Extreme Unction (The Anointing of the Dying)
In the same vein, it may be asked, how many of the world's population are incognizant of the great Sacrament of Extreme Unction? Altogether inexcusable is the Protestant rejection of it, in view of the Scriptures' clear reference to it in St. James' Letter:Is any man sick among you? Let him bring in the priests of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith shall save the sick man; and the Lord shall raise him up: and If he be In sins, they shall be forgiven him.
(James. 5:14, 15).
Who does not know that Catholics (used to) call for the priest when the threat of death comes? And how well non-Catholics know that their ministers can bring them only words of comfort and encouragement. What excuse can any man offer for not listening to the Church, when it proffers him divine mercy, forgiveness of all his sins, strength to meet death's assault, and the grace of eternal salvation?
Great indeed are the effects of this Sacrament, described all too meekly in the catechism and spoken of too infrequently of by preachers. Indeed, such are the power and wonder of this Sacrament, that its existence alone should bring all men into the Church. To think that the Lord Jesus has given us a Sacrament which, if received with proper disposition takes away all the sins of one's life and all the punishments due to them! As Fr. Philipon writes:
Extreme unction completes the work of purification begun in the Sacrament of Penance. Its purpose is to bring man to a state of perfect holiness, so that his soul may be ready for the immediate vision of the Trinity, accessible only to the pure of heart. In the prayer following the anointing, the liturgy petitions for the full remission of sin, and the full restoration of health to body and soul: "Cure we beseech Thee, O our Redeemer, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, the ailments of this Thy sick servant; heal his wounds; forgive his sins; relieve him of all miseries of body and mind; and graciously bless him with perfect health within and without (plenamque interius and exterius sanitatem misericorditer redde), that, being made well again by the gift of Thy goodness, he may be able to take up anew the duties of his state in life."
Even after a long life of sin, if the Christian receives the Sacrament of the dying with the appropriate dispositions, he will go straight to heaven without having to go to purgatory. For what confirmation is to baptism, extreme unction is to the Sacrament of penance. As confirmation gives the fullness of the grace of configuration to Christ inaugurated in baptism, so does extreme unction bestow the fullness of the grace of purification begun in penance. In the view of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, this Sacrament is, above all, the "consummation," the completion of Christ's purifying action in the soul. Its effect is to remove every last trace of sin. All is forgiven; the soul's cleansing is complete. The very symbolism of the Sacrament of extreme unction is strikingly suggestive of the effect it produces, namely, the utter removal of all trace of
sin In every part of man, in body as well as soul. In the name of Christ the priest applies the holy anointings to every organ of sense, because it is in the senses that every moral defilement has its beginning. (M. Philipon: The Sacraments in the Christian Life, pp. 347, 348.)
To substantiate the truth that Extreme Unction eradicates all the sins of its recipient's life, the author says the following in a footnote:
Thus, the Supplement to the Summa states: "This Sacrament prepares a man for glory immediately, since it is given to those who are departing from this life in the body." (29, 1, ad
St. Albert likewise teaches that extreme unction secures the full remission of the effects of all sins. 'Extreme unction," he writes, "denotes the full purification of body and soul through the removal of every Impediment that would occlude the state of glory to either of the parts of man, that is to body or soul." (In IV Sent., d.2, art. 1). Again: "Because It takes away every vestige of sin, extreme unction makes possible the immediate entrance to heaven." (Ibid., d. 23, art. 1).
Concerning this Sacrament, the Council of Trent declares:
'The effect . . . of this Sacrament Is the grace of the Holy Spirit, whose anointing produces the following: It washes away the sins that remain to be atoned, and the vestiges of sin; it comforts and strengthens the soul of the sick person, arousing in him a great trust and confidence in the divine mercy. Thus strengthened, he bears the hardships and struggles of his Illness more easily, and resists the temptation of the devil and the heel of the deceiver (Gen. 3:15). more readily; and if it be advantageous to the welfare of his soul, he sometimes regains
his bodily health.' (Sess. xlv, cap. 2).
But those who say that there is salvation outside the Church, maintain, in effect, that this Sacrament might as well not have been instituted, for it is really of no great importance. Whatever effects flow from it, almighty God produces in the souls of non-Catholic "saints" anyhow. And He does this directly without the mediation of the Church, without the power of the priesthood, and without the Oil of the Sick, wherein is the power of the Holy Spirit.
