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Christs Healing: Reconciliation and Anointing
Bible Verse:
Is there anyone sick among you? He should ask for the presbyters of the Church. They in turn are to
pray over him, anointing him with oil in the Name (of the Lord). This prayer uttered in faith will reclaim
the one who is ill, and the Lord will restore him to health. If he has committed any sins, forgiveness will
be his. (Jas 5:14-15)
1761. But Christ foresaw that human ills and weaknesses would lead even baptized Christians to turn
aside from (their) first love (cf. Rv 2:4). He therefore empowered his apostles with the Holy Spirit to
bring Gods own healing and forgiveness of sins they committed after baptism (cf. Jn 20:21-23). The
primary reality for Christians, then, is not human suffering and sin, but Gods healing and
forgiveness of sin. We go so far as to make God our boast through our Lord Jesus Christ through
whom we have now received reconciliation. (Rom 5:10)
1762. This chapter on Christs healing, embracing both the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the
Sacrament of Anointing, flows directly from the preceding chapters of Part III of this Catechism. For it
is the Holy Spirit (Chap. 22) who brings Gods healing and forgiveness, and reconciles us with one
another. This is effected through the ministry of our Christian community, the Church (Chap. 23), in
sacramental rituals of worship (Chap. 24). These Sacraments of Healing flow from the Sacraments
of Initiation. The primary sacrament of forgiveness is Baptism (Chap. 25), through which we are freed
from sin and are joined to the Risen Christ our Savior, in his Body the Church. Moreover, the
Eucharist (Chap. 26), in which we celebrate Christs redeeming sacrifice, repairs our less grievous
injuries and reconciles us in our loving relationships with God and our neighbor.
1763. This chapter is particularly important because Vatican II initiated a major renewal in the
understanding of both Sacraments of Healing. First, the common names of both Sacraments have been
changed to bring out the deeper, fuller meaning of the faith-realities involved: Grace, Sin,
Contrition, Forgiveness, Sickness, and Healing. Second, the image of Christ as healing
Physician is regained.
Lastly, both Reconciliation and Anointing deal with basic issues of daily
Christian living of what it means to follow Jesus Christ as his disciples in everyday life.
1764. Filipinos are known the world over for their many healing ways, and especially for their deep
personal relationships. Thus, both Sacraments of Healing: Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick,
touch something deeply rooted in our culture. The Filipinos deeply-felt desire for Gods forgiveness,
and for spiritual healing and reconciliation, is clearly manifested through various prayer
and charismatic groups, and in social service activities. Spiritual counseling, almsgiving for the
people caught in natural disasters, fasting for spiritual favors, and many perduring devotional
healing and penitential practices, all have shown remarkable growth in recent years.
1765. Unfortunately, superstition and ignorance impede the full flowering of these basic Christian
values. Simple, good-willed people feel reconciled with God through a once-a-year devotional
procession, or fulfilling some personal panata. Healing is often sought through the various faith
healers, miraculous statues, pilgrimages to sites of alleged apparitions, and the like. Thus the urgent
need for an adequate catechesis in both these sacraments of healing, a truly inculturated catechesis
that can draw on the valuable elements of our Filipino Folk Catholicism in bringing the truth and
value of Christs healing to the Filipino Catholic of today. We shall take up the specific context and
exposition of Reconciliation first, followed by our exposition of Anointing.
1822. All sacraments heal in some way. For example, Marriage heals self-centeredness; Confirmation
heals the fear of witnessing to Christ; Penance/Reconciliation heals our sinfulness. But this Sacrament
of Anointing is healing in a special sense: it brings Christs compassionate loving healing to bear on
those suffering serious sickness (cf. CCC 1499). By healing we do not necessarily mean a cure or
the eradication of the disease or defect, which the medical profession pursues. While some diseases
and evils may be incurable in the medical sense, there can be healing by holistic care that
touches the body, soul, and spirit of the sick person (cf. 1 Thes 5:23). Healing, then, means the
process by which persons are helped to realize their full potential before God and their fellow men and
women. The Good News is primarily about healing, not cure in the current medical sense.

