Pastoral Care of the Dying
The last rites of the Catholic Church do not usually include the sacrament of anointing. It is rather the Eucharist which is the sacrament proper to the dying person, the last sacrament of Christian life. This is called VIATICUM or ‘food for the journey’ through death to eternal life. It is the completion and crown of the Christian life on this earth, signifying that the Christian follows the Lord to eternal glory and the banquet of the heavenly kingdom.
In addition, the family and friends of the dying person surround the deathbed with prayers of COMMENDATION. Quietly and gently the dying person is given over to God’s loving care.
In exceptional circumstances, where the health crisis has arrived suddenly or by an accident, and if a priest is available, a rite that combines the sacraments of Penance, Anointing and Viaticum may be celebrated. The priest will shorten these rites if the danger of death is imminent, but the sacraments cannot be administered to someone who has already died.
Parishioners are invited to contact the parish office when death seems to be getting close for support in this difficult time.