“By the sacred anointing of the sick and the prayer of the priests the whole Church commends those who are ill to the suffering and glorified Lord, that he may raise them up and save them. And indeed she exhorts them to contribute to the good of the People of God by freely uniting themselves to the Passion and death of Christ.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1499)
The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is given to those who have encountered a serious illness that is threatening to them. The sacrament gives the supernatural grace first to resist the final temptation to despair our Lord’s mercy, but it also gives healing of the soul of venial sins and sometimes even healing of the body.
In the final moments of a Catholic’s life, he can be given what is known as the Last Rites. These Sacred Rites constitute the full arsenal of the Church’s blessings and graces that she has to offer the dying Christian. The priest who comes can hear the sick person’s confession. He can give these rites can immediately Confirm a Catholic in the faith if he has not yet received this sacrament. The priest then also gives Anointing of the Sick to the sick, gives the sick the Apostolic Pardon, and finally the sick is able to receive Viaticum. The Apostolic Pardon is a special blessing all priests are able to give as an individual approaches death to which a plenary indulgence is attached. If the individual is well disposed to received this indulgence, then by the merits of Christ’s cross he is released from the need of purgatory. Holy Viaticum is the final reception of the Holy Eucharist, the ‘food for the journey.’ Indeed, what better way can there be to prepare for death than to receive the very foretastes of eternal life, the very Body and Blood of Christ?