A. Sickness
1823. We have all experienced sickness at some time in our lives (cf. CCC 1500-1). Many of us have
suffered from serious and prolonged illness, either personally or through persons close to us. Through
this experience, we become painfully aware of the many serious effects in body and spirit of grave and
prolonged illness. Serious illness brings out our powerlessness and radical limitations as
nothing else does. When in good health, we are active, feel useful and needed by others, a real part of
the community. But when serious sickness strikes us, we can no longer act as we would. We become
completely dependent on others, feel useless and isolated from them and from the community. Worry
and anxiety begin to depress us, and sometimes even tempt our Christian Faith. Why did God send
me this sickness? What did I do to deserve this?
1824. On the other hand, sickness can bring us to a more mature Faith, helping us to
discern what is really important in our life, against all the superficial, passing attractions that so often
dominate us. As Christians, our Faith helps us to understand better the mystery of suffering and to
bear pain more bravely. From Christs words we know that sickness has meaning and value for our own
salvation and for others. We also know how Christ loved the sick, and often healed them of their
infirmities (cf. IRA 1).
B. Sickness and Sin
1825. Serious sickness and pain bring before us the threat of death, and show the power of evil in the
world. Many Filipinos relate sickness directly to personal sin, much like the disciples did in asking
Jesus: Rabbi, was it his sin or that of his parents that caused him to be born blind? Jesus answered
Neither . . . it was to let Gods work show forth in him (Jn 9:2-3). Christ was sinless, yet it was our
infirmities he bore, our sufferings he endured (Mt 8:17) to free us from our sins and death.
Moreover, Christ still suffers whenever we suffer, members of his Body, the Church.
1826. But while a particular sickness is not usually directly related to a specific sin, sickness and sin
are nevertheless related in a more general way. Sickness is the concrete sign of the deeper, more
general spiritual evil in the world. Since sickness weakens us and pulls us down, it lays bare our
helplessness and our need for care and support. Thus, sickness becomes the concrete symbol of
our inescapable need for deliverance from the ultimate evil of everlasting death. It is from this
basic evil that Jesus has liberated us.
C. Christian Attitude to Sickness
1827. As Christians, we realize that first, it is part of the plan laid down by Gods Providence that we
should struggle against all sickness and carefully seek the blessings of good health so that we can
fulfill our role in human society and in the Church (IRA 3). Secondly, we realize that sickness is a sign
not of a particular, personal sin, but of the oppressive presence of evil in our human situation.
Thirdly, this means that all those who are seriously ill need the special help of Gods grace lest, they
be broken in spirit and fall into temptations and the weakening of their faith (cf. IRA 5). Lastly, by
joining our sufferings with Christs, our very sufferings can take on creative, saving and
transforming meaning and value (cf. SD 24ff).
D. Christ the Physician
1828. Jesus came to redeem us from all evil and thus inaugurate the Kingdom of God. By
forgiving sin and healing the sick and infirm, Jesus showed that God had visited His people (cf. Lk
7:16) and the Reign of God was at hand (cf. Mk 1:15). He cleansed lepers (cf. Lk 17:12-19), gave
sight to the blind (cf. Mk 10:46-52), healed the deaf-mute (cf. Mk 7:31-37), the paralytic (cf. Mk 2:312),
the deformed (cf. Mk 3:1-6), those suffering from dropsy (cf. Lk 14:1-6) hemorrhage (cf. Mk 5:25-34),
and possession (cf. Mk 1:21-28; CCC 1503).
1829. But in healing, Jesus did not perform some sort of divine magic, nor did he intend to take the
place of all doctors and nurses by wiping out all sickness. He healed only a very small percentage of
the sick in Israel. Even the relatively few who were cured in body by Jesus would gradually yield to old
age and further ills. The real importance of the body-cures, then, was to act as signs of the more
radical healing over sin and death, the salvation of the whole person. Jesus never healed the body
as an end in itself, but always in view of bringing salvation to the whole person, body and soul.
