Anointing of the Sick
By the sacred anointing of the sick and the prayer of the priests the whole Church commends those who are ill to the suffering and glorified Lord, that he may raise them up and save them. and indeed she exhorts them to contribute to the good of the People of God by freely uniting themselves to the Passion and death of Christ.
Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1499
Jesus healed the sick; and in the early Church, this ministry of healing continued (cf. Acts 3:1-10), as it does for us today.
Healing is not the same as curing:
One never speaks of healing a disease, only of healing a person. A cure is an end; so is a healing, but in a very different way. Healing is rather a transition, a threshold between one stage of one’s existence and the next. Thus, it is often a beginning for an element of a life story that was not there before.
A cure is outwardly applied; where does healing come from? Partly it comes from the one who heals, but something must also arise from the one who is being healed. We cannot be healed against our will.
So healing comes about through the meeting of two people. It is a kind of conversation between the two, and they have to believe in each other. The one who is sick must believe in the healer, but the healer must also believe in the one he or she is caring for. And thus it is ultimately our faith that makes us whole.
Rev. J. M. Brewer, September 7, 2013
The One who heals is Christ: this healing comes through the ministry of the priest; it is the work of the Church realized – like all sacraments – through word and action.
The following books may be of interest if you would like to learn more:
- Healing: Bringing the Gift of God’s Mercy to the World, by Mary Healy, Our Sunday Visitor, 2015
- Living with Illness and Suffering: The Catholic Way to Hope and Healing, Catholic Truth Society, 2010
- Companion in Illness, by Victor Hoagland, Catholic Book Publishing Corp., 1998
The Liturgy Office of England and Wales has produced some helpful resources: