by Rev. Thomas Fitzgerald
When one is ill and in pain, this can very often be a time of life when one
feels alone and isolated. The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, or Holy
Unction as it is also known, remind us that when we are in pain, either
physical, emotional, or spiritual, Christ is present with us through the
ministry of his Church. He is among us to offer strength to meet the challenges
of life, and even the approach of death.
As with Chrismation, oil is also used in this Sacrament as a sign of God's presence, strength, and forgiveness. After the reading of seven epistle lessons, seven gospel lessons and the offering of seven prayers, which are all devoted to healing, the priest anoints the body with the Holy Oil. Orthodoxy does not view this Sacrament as available only to those who are near death. It is offered to all who are sick in body, mind, or spirit. The Church celebrates the Sacrament for all its members during Holy week on Holy Wednesday.