Concretely, these healings involved faith in Jesus, and following him in loving obedience to God the
Father. Jesus healing ministry must ultimately be grounded in his own life of suffering, dying, and
rising from the dead, whereby he transformed the whole meaning of sickness and death. At one and

the same time Christ has taught us to do good by our suffering and to do good to those who suffer
(SD 30; cf. CCC 1504-5).
E. The Healing Church
1830. Jesus taught this care for the sick to all who would follow him and form his Church. In his
parable of the Good Samaritan (cf. Lk 10: 29-37; cf. SD 28ff) and his description of the Last Judgment,
Christ portrayed care for the sick and infirm as a basic corporal work of mercy and a norm for
judging our very salvation. He even identified himself with the sick: I was ill and you comforted me, in
prison and you come to visit me (Mt 25:36). Thus within the Church, while some have received a
special charism of healing from the Holy Spirit (cf. 1 Cor 12:9), all are called to visit the sick and
care for them (cf. CCC 1506).
1831. Jesus passed on this ministry of healing to his apostles in a particular form. Jesus summoned
the Twelve and began to send them . . . they anointed the sick with oil and worked many cures
(Mk 6:7,13). The Risen Christ promised the Eleven that the sick upon whom they laid their hands
would recover (cf. Mk 16:18). The Church fashioned the Sacrament of Anointing from these texts and
from James 5:14-15. Is there anyone sick among you? He should ask for the presbyters of the Church.
They in turn are to pray over him with oil in the Name [of the Lord]. This prayer uttered in faith will
reclaim the one who is ill, and the Lord will restore him health. If he has committed any sins,
forgiveness will be his. (Jas 5:14f, quoted by Trent; ND 1636; cf. CCC 1510).
1832. This text was used by Vatican II to revise and renew the Rite of the Sacrament of Anointing.
First, since the Sacrament is for baptized Christians who are sick, not only for those who are at the
point of death, (cf. SC 73; CCC 1514) its name is changed from Extreme Unction to Anointing of
the Sick. The revised ritual makes a clear distinction between Pastoral Care of the Sick, climaxed
in the Anointing of the Sick, and of the Dying which focuses on Viaticum or the Eucharist withyou on-the-way to the next life. Second, the ministers of the sacrament are not the charismatic
healers, but the presbyters (priests), the elders whose authority assures the communitys
solidarity and unity. They can, therefore, act in the name of the whole community. Vatican II teaches it
is the whole Church which commends those who are ill to the suffering and glorified Lord (LG 11;
cf. CCC 1516).
1833. Third, the sacrament heals not through any magic or natural medicinal causes, but through
the prayer of Faith and anointing in the name of the Lord. Vatican II urges the sick to
contribute to the good of the whole People of God by freely uniting themselves to the Passion and
Death of Christ (LG 11). Like the other sacraments, the Anointing of the Sick celebrates the Paschal
Mystery of Christ and incorporates those celebrating the sacrament more deeply into Christs Mystery.
1834. Thus, we see once more Christ as the Primordial Sacrament, and the Church as the
Foundational Sacrament, acting within this Sacrament of the Sick. The Risen Christ is the
Healer, acting within his Body, the Church, which applies the Name/power of the suffering and
glorified Lord to the sick Christian. Anointing is a sacrament of faith the sick person will be saved by
his faith and the faith of the Church which looks back to the Death and Resurrection of Christ, the
source of the sacraments power, and looks ahead to the future Kingdom which is pledged in the
sacraments (IRA 7).
1835. Lastly, practical-minded Filipino Catholics are often tempted to judge that the Sacrament
worked if the sick person got better, or failed if not. But this is a serious misunderstanding of the
Sacrament. Christs victory over sickness and death is not conditional but absolute. Celebrating the
Sacrament does two actions: it proclaims Christs victory to the sick person as a truth of Faith, and
elicits the sick persons response of Faith in the power of the Risen Christ who will give a new form
to this lowly body of ours and remake it according to the pattern of his glorified body (Phil 3:21). The
Sacraments healing is the total, personal healing, a saving and raising up of the whole person. No
amount of sickness, pain, suffering and death itself can shake our confident Faith that our ultimate
healing is assured in Christ Jesus.
