Sacrament ofANOINTING OF THE SICK
“Heal the sick!’ The Church has received this charge from the Lord and strives to carry it out by taking care of the sick as well as by accompanying them with her prayers of intercession. She believes in the life-giving presence of Christ, the physician of souls and bodies.” (CCC 1509)
“He took our infirmities and bore our diseases”
Illness in Human Life (CCC 1500-1501)
The Catechism (CCC1500-1501) states: “Illness and suffering have always been among the gravest problems confronted in human life. In illness, man experiences his powerlessness, his limitations, and his finitude. Every illness can make us glimpse death. Illness can lead to anguish, self-absorption, sometimes even despair and revolt against God.”
The Church teaches that sin, sickness, suffering and death came into the world when Adam and Eve rebelled against God. Since then, sickness has been a part of our lives here on earth. It afflicts saint and sinner alike. As the Catechism states above, sickness can be very destructive. It can lead to mental depression, feelings of isolation, discouragement, despair, self-absorption and, worst of all, a sense of feeling of abandonment by God.
On the other hand, an encounter with sickness can become a point of great spiritual awakening. The Catechism (1501) states that sickness “can make a person more mature, helping him discern in his life what is not essential so that he can turn toward that which is. Very often illness provokes a search for God and a return to Him.
It was during a time of recuperation from injuries that St. Francis of Assisi and St. Ignatius of Loyola turned their lives over to God. Many people who have had a brush with death decide to live a life more focused on God and in service of others.
Jesus’ Response to Sickness (CCC 1503-1505)
Jesus’ care for the sick is the focus of a great number of stories in the four gospels. Again and again, Jesus is a visible, tangible sign of God’s special care for all who are struck down with sickness. Moved by the suffering of the sick, Jesus makes their pain his own: “He took our infirmities and bore our diseases” (Mt 8:17).
Jesus Transmits to His Disciples His Power to Heal
(CCC 1506-1510 )
In Mk 6:7-13, we read that Jesus “summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over unclean spirits… So they went off and preached repentance. They drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil, many who were sick, and cured them.”
As we read through the pages of the Acts of the Apostles, we see many examples of the Apostles, empowered by the Holy Spirit, healing the sick (Acts 2:43, 3:1-10, 4:29-31, 5:12-16). The opening quote in the article from James, traditionally used as the scriptural foundation for the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, suggests that the recipient of the sacrament could expect both spiritual and physical healing.
” (Mt 8:17).
While Jesus’ concern for the sick was legendary, his compassion pointed to a deeper concern, namely, the healing of the soul, one’s relationship with God. This is especially shown when Jesus heals the paralytic. Before even treating the paralytic’s physical infirmity, Jesus heals his spiritual paralysis: “Your sins are forgiven” (Mk 2:5). The worst form of illness is sickness of the soul, the sickness that keeps us disconnected from God and causes us to think that God has abandoned us.
Cathedral of the Sacred Heart
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