What is the last rites?

Like Baptism, Confirmation and Marriage, Last Unction is a sacrament of the Roman Catholic Church. The last rites, which could still be given to the seriously ill until the end of 1973, looked like this: A priest anointed the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, hands and feet of the sick person and said the following sentences: “Through this holy anointing and through his merciful mercy, the Lord forgive you what you have sinned by seeing, hearing, speaking,  smelling, Touch and do. Amen.” This early Christian ritual can be traced back to the New Testament. In ancient times, too, anointing was seen as a means of healing to slip away from opponents smoothly.Oil also helped to heal the wounds faster.

“Last Rites” has been replaced by “Anointing of the Sick”.

Today the “Last Rites” is referred to as “Anointing of the Sick”. The priest only anoints the forehead (for the soul) and the palms of the hands (for the body) and says the prayer. An anointing oil blessed by the bishop, usually  olive oil , is used for this . Catholics or members of a Christian church who are seriously ill may receive the Anointing of the Sick.

Anointing of the sick is not a sacrament of death

Many (mis)understand the last rites or the anointing of the sick exclusively as a sacrament of death, because the priest was called to the terminally ill at the very last minute, often too late. However, the original purpose of prayer and anointing was to save the sick from death and make him well. The Bible says that Jesus healed many sick people. He was therefore also called “Saviour”. Anointing means “Mashiah” in Hebrew and became “Messiah” in German vernacular. The Greek name for anoint is “Chriein”, from which “Christ” (the anointed) was derived.

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