Anointing of the Sick

Today Kieran received his second Sacrament: anointing of the sick. It is also called Extreme Unction, and is commonly thought of being given on one’s death bed. While it is indeed given then, the requirements are only that one begin to be in danger of death, and be of the age of reason (there is some leeway here for the priest’s discretion).

How is Kieran beginning to be in danger of death? Well, he’s going under anaesthesia on Friday. While that is normally quite safe, there is always a risk of death associated with it, and therefore he qualifies under that requirement. He isn’t quite 7, which is normally seen as the lower limit for the age of reason, but he will be 7 in November and is preparing for his first Confession and Holy Communion, so Father deemed that he was close enough, provided Kieran understood what the Sacrament did.

What is the Sacrament, exactly? It’s a Sacrament of (primarily spiritual) healing. The priest anoints the sick person’s forehead and hands and lays hands on him while praying for God’s healing of the person. Like all the Sacraments, it conveys Sanctifying Grace, forgiving sins as well. It is often given in conjunction with Confession and the Eucharist, but since Kieran hasn’t received those yet, he just had the Anointing. It was really lovely, and I’m glad it was done. He knows it is primarily about spiritual healing, and that it will give him strength and help him not to be afraid, which is wonderful.

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