Sacrament of the Sick
This weekend’s bulletin departs from my ongoing
reflection on the Bread of Life discourse to address a
special ministry in the Church--the Anointing of the Sick.
First and foremost, I invite you to the next Sunday’s
celebration of the sacrament during the 9:30am mass.
Second, I address the three important talking points
about the Anointing of the Sick: The theology of illness
and healing, the Sacrament itself and our parish
procedures and recommendations for requesting
Anointing of the Sick.
As we know, illness is part of human life. At some point,
each of us experiences illness. Through our Christian faith,
however, we can always draw valuable spiritual insights
while dealing with illness.
Throughout Jesus’ healing ministry, Jesus understood the
horror and fear surrounding illness, both in the person
and in the society. At that time, in addition to physical
limitations due to illness, people also endured rejection
and expulsion from the community, in part because they
were deemed unclean. Jesus’ outlook on sickness and
illness entailed compassion. He experienced the pain of
others’ illnesses to the very core of His being and longed
to heal them and restore them to the community.
That compassion in Jesus was commanded to the disciples
and continues in the Church today through the Sacrament
of Anointing of the Sick. While sickness can cause people
to feel despair, pain, and challenge, it can also give
them an opportunity to receive God’s grace and strength.
Illness can even bring about a conversion moment insofar
as the Sacrament may inspire them to deepen their faith
By laying hands on a sick person (as Jesus and the
disciples did), the priest signifies a sacred purpose, a
changed reality and a blessing. Traditionally, the laying
on of hands was also seen as a sign of mission for God.
In the practice of the Church’s sacramental ministry to the
sick, laying on of hands invokes the Holy Spirit to bestow
courage and strength on the sick person.
With Vatican Council II, the liturgical nature of this
sacrament was emphasized, making it an action of
a community of believers. This Council also emphasized
that the Sacrament is to be seen as Christ’s healing
ministry (James 5: 14-15) rather than as a last rite
for the dying. Because of this, the Church deemed it
acceptable for people to receive the Sacrament more
than once. Careful judgment about the gravity of the
illness is sufficient for one to receive the Sacrament.
Additionally, people, frail because of age, can receive the
Sacrament even though they have no life-threatening
illness as can people about to undergo surgery. The
prayed-for effect of the Sacrament is that if it be God’s
will, the person will receive physical healing. Even if
physical healing is not realized, the primary effect of the
Sacrament is spiritual healing. The person receiving the
Sacrament is granted the grace of peace and courage to
deal with the challenges of illness or old age. Another
element in the Sacrament of the Sick is that a sick person’s
sins are forgiven if that person is unable to go to confession
before the Sacrament of the Sick is administered. For
this reason, only a bishop or an ordained priest can
administer the Sacrament of the Sick, using the Oil of the
Sick which is blessed by the bishop for parish use in this
Thus, I encourage parishioners experiencing illness to
make every effort to receive the Sacrament of the Sick.
If you are at home, please call the rectory office at
847-729-1414 to make arrangements to receive the
Sacrament. If you are admitted to the hospital, be sure
to indicate that you are a Catholic and request Pastoral
Care. If you mention your parish, the chaplain may
contact us and request that a priest visit you. At
Glenbrook Hospital, priests from OLPH, St. Norbert,
and St. Catherine take turns to accommodate patients’
sacramental needs. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, I am
responsible for any priestly duty at Glenbrook
Hospital. Advocate Lutheran General Hospital has a
full-time priest and parishes near the hospital also help
to cover any priestly duty.
I pray that anyone who is sick, recovering from a serious
injury, or feeling frail in old age will take advantage of
this Sacrament when in need. I also echo the invitation
extended in the past few weeks to come for the communal
Sacrament of the Sick during the 9:30am mass next
Sunday. I will also be available after all masses to offer
the healing sacrament to anyone who cannot attend the
9:30am mass. As always, I will make myself available
for this crucial ministry whenever asked and I thank all
Ministers of Care for praying with and distributing
communion to all the sick people in our community. Their
dedication and love for ministry brings the healing touch
of Jesus. God bless them for the good work they do.
May God bless you and your family.
With you a Christian, for you a priest