It follows that such individuals must regard the Sacrament of Extreme Unction as no more than a rite of consolation. It is given, not because it does for the person what nothing else can, namely, eradicate completely all his sins and their effects in the recipient, but merely as a morale-booster for him and his relatives.
The fact that the Lord Jesus saw fit to create a Sacrament of Death is indication enough of what we ought never to be unmindful of, that death is final. The state of one's soul, when he is dying, is the state essentially he will remain in for all eternity. Christ comes to his rescue, when the body is in pain and his care about things eternal (or anything else) is apt to be weak and distracted. While the Devil sets upon the dying person for his last furious attack, Christ, by His Divine Spirit, places His healing Hand upon him to complete the work of sanctification, which was begun in Baptism, and continued during his life through the other Sacraments.
It cannot be emphasized too strongly how this holy Sacrament was devised by the Savior for the dying Christian* in full consideration both of his physical and his spiritual condition, and in consideration of the momentous event of his death. If life is so cheap in the modern age that war and famine, genocides** and national abortion drives (such as is now being carried on in the U.S.) are the order of the day, it is not cheap to Christ, because there is no one for whom He did not die, and no one whom He does not wish to save. The obstacle to salvation is always sin, in one form or another. No matter what the man has been, and no matter what his age, the time of his death is the most crucial of his whole life, because all that he has done has made him what he is at that moment. At that moment, Christ, "the shepherd and bishop of your souls" (I Pet. 2:25)., comes to prepare those who love Him for their entrance into eternity, for the Judgment and the reward.
* It is necessary to include the phrase, "when properly disposed," because, obviously, not everyone receives this or any other Sacrament with maximum benefit. Maximum benefit, in this case, is the forgiving of all sins and the extirpation of all sins' "remains." He who is properly disposed is the man who surrenders himself completely to God, rejecting all that is sinful and in any way unworthy of God. He is the man who arrives after many or few years at the zenith of theological charity. He is one who, like St. John of the Cross (1542-1591), seems hardly to have sinned his whole life through, or like St. Mary Magdalen, "out of whom seven devils were
gone forth" (Lk. 8:2). We are to understand that in the Sacrament of Extreme Unction there is the power to bring a man, any Catholic, at the time of his death, regardless of his physical condition (provided that he is conscious and in command of his will), to the state of perfect charity. This
doctrine is not meant to encourage presumption in the hale and the hardy, but to instruct both the well and the ill about the great succor which Christ provides His beloved children, when they are most in need and most vulnerable to the Devil's rage, and when all decisions are final.
** The Jews have striven to synonymize the word, genocide, with allegations against Nazi Germany during the Second World War, specifically in 1943 and 1944. It is to be hoped that the readers of this book know well that the 'Holocaust,' as they call it, never happened. Those who want verification of this statement should read R. Butz: The Hoax of the Twentieth Century;
or write to the Institute for Historical Review, 1822 1/2 Newport Blvd., Suite 191, Costa Mesa, CA 92627. It is the Communists, in concert with the Western democratic governments, who are the greatest mass murderers of history. For the Communists, one of the first things on the agenda, once political power has been achieved, is a blood-bath in which a large percentage of the population is exterminated by the most pitiless means which malevolence can devise. It is possible to follow the advance of Communism over the face of the earth by the cronicle of programs for the extermination of national populations, in whole or in part, during this
century of Liberalism: in Russia, in the 1920's, in Germany, in the 1940's, during and after World War II, in Central Europe and China, in the 1950's, in Katanga and Biafra, in the 1960' s, in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, in the 1970's, in Ethiopia and Afganistan, in the 1980's. Nor may we overlook the Palestinian genocide which continues in Israel to this day; or the UN-American persecution of the people of Iraq. (Cf. Criminal Politics, July, 1991. P.O. Box 37432, Cincinnati, OH 45222). The marriage of Liberalism and Marxism could not be more apparent than in the fact that, for all its feigned mournfulness over the plight of the "have-nots" of this world, the Church, all during this century, has been almost tight-lipped concerning the slaughter of millions of Gentiles, Catholics and Non-Catholics. And since the Council, when the spirit of "Ecumenism" became the fashion, this spirit has not been wide or deep enough to include the least sign of sympathy for, or even awareness of, the victims of Communism. Rather, it is to look upon Communists as misguided zealots of an impossible dream.
From Fr. James Wathen's book: Who Shall Ascend? (pp. 242-246)