Theology of the Sacrament of the Sick

As stated at the beginning of our preceding exposition on the Sacrament of Reconciliation, sin enslaves human beings. Even though “original sin” is remitted through baptism, the effects of this self-same sin remain even after baptism.

One of these effects is a human nature that remains weakened and frail, which, as also previously explained, means that, throughout our whole lives, we remain inclined to sin. Another one of these effects, indelibly connected to the first, is that human beings remain susceptible to human infirmity, illness, and death. Like sin, then, human infirmity, illness, and death are inevitable.

However, since God in His providence arranges all things in such a way that good can result from evil, instances of human illness can become opportunities for sick persons and their families to encounter God through the Sacrament of the Sick. By means of this Sacrament, Christ grants to sick persons courage and strength and, as Divine Physician, heals their souls by forgiving their sins. On occasion, the Divine Physician also heals sick persons physically, if such is necessary for the person to do, in this life, the will of the Father. However, the former healing – the forgiveness of sin – is the most important healing, since it is both a sign and an instance of victory over death, which Christ himself has won for us.

The proper time to receive the Sacrament of the Sick, which can be repeated, is whenever a person begins to be in danger of death. This “danger” need only be miniscule, and so it is proper to receive the Sacrament even in advance of a seemingly minor medical intervention.

If you or a loved one would like to receive the Sacrament of the Sick from one of St. Columbkille’s priests in either the home or hospital, then please call the rectory at (617) 782-5774.