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Pastoral Care of the Sick

Pastoral care of the sick is one of the most significant ways that we as the Body of Christ continue the mission and ministry of Jesus. As a Church, we have always taken seriously Jesus’ example of caring for the sick and our mandate to do the same. As a sacramental Church, we value the importance of sacraments in our lives as Catholics and the role of those sacraments at key moments such as times of serious illness.

As an area church, the Pontiac Area Vicariate has worked for over two years to improve our delivery of Pastoral Care services. Please use the resources here to learn more about Pastoral Care in the PAV.

Additional video presentations by Msgr. Zenz on the other sacraments are available at www.usccb.org/video/sacraments.shtml

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The following is the text of the presentation on Anointing of the Sick by Msgr. John Zenz:

One of the major ministries of Jesus was healing of the sick, even raising the dead to new life. And of course in the tradition of the church, we are very familiar with St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus, as being the patron saint of happy death. We can only imagine Joseph surrounded by Mary and Jesus as he went home to the heavenly father. In the Anointing of the Sick, as we continue the ministry of Jesus, we also recall the scripture passage on anointing that comes from St. James, chapter five, I quote from his very words, “ Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of the faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” ~ James 5:14-15.

These words of St. James are basically the structure and format that we follow in the Rite of Anointing of the Sick and as St. James says, it is our firm faith and conviction that this sacrament can bring healing a body and certainly of spirit. This sacrament then involves the community and allows the sick person to know that he or she is not alone in their pain.

Anointing of the Sick involves two gestures, one is the imposition of hands and the other is the anointing with oil. Throughout our reflections on the sacraments, we‘ve been emphasizing the hands, for many reasons, first of all again, the hands remind us of the power of God. They also remind us of the extension of the prayer of the Church, that reaches out to touch the person. The priest imposes hands on the person about to be anointed and prays for that person to receive the spirit of the healing power of Jesus. And then the priest anoints the person on the forehead and also on the hands. The anointing is of course done with sacred oil, oil blessed by the bishop on Holy Thursday at the Chrism Mass. And that same oil is used throughout the year in every hospital or nursing home or for house calls as we try to bring the healing power and presence of the Lord.

One of the important things about the Sacrament of the Sick is that it involves the whole community and links the sick person with the rest of the Church so that no one ever should feel alone. For that reason, many parishes encourage a communal rite of anointing once a year at one of the regular weekend liturgies. This helps everyone remember that we all have some need of healing, no matter what our age or what our circumstances, although the sacrament is primarily intended for those with chronic problems or urgent need. And so, at the time of anointing, many opportunities are presented for bringing the Holy Eucharist, if it’s in the hospital, maybe the priest will anoint and then give the Holy Eucharist or if it’s administered in a communal setting, it will truly have the celebration of the Holy Eucharist right there. And that too is appropriate, because the Holy Eucharist is the primary sacrament which builds up the body of Christ, the Church.

Anointing of the Sick is yet one more expression of the beautiful and powerful way the Lord Jesus wants to be with each Christian and with the whole Church as He has promised until the end of time. Yes, in deed, the sacraments are a way that God constantly claims us and reclaims us, as His own Holy people.