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Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Anointing The Sick

In medieval times the Christian rite of anointing the sick had become associated exclusively with rites for the dying. This was because in Europe knowledge of medical matters had deteriorated to the extent that usually a doctor was only called if death was near. As the rite of anointing the sick was seen as being spiritual healing it was similarly put off until the sick person was in danger of dying. The term “extreme unction” or “ last anointing” was introduced to describe this rite. Peter Lombard an Italian theologian listed “extreme unction” among the seven sacraments.

The first major document adopted by the Second Vatican Council in 1963 stated that ““Extreme Unction”, which is also known as  “Anointing the Sick” “is not a sacrament for those only at the point of death. Hence, as soon as one of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the appropriate time to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived.” In other words the Council had restored the sacrament to what it had been in the early days of the church-a ritual prayer of healing for the sick.

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