A Note From Fr. Jeremy
The Availability of the Anointing
Brothers and Sisters,
Recently, a friend of mine went through a very scary medical situation. This friend of mine needed to be taken to an emergency room and – following that – needed to be admitted into an intensive care unit (or “ICU”). This friend of mine, currently, is still in a situation that requires a great deal of medical attention and a long road to (hopefully) a full recovery.
I bring this up for two reasons. First, we should pray everyday for those in our parishes, those in our circles of family and friends, and others as well who may be going through tough times – including tough times in physical and mental health. The second reason is that I want to remind all of us of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. Anointing of the Sick, along with Confession, is one of the two sacraments of healing. These two sacraments are intended to help all of us as we go through the tough times of everyday life. These sacraments can be received many times and can be received even on a regular basis.
Over the years that I have been a priest, I have often found that people are reluctant to ask a priest for the Anointing of the Sick. My guess is that there are two primary reasons for this reluctance. One reason is that many people understand the Anointing of the Sick as something that is only done at the end of life. The sacrament was formerly known as “extreme unction” and there was a strong sense that it was only given at the end of one’s life; however the Church writes this about the Anointing of the Sick: “as soon as anyone of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for the receiving of this sacrament has certainly already arrived (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1514).
The second reason, I believe, is that so many of the faithful understand that the priests of the Church are busy. So many times, I have come to see a dying Christian who informed me that he or she did not want to bother me (the priest) because the dying people know how busy priests are these days. Now, I certainly appreciate that people are understanding of how busy priests can be. I also want to let people know that if you are seriously ill and need grace from the sacrament, please do contact the parish offices and let us know. I am grateful that Saint Cloud Hospital has priests on staff for emergencies as well as for people who are in the hospital for any period of time.
The sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is a great gift. I hope that all who are in need of the sacrament will ask for it.
God be near, Fr. Jeremy Ploof