin discussion on Holy Orders.

Till then, remember to pray your rosary in this gracious month of May. And kindly pray for me always.

God bless you.

Padre Antonio
(WhatsApp number: +233 541 859198)

(You may whatsapp your questions and contributions for further clarifications)


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