956 Q. What is the Sacrament of Extreme Unction?
A. Extreme Unction is the Sacrament which, through the anointing and prayer of the priest, gives health andstrength to the soul, and sometimes to the body, when we are in danger of death from sickness.
957 Q. Why is this Sacrament called Extreme Unction?
A. Extreme means last, and Unction means an anointing or rubbing with oil, and because Catholics are anointed with oil at Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders, the last Sacrament in ,which oil is used is called Extreme Unction, or the last Unction or anointing.
958 Q. Is this Sacrament called Extreme Unction if the person recovers after receiving it?
A. This Sacrament is always called Extreme Unction, even if it must be given several times to the same person, for Extreme Unction is the proper name of the Sacrament, and it may be given as often as a person recovering from one attack of sickness is in danger of death by another. In a lingering illness it may be repeated after a month or six weeks, if the person slightly recovers and again relapses into a dangerous condition.
959 Q. To whom may Extreme Unction be given?
A. Extreme Unction may be given to all Christians dangerously ill, who have ever been capable of committing sin after baptism and who have the right dispositions for the Sacrament. Hence it is never given to children who have not reached the use of reason, nor to persons who have always been insane.
960 Q. What are the right dispositions for Extreme Unction?
A. The right dispositions for Extreme Unction are:
- Resignation to the Will of God with regard to our recovery;
- A state of grace or at least contrition for sins committed, and
- A general intention or desire to receive the Sacrament.
This Sacrament is never given to heretics in danger of death, because they cannot be supposed to have the intention necessary for receiving it, nor the desire to make use of the Sacrament of Penance in putting themselves in a state of grace.
961 Q. When and by whom was Extreme Unction instituted?
A. Extreme Unction was instituted at the time of the apostles, for James the Apostle exhorts the sick to receive it. It was instituted by Our Lord Himself -- though we do not know at what particular time -- for He alone can make a visible act a means of grace, and the apostles and their successors could never have believed Extreme Unction a Sacrament and used it as such unless they had Our Lord's authority for so doing.
962 Q. When should we receive Extreme Unction?
A. We should receive Extreme Unction when we are in danger of death from sickness, or from a wound or accident.
963 Q. What parts of the body are anointed in Extreme Unction?
A. The parts of the body anointed in Extreme Unction are: The eyes, the ears, the nose or nostrils, the lips, the hands and the feet, because these represent our senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch, which are the means through which we have committed most of our sins.
964 Q. What things should be prepared in the sick-room when the priest is coming to give the last Sacraments?
A. When the priest is coming to give the last Sacraments, the following things should be prepared:
A table covered with a white cloth; a crucifix; two lighted candles in candlesticks; holy water in a small vessel, with a small piece of palm for a sprinkler; a glass of clean water; a tablespoon and a napkin or cloth, to be placed under the chin of the one receiving the Viaticum. Besides these, if Extreme Unction also is to be given, there should be some cotton and a small piece of bread or lemon to purify the priest's fingers.
965 Q. What seems most proper with regard to the things necessary for the last Sacraments?
A. It seems most proper that the things necessary for the last Sacraments should be carefully kept in every Catholic family, and should never, if possible, be used for any other purpose.
966 Q. What else is to be observed about the preparation for the administration of the last Sacraments?
A. The further preparation for the administration of the last Sacraments requires that out of respect for the Sacraments, and in particular for the presence of Our Lord, everything about the sick-room, the sick person and even the attendants, should be made as neat and clean as possible. Especially should the face, hands and feet of the one to be anointed be thoroughly clean.
967 Q. Should we wait until we are in extreme danger before we receive Extreme Unction?
A. We should not wait until we are in extreme danger before we receive Extreme Unction, but if possible we should receive it whilst we have the use of our senses.
968 Q. What should we do in case of serious illness if the sick person will not consent or is afraid to receive the Sacraments, or, at least, wishes to put off their reception?
A. In case of serious illness, if the sick person will not consent, or is afraid to receive the Sacraments, or, at least, wishes to put off their reception, we should send for the priest at once and let him do what he thinks best in the case, and thus we will free ourselves from the responsibility of letting a Catholic die without the last Sacraments.
969 Q. Which are the effects of the Sacrament of Extreme Unction?
A. The effects of Extreme Unction are:
- To comfort us in the pains of sickness and to strengthen us against temptations;
- To remit venial sins and to cleanse our soul from the remains of sin;
- To restore us to health, when God sees fit.
970 Q. Will Extreme Unction take away mortal sin if the dying person is no longer able to confess?
A. Extreme Unction will take away mortal sin if the dying person is no longer able to confess, provided he has the sorrow for his sins that would bee necessary for the worthy reception of the Sacrament of Penance.
971 Q. How do we know that this Sacrament, more than any other, was instituted to benefit the body?
A. We know that this Sacrament more than any other was instituted to benefit the body:
- From the words of St. James exhorting us to receive it;
- It is given when the soul is already purified by the graces of Penance and Holy Viaticum;
- One of its chief objects is to restore us to health if it be for our spiritual good, as most of the prayers said in giving this Sacrament indicate.
