The Anointing of the Sick is one of the seven sacraments of the Church established by Our Lord. It is a sacrament of healing.
The emphasis of this sacrament has changed somewhat in the past 50 years. Immediately before that time the sacrament had in practice become reserved for those who were dying. Hence it was called Extreme Unction, meaning “last anointing”.
In recent times this sacrament has been given a more central place in the life of the Church. Anointing strengthens and heals us in the course of our journey of life and not just at the moment of death.
Those who have a serious illness may receive the sacrament of Anointing. It is not appropriate to receive this sacrament for minor ailments. If in doubt you may ask the priest to help you decide. This sacrament may also be received by those who are elderly if the advancement of years is significantly affecting their quality of life. This is considered by the Church to be a good reason for receiving the strength and grace that the sacrament of Anointing bestows.
For those who are close to death it is appropriate to request the priest to give the “last rites” which includes the sacrament of Anointing.