One of the purposes of a visit from a chaplain or a pastoral volunteer is to acquaint you with the sacramental services that can be provided for you during your hospital stay.
One of the great joys of Catholic patients in a Catholic hospital is the privilege of being able to receive Holy Communion. Our Lord in the Eucharist is the Divine Physician. He can heal one’s whole person.
Communion is normally distributed to patients in their rooms six days per week except for Saturday.. Communion can be made available daily, if you desire. Just ask your nurse or call us from your bedside phone.
Arrangements can be made to have a hospital priest hear a patient’s confession. Just ask your nurse or call us from your bedside phone.
Anointing of the Sick
Formerly called Extreme Unction or “Last Rites,” this sacrament is now called the Anointing of the Sick or Sacrament of the Sick. It is a prayer for healing, a living sign of the place of suffering in the mystery of salvation. Since the reception of this sacrament also includes a full and complete absolution from all sins and formerly could only be received once during a person’s lifetime, this sacrament was frequently put off until the near approach of death.
Now, however, this sacrament may be received once during any serious illness. Since it is a sacrament of healing, it is highly encouraged to be given at the onset of illness, while the recipient is hopefully conscious and able to join as fully as possible in the meaning of the sacrament. Not only does the Church desire that the sick person be able to participate as fully and responsibly as possible, but also that it be celebrated in the company of family, friends and other members of the Christian community. For these reasons, the Church requests that the sacrament be celebrated at the beginning of a serious illness, rather than at its end. The sacrament can be received again later on in life if the patient undergoes another serious illness.
In keeping with the sacrament’s intent, patients and their families should keep in mind:
- The Anointing of the Sick is for all adult Christians who are seriously ill: people who have contracted a serious illness (one that might lead to death); those who have been ill for a long time; and those who are elderly and are beginning to fail.
- Ideally, the sick person should be the one to request the anointing. Family members also can make the request if they can honestly relay the patient’s wishes. The sacrament should not be “sneaked in” at the request of the family if they are reasonably certain the patient would not request it if she or he were conscious.
- Preferably, the anointing should be celebrated at the beginning of a serious illness, with family and friends present when the sick person is conscious. The anointing is not to be done after death has occurred. The teaching of the Church is that Anointing of the Sick is for the living.
- If you have further questions regarding the sacrament or its meaning, or if you want to receive the anointing, you can talk to the chaplain in your area, or call Pastoral Care Services at 734-712-3800.
Prayers for the Dying
The Catholic Church also offers specific prayers and services for those who are dying. The sacrament for the dying is officially called Viaticum, the last Eucharist or food for the journey. The Church also has prayers of commendation for the dying and for those who have died. While a priest is necessary for the Anointing of the Sick, any chaplain may lead the rites for the dying and the dead.
In the Catholic Church, the sacrament of Baptism is not only the celebration of the initiation into the Church, but also an initiation into a local Christian community. Therefore, Baptism, except in emergency situations, is to be administered in your local parish. Chaplains will assist in any emergency situation, or will help you contact your local parish priest.