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The Anointing of the Sick is a sacrament for Catholics who have reached the age of reason (7 years old) and begin to be in danger due to sickness or old age. There is no need to wait until a person is at the point of death to receive this Sacrament. A careful judgment about the serious nature of the illness is sufficient. It is a sacrament of the living. It cannot be offered to a person who has already died.

The Anointing of the Sick must be requested by the Catholic suffering from a serious illness or going through surgery. When a person is too sick to request a priest, an immediate family member must call the office and/or come to the rectory for a priest after office hours. Once you have been diagnosed with a serious illness, do not wait to be too weak to confess your sins, be anointed, and receive Holy Communion

The primary effect of the Sacrament is a spiritual healing by which the sick person receives the Holy Spirit's gift of peace and courage to deal with the difficulties that accompany serious illness or the frailty of old age.

Last Rites

Last Rites are the sacraments received when a person is nearing death. When a person is in danger of death, a priest may be called so that the dying person might receive the last rites, which include (if possible) Confession, Anointing of the Sick, and the final reception of Holy Communion. These sacraments provide the forgiveness of sins, help the individual prepare for death, and bring peace and courage to the sick person as the Holy Spirit guides them on their final steps to eternal life.

What else are the last rites?

So we know that there are three common sacraments offered in the last rites, but the one that is most proper to the dying (for those who are still able to ingest food) is Viaticum or the final reception of Holy Communion. 


For some who may still be journeying toward the Church near their death, the last rites may also include baptism and confirmation. 

The proper order to administer the sacraments near the hour of death would be confession first, then the anointing of the sick, and finally the reception of the Eucharist. 

If the individual has not been baptized yet, it would be proper to be baptized first and then receive the sacrament of confirmation before receiving the rest of the sacraments proper to the last rites.

Archdiocese of Santa Fe


A Guide to the Last Rites

Accompanying the Dying in Prayer:

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