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Sacrament does not mean the end

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    Posted: 01 April 2005 at 6:09am
Sacrament does not mean the end
April 1, 2005 - 1:51PM

If Pope John Paul II received the Roman Catholic sacrament known as "the anointing of the sick" late last night night, as some media have reported, the ritual would be another signal of his failing health.

Yet, revised church teaching means receiving the blessed oil does not necessarily mean the Holy Father is at the point of death.

The sacrament began as a ritual of healing with origins in the Gospel of Mark when Jesus summoned his disciples to anoint the sick and cure them.

Over the centuries the emphasis shifted from healing to forgiveness of sins, and it was conferred exclusively on people who were on their deathbed as the final preparation before the soul went to heaven.

The holy rite became known as "extreme unction."

Several decades ago, Pope Paul VI and the Second Vatican Council sought to return the sacrament of the sick to its original meaning.

In the Apostolic Constitution of 1972, the council stated anointing "is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death.

"Hence, as soon as anyone of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for him to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived."

If the person's condition becomes more serious, the sacrament may be repeated. The holy rite, renamed the anointing of the sick, was also deemed appropriate just prior to a serious operation.

The Second Vatican Council said the revision's intent was "to lead to a wider availability of the sacrament and to extend it - within reasonable limits - even beyond cases of mortal illness."

The change also helped move the sacrament away from a private service in a home or hospital, allowing for it also to be celebrated in a communal setting in a church for a whole group of sick people.

Whether in a hospital or at a church, anointing of the sick includes the same principal elements. The priest lays hands on the sick, prays over them and anoints the forehead and hands of the sick person with holy oil.

Pope John Paul II received the sacrament after the assassination attempt on his life in 1981.

- KRT

~ Our feet are earthbound, but our hearts and our minds have wings ~
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Angel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 April 2005 at 6:11am
This thread is for and about the Sacraments not technically about the Pope's condition.
~ Our feet are earthbound, but our hearts and our minds have wings ~
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