972 Q. Since Extreme Unction may restore us to health, should we not be glad to receive it?
A. Since Extreme Unction may restore us to health. we should be glad to receive it, and we should not delay its reception till we are so near death that God could restore us only by a miracle. Again, this Sacrament, like the others, gives sanctifying and sacramental grace, which we should be eager to obtain as soon as our sickness is sufficient to give us the privilege of receiving the last Sacraments.
973 Q. What do you mean by the remains of sin?
A. By the remains of sin I mean the inclination to evil and the weakness of the will which are the result of our sins, and which remain after our sins have been forgiven.
974 Q. How should we receive the Sacrament of Extreme Unction?
A. We should receive the Sacrament of Extreme Unction in the state of grace, and with lively faith and resignation to the will of God.
975 Q. Who is the minister of the Sacrament of Extreme Unction?
A. The priest is the minister of the Sacrament of Extreme Unction.
976 Q. What is the final preparation we should make for the reception of the last Sacraments?
A. The final preparation we should make for the reception of the last Sacraments consists in an earnest effort to be resigned to God's Holy Will, to excite ourselves to true sorrow for our sins, to profit by the graces given us, to keep worldly thoughts from the mind, and to dispose ourselves as best we can for the worthy reception of the Sacraments and the blessings of a good death.
977 Q. At what time should persons dangerously ill attend to the final arrangement of their temporal or worldly affairs?
A. Persons dangerously ill should attend to the final arrangement of their temporal or worldly affairs at the very beginning of their illness, that these things may not distract them at the hour of death, and that they may give the last hours of their life entirely to the care of their soul.
978 Q. What is the Sacrament of Holy Orders?
A. Holy Orders is a Sacrament by which bishops, priests, and other ministers of the Church are ordained and receive the power and grace to perform their sacred duties.
979 Q. Besides bishops and priests, who are the other ministers of the Church?
A. Besides bishops and priests, the other ministers of the Church are deacons and subdeacons, who, while preparing for the priesthood, have received some of the Holy Orders, but who have not been ordained to the full powers of the priest.
980 Q. Why is this Sacrament called Holy Orders?
A. This Sacrament is called Holy Orders because it is conferred by seven different grades or steps following one another in fixed order by which the sacred powers of the priesthood are gradually given to the one admitted to that holy state.
981 Q. What are the grades by which one ascends to the priesthood?
A. The grades by which one ascends to the priesthood are:
- Tonsure, or the clipping of the hair by the bishop, by which the candidate for priesthood dedicates himself to the service of the altar;
- The four minor orders, Porter, Reader, Exorcist, and Acolyte, by which he is permitted to perform certain duties that laymen should not perform;
- Sub-deaconship, by which he takes upon himself the obligation of leading a life of perpetual chastity and of saying daily the divine office;
- Deaconship, by which be receives power to preach, baptize, and give Holy Communion.
The next step, priesthood, gives him power to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and forgive sins. These orders are not all given at once, but at times fixed by the laws of the Church.
982 Q. Are not the different orders separate Sacraments?
A. These different orders are not separate Sacraments. Taken all together, some are a preparation for the Sacrament and the rest are but the one Sacrament of Holy Orders; as the roots, trunk and branches form but one tree.
983 Q. What name is given to sub-deaconship, deaconship and priesthood?
A. Sub-deaconship, deaconship and priesthood are called major or greater orders, because those who receive them are bound for life to the service of the altar and they cannot return to the service of the world to live as ordinary laymen.
984 Q. What double power does the Church possess and confer on her pastors?
A. The Church possesses and confers on her pastor, the power of orders and the power of jurisdiction; that is, the power to administer the Sacraments and sanctify the faithful, and the power to teach and make laws that direct the faithful to their spiritual good. A bishop has the full power of orders and the Pope alone has the full power of jurisdiction.
985 Q. How do the pastors of the Church rank according to authority?
A. The pastors of the Church rank according to authority as follows:
- Priests, who govern parishes or congregations in the name of their bishop;
- Bishops, who rule over a number of parishes or a diocese;
- Archbishops, who have authority over a number of dioceses or a province;
- Primates, who have authority over the ecclesiastical or Church provinces of a nation;
- Patriarchs, who have authority over a whole country;
- and last and highest, the Pope, who rules the Church throughout the world.
986 Q. How do the prelates or higher officers of the Church rank in dignity?
A. The prelates or higher officers of the Church rank in dignity as they rank in authority, except that in dignity Cardinals are next to the Pope, and Vicars Apostolic, Monsignori, and others having titles follow bishops. Papal delegates and those specially appointed by the Pope rank according to the powers he has given them.
987 Q. Who are Cardinals, what are their duties and how are they divided?
A. Cardinals are the members of the Supreme Council or Senate of the Church. Their duties are to advise and aid the Pope in the government of the Church, and to elect a new Pope when the reigning Pope dies. They are divided into committees called sacred congregations, each having, its special work to perform. All these congregations taken together are called the Sacred College of Cardinals, of which the whole number is seventy.
