Catechism of the Catholic Church


Why should the Church take special care of the sick?
Jesus shows us: Heaven suffers with us when we suffer. God even wants to be rediscovered in “the least of these my brethren.” (Mt 25:40) That is why Jesus designated care of the sick as a central task for his disciples. He commands them, “Heal the sick,” (Mt 10:8) and he promises them divine authority: “In my name they will cast out demons; … they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mk 16:17-18)

One of the distinctive characteristics of Christianity has always been that the elderly, the sick, and the needy are central to it. Mother Teresa, who cared for those who were dying in the gutters of Calcutta, is only one in a long series of Christian women and men who have discovered Christ precisely in those who were marginalized and avoided by others. When Christians are really Christian, a healing influence goes out from them. Some even have the gift of healing others physically in the power of the Holy Spirit (the charism of healing).


For whom is the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick intended?
The sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick can be received by any Catholic whose health is in a critical state.

One can receive the Anointing of the Sick several times in one’s life. Therefore it makes sense for young people to ask for this sacrament also, if, for example, they are about to undergo a serious operation. On such occasions many Catholics combine the Anointing of the Sick with a (general) confession; in case the operation fails, they want to go to meet God with a clear conscience.

How is the Anointing of the Sick administered?
The essential ritual by which the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is administered consists of an anointing of the forehead and hands with holy oil, accompanied by prayers.

Who can administer the Anointing of the Sick?
Administering the Anointing of the Sick is reserved for bishops and priests, for it is Christ who acts through them by virtue of their ordination.

What is meant by “Viaticum?”
Viaticum means the last Holy Communion that a person receives before dying.

Rarely is Communion so vitally necessary as in the moment when a person sets out on the path that completes his earthly life: In the future he will have only as much life as he has in union (= communion) with God.