The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick (formerly called "Extreme Unction" or "Last Rites") is administered to those who are gravely ill or are undergoing surgery, for the remission of sins and the provision of spiritual strength and health. No longer just about dying, the Church now stresses a secondary effect of the sacrament: to help a person recover his health. The sacrament may be received more than once, as appropriate.
The essential rite of the sacrament consists in the priest laying hands on the sick, anointing him or her with blessed oil, and praying "Through this holy anointing may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit. May the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up."
When circumstances permit, the Church recommends that the sacrament take place during Mass, or at least that it be preceded by Confession and followed by Holy Communion.
Received in faith and in a state of grace, the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick provides the recipient with:
- the strength to resist temptation in the face of death, when he or she is weakest
- union with the Passion of Christ, making his or her suffering holy
- the grace to prepare for death, to meet God in hope rather than in fear
If the recipient was not able to receive the Sacrament of Confession, Anointing also provides forgiveness of sins. And, if it will aid in the salvation of his soul, Anointing may restore the recipient's health.