“Is any among you sick? Let them call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven” (James 5:14-5). These are the words of St. James and he leaves no doubt that the sacrament of Unction is established by God. Historically, it is proven that the sacrament of Unction was celebrated in conjunction with Repentance and Confession.
From these words of St. James the purpose of the sacrament is vividly clear. It is bodily healing and forgiveness of sins. And as the priest anoints with Holy Unction, he says that this sacrament is for the “healing of the soul and the body.”
The sacrament of Holy Unction is celebrated every time a Christian needs it. As we noted in a previous lesson, the sacrament is not an obligatory, but a voluntary sacrament. It is good, though, for all Christians to draw near to this sacrament. This is why our Church has laid down that the sacrament be celebrated in Church every Holy Wednesday.
Just as with all sacraments, so too here, if we expect to have the proper results we must accept the sacrament with faith. Of course, an ill person is not always healed, because God may have another plan for him.
Holy Unction does not replace Repentance and Confession. In essence, the forgiveness of sins comes through faith in God, sincere repentance, and confession of sins.
The sacrament is celebrated with olive oil, reading of Holy Scripture, blessings, prayers, and anointing in the form of the cross.
Holy and Heavenly Father, Who are the perfect physician doctor of our souls and bodies, Who sent Your only begotten Son–our Lord Jesus Christ–to heal every illness and redeem us from death, hear our prayers. Touch us with Your fatherly hand and with Your divine grace. Heal us from every bodily and spiritual illness. Give us life. Give our bodies life, freeing them from every illness. Give our souls life, cleansing them from every sin. Guide our steps to the sacrament of Holy Unction. Make us receive it with true faith, repentance, and be filled with life, physically and spiritually. O, Lord, how greatly we thank You for the sacraments of our Church, through which our salvation is accomplished.