988 Q. Who is a Monsignor?
A. A Monsignor is a worthy priest upon whom the Pope confers this title as a mark of esteem. It gives certain privileges and the right to wear purple like a bishop.
989 Q. Who is a Vicar-General?
A. A Vicar-General is one who is appointed by the bishop to aid him in the government of his diocese. He shares the bishop's power and in the bishop's absence he acts for the bishop and with his authority.
990 Q. Who is an Abbot?
A. An Abbot is one who exercises over a religious community of men authority similar in many things to that exercised by a bishop over his diocese. He has also certain privileges usually granted to bishops.
991 Q. What is the pallium?
A. The pallium is a white woolen vestment worn by the Pope and sent by him to patriarchs, primates and archbishops. It is the symbol of the fullness of pastoral power, and reminds the wearer of the Good Shepherd, whose example he must follow.
992 Q. What is necessary to receive Holy Orders worthily?
A. To receive Holy Orders worthily it is necessary to be in the state of grace, to have the necessary knowledge and a divine call to this sacred office.
993 Q. What name is given to this divine call and how can we discover this call?
A. This divine call is named a vocation to the priestly or religious life. We can discover it in our constant inclination to such a life from the pure and holy motive of serving God better in it, together with our fitness for it, or, at least, our ability to prepare for it, also in our true piety and mastery over our sinful passions and unlawful desires.
994 Q. How should we finally determine our vocation?
A. We should finally determine our vocation:
- By leading a holy life that we may be more worthy of it;
- By praying to the Holy Ghost for light on the subject;
- By seeking the advice of holy and prudent persons and above all of our confessor.
995 Q. What should parents and guardians bear in mind with regard to their children's vocations?
A. Parents and guardians should bear in mind with regard to their children's vocations:
- That it is their duty to aid their children to discover their vocation;
- That it is sinful for them to resist the Will of God by endeavoring to turn their children from their true vocation or to prevent them from following it by placing obstacles in their way, and, worst of all, to urge them to enter a state of life to which they have not been divinely called;
- That in giving their advice they should be guided only by the future good and happiness of their children and not by any selfish or worldly motive which may lead to the loss of souls.
996 Q. How should Christians look upon the priests of the Church?
A. Christians should look upon the priests of the Church as the messengers of God and the dispensers of His mysteries.
997 Q. How do we know that the priests of the Church are the messengers of God?
A. We know that the priests of the Church are the messengers of God, because Christ said to His apostles, and through them to their successors: "As the Father hath sent Me, I also send you"; that is to say, to preach the true religion, to administer the Sacraments, to offer Sacrifice, and to do all manner of good for the salvation of souls.
998 Q. When did the priests of the Church receive this threefold power to preach, to forgive sins and to consecrate bread and wine?
A. The priests of the Church received this three-fold power to preach, to forgive sins and to consecrate bread and wine, when Christ said to them, through the apostles: "Go teach all nations"; "Whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven," and "Do this for a commemoration of Me."
999 Q. Why should we show great respect to the priests and bishops of the Church?
A. We should show great respect to the priests and bishops of the Church:
- Because they are the representatives of Christ upon earth, and
- Because they administer the Sacraments without which we cannot be saved.
Therefore, we should be most careful in what we do, say or think concerning God's ministers. To show our respect in proportion to their dignity, we address the priest as Reverend, the bishop as Right Reverend, the archbishop as Most Reverend, and the Pope as Holy Father.
1000 Q. Should we do more than merely respect the ministers of God?
A. We should do more than merely respect the ministers of God. We should earnestly and frequently pray for them, that they may be enabled to perform the difficult and important duties of their holy state in a manner pleasing to God.
1001 Q. Who can confer the Sacrament of Holy Orders?
A. Bishops can confer the Sacrament of Holy Orders.
1002 Q. How do we know that there is a true priesthood in the Church?
A. We know that there is a true priesthood in the Church:
- Because in the Jewish religion, which was only a figure of the Christian religion, there was a true priesthood established by God;
- Because Christ conferred on His apostles and not on all the faithful the power to offer Sacrifice, distribute the Holy Eucharist and forgive sins.
1003 Q. But is there need of a special Sacrament of Holy Orders to confer these powers?
A. There is need of a special Sacrament of Holy Orders to confer these powers:
- Because the priesthood which is to continue the work of the apostles must be visible in the Church, and it must therefore be conferred by some visible ceremony or outward sign;
- Because this outward sign called Holy Orders gives not only power but grace and was instituted by Christ, Holy Orders must be a Sacrament.
1004 Q. Can bishops, priests and other ministers of the Church always exercise the power they have received in Holy Orders?
A. Bishops, priests and other ministers of the Church cannot exercise the power they have received in Holy Orders unless authorized and sent to do so by their lawful superiors. The power can never be taken from them, but the right to use it may be withdrawn for causes laid down in the laws of the Church, or for reasons that seem good to those in authority over them. Any use of sacred power without authority is sinful, and all who take part in such ceremonies are guilty of sin.