Blog 15 anointing of the sick, confession and death “working paper

We read in the General Introduction in the Rite of ‘Anointing of the Sick’ (p 30) Continuous Rite “For special cases, when sudden illness or some other cause has unexpected placed one of the faithful in proximate danger of death, a continuous rite is provided by which a person may be given the sacrament of penance, anointing, and the Eucharist as viaticum in a single celebration.

If death is imminent and there is not enough time to celebrate the three sacraments in the manner already described, the sick person should be given an opportunity to make a sacramental confession, even if it has to be a generic confession. After the person should be given viaticum, since all the faithful are bound to receive this sacrament if they are in danger of death. Then, if there is sufficient time, the sick person should be anointed.”

This paragraph in the General Introduction is clearly showing the differences between confession and anointing. That the person at danger of death it is more important for them to make a confession ‘Even is has to be a generic confession.’ What the General Introduction is saying is that confession is the proper sacrament to forgive sins. The Sacrament of anointing should not be used to undermine what is proper to the sacrament of confession. Again as St Thomas would say “Extreme Unction is not primarily oriented towards the forgiveness of sin, but rather healing the effects of sins.”

I think it is very interesting that the General Introduction says that in danger of proximate death it is more important for the person to receive the sacrament of confession.  As the General Introduction says “Then, if there is sufficient time, the sick person should be anointed.” The fact that anointing takes away sins, (I would argue venial not moral) is for the person who is unconscious and is not able mentally physically to confession. The sacrament is not meant to be an easy way out for people who simply don’t want to go to confession because the sacrament of Anointing takes away sin.

 

 

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