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Parish of the Immaculate Conception + St. Mary's Church at 50 Ball Street, Port Jervis, NY 12771 US - Anointing of the Sick

Anointing of the Sick

Dear Parish Family and Others,

In the Letter of James in the New Testament, we find,

"Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint (him) with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven." (James 5:15).

The are many misconceptions concerning The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. Hopefully, this will help to clear some of this.

You should know that, IF YOU ARE FACING SICKNESS OR SURGERY, there is powerful help available for you here in our Church when you or someone in your family is facing a serious life-threatening medical problem. Especially at these moments, we need to be spiritually fortified and we want the peace that God alone can give us.

For these times in our lives, Jesus has given His Church a special sacrament, called The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. This sacrament brings God’s healing power to baptized persons who have become seriously ill, who are facing surgery, or have become weak because of old age.

People should receive The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick early in their physical and spiritual battle. If you are going into the hospital for a serious test or surgery, we invite and urge you to speak with a priest beforehand and receive three powerful sacraments that can help you.

  • The Sacrament of Reconciliation - it is good at this time to go to Confession so that you can have a clear conscience, be freed of your sins and assured of God’s forgiveness.
  • The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick - then the priest will anoint you in this other powerful sacrament, praying that it be God’s will that you recover your health;
  • Holy Communion - climaxing the celebration, making it clear that the Lord is always present to His people, you and your loved ones can receive Jesus, Our Lord in the Eucharist.

So, IF YOU ARE GOING TO A HOSPITAL, I encourage you to receive the sacraments that can help you. If you are going to Mercy Hospital, you can receive them there. Just talk to either Father McDonald or me after Mass, call the Rectory, or inform the Admissions staff, and we will be happy to arrange to hear your confession, anoint you with The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, and give you Holy Communion, to help you through this spiritually challenging time.

If you are not going to Mercy Hospital, YOU SHOULD BE ANOINTED HERE BEFORE GOING TO THE HOSPITAL. While patients and staff can, very fortunately, call for the sacramental and pastoral services of a Catholic priest while in a hospital, a fact of hospital life today is that patients are often in and out very fast. Although we are spoiled here, having Father McDonald at our disposal, in other places, before a procedure, it is possible that a priest will not be able to see you as soon as you want. Therefore, it is better for you to come or call here and receive the sacraments, beforehand. Then too, if you wish, your name can be included in the petitions at Mass and you can receive the benefit of the prayers of the community during your illness. Our parish family will know what you are undergoing and can more likely visit and support you through your recovery.

Lots of people like to deny that they are sick or in need of prayers and that keeps people from getting what they deserve. You may also need to confront and replace the old idea that people should be anointed only at the hour of death. People once called this anointing and prayers "The Last Rites" as if it was only for people who were nearly or already dead. That image is wrong. This is a sacrament (a tangible sign of God’s love) for the living.

Your whole person can be helped by your stronger identification with Christ. Sickness is not a total disaster. If we turn to God with our complaints and fears, letting Him answer us in His own ways, and if we cooperate with those who can help us, then any sickness can end in God’s glory. One of the official documents of the Church says this:

Suffering and illness have always been among the greatest problems that trouble the human spirit. Christians feel and experience pain, as do all other people; yet their faith helps them to grasp more deeply the mystery of suffering and to bear their pain with greater courage. From Christ’s words they know that sickness has meaning and value for their own salvation and for the salvation of the world. They also know that Christ, who during His life often visited and healed the sick, loves them in their illness.

We therefore urge you, if you have become seriously ill, are facing surgery, or have become weak because of old age, to seek the spiritual help that you are entitled to have and get the benefit of the sacraments Jesus Christ has entrusted to His Church for you.

God's peace,


Father Dennis M. Dinan



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