F. Celebration of the Sacrament
1836. After the initial Greeting, and recommended Penitential Rite similar to the one used in the Mass,
the Sacrament consists of three distinct actions.
First, the prayer of faith in which the
community, the people of God represented by the priest, the family, friends and others, pray for those

to be anointed. Second, the laying on of hands imitating Jesus own gesture of healing (cf. Lk
4:40), and invoking the coming of the Holy Spirit who brings the blessing of Gods healing grace upon
the sick person. Third, Anointing with oil made holy by Gods blessing, signifying the
strengthening and healing that comes from the Spirit. Anointing the forehead and hands of the sick,
the priest prays: Through this holy anointing may the Lord, in His love and mercy, help you with the
grace of the Holy Spirit. Amen. May the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up. Amen
(cf. CCC 1513)
G. Effects of the Sacrament
1837. The new rite describes the Sacrament of Anointing as providing the sick person with the grace
of the Holy Spirit by which the whole person is brought to health, trust in God is encouraged, and
strength is given to resist the temptations of the Evil One, and anxiety about death (Pastoral Care of
the Sick 6; cf. CCC 1520). Sometimes even physical health is restored after receiving the Sacrament if
it will be beneficial to the sick persons salvation. When needed, the sacrament also offers the sick
person forgiveness of sins and completes the salutary penance (cf. Ibid).
1838. These effects are brought about by uniting the sick person with the Passion and Death of
the Primordial Sacrament, Christ, the Healer. Thus, the sacrament transforms the meaning and
significance of the sick persons illness into a sharing in the saving work of Jesus, the Redeemer, filling
up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of his body, the Church (cf. Col 1:24) and for
the salvation of the world as we look forward to all creation being set free in the glory of the children of
God (IRA 3; cf. CCC 1521). This union with Christ is an ecclesial grace, since the Church both
intercedes for the sick person, and is in turn blessed by the sick persons self-offering in faith. Thus,
the Church exercises its role as Foundational Sacrament in this Sacrament of Anointing (cf. CCC 1522).
A. Holy Viaticum
1839. The revised rituals Pastoral Care of the Dying describes how the Church cares for, comforts,
and strengthens the dying Catholic in the passage from this life (cf. CCC 1524). This ministry to the
dying which includes both anointing and the reception of the Eucharist as Viaticum, stresses trust in
the Lords promise of eternal life: He who feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood, has life eternal, and
I will raise him up on the last day (Jn 6:54).
The Eucharist as Viaticum completes and crowns our Christian life on earth. It vividly portrays
Christ as leading and accompanying the Christian into eternal glory and the banquet of the heavenly
Kingdom with all the saints and the blessed united together in the Holy Spirit before the Father. As
the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist constitute the unity of the Sacraments
of Initiation, so Penance, Anointing and Viaticum constitute the Sacraments which complete our
journey (CCC 1525).
B. Rite of Funerals
1840. We Filipinos are noted for the many family and cultural customs relating to death in the family.
The revised Rite for Funerals, while commending the dead to God, supporting the Christian hope of
the people and witnessing to faith in the resurrection of the baptized with Christ, stresses just such
customs. It advises Christians to seriously consider the feeling and practice of their own time and
place family traditions, and local customs (IRA 2). Contrary to some modern secularist tendencies
in western society to cover up the grieving process and eliminate all funeral rites, Filipinos are
very much attuned to the specifically Christian meanings of funeral rites.
1841. The new rite helpfully proposes the most significant meanings of Christian funeral rites: God is
worshipped, the Paschal nature of the Christians death is proclaimed, and Christian hope of
reunion in the Kingdom of God is strengthened (cf. 2 Cor 5:8; CCC 1681-83). Thanks and respects are
given for the life of the deceased; intercession is made for Gods mercy on the deceased; and the
bereaved family and friends are offered the consolation of faith in their very sorrow and grief. In brief,
through the Church ritual we pray for the dead, profess our faith in eternal life, and receive hope and
consolation in the liturgy while expressing our sorrowful farewell to our beloved dead (cf. CCC 168490).