Sacraments of Healing
Sacramental Norms and Policies of the Archdiocese of Washington, issued in 1995, address the Sacraments of Christian Initiation, Sunday Mass, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Marriage, Holy Orders and Funeral liturgies. For further information regarding the Sacramental Norms and Policies of the Archdiocese of Washington, contact the Office of Worship of the Archdiocese of Washington, (301) 853-4594.
SACRAMENTS OF HEALING
(Penance and Anointing of the Sick)
“The Lord Jesus Christ, physicians of our souls and bodies, who forgave the sins of the paralytic and restored him to bodily health (Cf. Mk2:1-12), has willed that his Church continue, in the power of the Holy Spirit, his work of healing and salvation, even among her own members. This is the purpose of the two sacraments of healing: the sacrament of Penance and the sacraments of Anointing of the Sick.” – Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1421.
Sacrament of Penance
“According to the Church’s Command, ‘after having attained the age of discretion, each of the faithful is bound by an obligation faithfully to confess serious sins at least once a year.’” - Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1457. However, we are encouraged to receive the Sacrament of Penance monthly throughout our lifetime so that we can benefit from the graces we obtain through reception of this sacrament.
The Sacrament of Penance is to precede First Communion. Formal instruction for Penance is to be separate and distinct from preparation for the reception of First Communion. The value of this practice is to catechize the children, from age of reason, to the true Christian spirit of penance and conversion, to growth in self-knowledge and self-control, to a true sense of sin, even of venial sin, to the necessity of asking for pardon from God, and above all, to a loving and confident abandonment to the mercy of the Lord. In no circumstances should a child receive First Communion without first having received the Sacrament of Penance.
Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick
The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is the proper sacrament for those Catholics who have attained the use of reason and whose health is seriously impaired by sickness or old age. Through this sacrament, the Church comforts and supports the person who is suffering and continues the healing ministry of Christ. Only a priest can administer the Anointing of the Sick.
For those who are about to die, the Church, in addition to the Anointing of the Sick, offers the Eucharist as viaticum - food for their journey home.