Words for a Catholic Ceremony of Last Rites

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Roman Catholics recognize seven sacraments, which serve as rites of Christian initiation and passage throughout a person’s life, however brief or long that life may endure. Extreme Unction, also called Last Rites and Anointing of the Sick, is the final sacrament for Catholic faithful. A gravely ill or injured Roman Catholic may receive the Sacrament of Extreme Unction. In her final moments, a Catholic receives strength and comfort with a last anointing in preparation for the next stage in the soul’s spiritual journey.

1 Scriptural Basis

As is true for all of the sacraments, the Sacrament of Extreme Unction has a scriptural basis. According to the Traditional Roman Catholicism website, the author of James 5:14-15 calls for priests to pray over the sick and to anoint them “in the name of the Lord.” This sacred action has the power to save the ill and dying and to forgive sins.

2 Conditions for Extreme Unction

Roman Catholic doctrine establishes criteria for the conditions of Extreme Unction. The person who is ill or injured must have achieved the age of reason, 7 years old, he must repent of his sins and be in a state of grace and he must accept that God may will him to be healed or die.

3 The Words in the Vernacular

Once the recipient receives the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist, in that order, a Roman Catholic priest performs the Sacrament of Extreme Unction. The priest makes the sign of the cross on various parts of the person’s body and speaks the words in the vernacular, “Through this Holy Unction or oil, and through the great goodness of His mercy, may God pardon thee whatever sins thou hast committed by evil use of sight (sight, hearing, smell, taste and speech, touch, ability to walk).” The last word varies according to the part of the body over which the priest is making the sign of the cross. In cases in which death threatens quickly, the priest may make the sign of the cross on the person’s forehead and say, “Through this holy unction may the Lord pardon thee whatever sins or faults thou hast committed,” according to the Fish Eaters website.

4 The Words in Latin

The Roman Catholic Church is a Latin rite Christian Church and all of the sacraments are Latin in their original forms. If a priest performs Extreme Unction in Latin, he will say, “Per istam sanctan unctionem et suam piissimam misericordiam, indulgeat tibi Dominus quidquid per (visum, audtiotum, odorátum, gustum et locutiónem, tactum, gressum deliquisti).”

Alyson Paige has a master's degree in canon law and began writing professionally in 1998. Her articles specialize in culture, business and home and garden, among many other topics.