LAST RITES (EXTREME UNCTION)
The ministration known as the last rites in the Catholic Church does not constitute a distinct sacrament in itself. It is rather a set of sacraments given to people who are believed to be near death. These are the sacraments of Anointing of the Sick (which, in spite of not being reserved for the dying, is sometimes mistakenly supposed to be what is meant by “the last rites”), Penance and the Eucharist. If all three are administered immediately one after another, the normal order of administration is: first Penance then Anointing, then Viaticum.
The last rites are meant to prepare the dying person’s soul for death, by providing absolution for sins by penance, sacramental grace and prayers for the relief of suffering through anointing, and the final administration of the Eucharist, known as “Viaticum,” which is Latin for “provision for the journey.”
Reception of the Eucharist in this form is the only sacrament essentially associated with dying. Accordingly, “the celebration of the Eucharist as Viaticum is the sacrament proper to the dying Christian”. In the Roman Ritual’s Pastoral Care of the Sick: Rites of Anointing and Viaticum, Viaticum is the only sacrament dealt with in Part II: Pastoral Care of the Dying.
Within that part, the chapter on Viaticum is followed by two more chapters, one on Commendation of the Dying, with short texts, mainly from the Bible, a special form of the litany of the saints, and other prayers, and the other on Prayers for the Dead. A final chapter provides Rites for Exceptional Circumstances, namely, the Continuous Rite of Penance, Anointing, and Viaticum, Rite for Emergencies, and Christian Initiation for the Dying. The last of these concerns the administration of Baptism and Confirmation to those who have not received these sacraments.
To arrange for the last Rites to be administered, please contact the parish office on 9743 1017 or email [email protected]
JOINING THE PRIESTHOOD
Contact the Parish Priest for information and guidance on this issue. An excellent website containing answers to many questions on this vocation can be accessed at vocationcentre.org.au.