Updated: Jan 9
Dear Friends in Christ:
This weekend we are reflecting on the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. As I think about that sacrament I am immediately drawn to thoughts of health institutions calling at the last moments of a person’s life asking for a priest for “Last Rites.” But this Sacrament is so much more than simply last rights. The teaching on this Sacrament used to be that one could only receive this Anointing once, hence the terminology that became popular was “Last Rites.” Now the Church teaches that the sacrament can be received more than once. Let’s look at this sacrament in a bit more detail.
If you have ever been sick, then you know what it is like to want to recover and feel better. If you have ever been so sick that recovery might not be possible, then you know what it is like to want to be at peace. Every moment in the span between both of these situations and conditions is taken into consideration as the Roman Catholic Church offers the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick to those who are ill or suffering.
Sickness is a fact of human life and experience. Like death itself, it makes no distinction among persons confronted by its grasp. It should come as no surprise, then, that the Lord Jesus Christ reached out to those who were sick in his day and offered them courage, healing, strength and peace. We read many such occasions in the pages of the Gospels. He likewise invited and directed his Apostles to do the same; a practice that continues in the Roman Catholic Church to the present day through the successors of the Apostles, that is, our bishops, and through our priests who minister to us in the name of our bishops.
The ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ and his Apostles to the sick and suffering is the foundation and origin of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick finds its most specific foundation in the Letter of James which is read during the Rite itself when the priest says, “My dear friends, we are gathered here in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ who is present among us. As the gospels relate, the sick came to him for healing; moreover, he loves us so much that he died for our sake. Through the apostle James, he has commanded us: ‘Are there any who are sick among you? Let them send for the priests of the Church, and let the priests pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick persons, and the Lord will raise them up; and if they have committed any sins, their sins will be forgiven them.’ Let us therefore commend our sick brother/sister N. to the grace and power of Christ, that he may save him/her and raise him/her up.”
Families are often confused about how and when to request the Sacrament of the Sick when a loved one falls ill. We encourage people to schedule an Anointing of the Sick when family and friends can be present for the sacrament. If you are scheduled for surgery and would like to be anointed, please call to schedule so we might anoint before you are in the hospital. Please do not wait until the last possible moment for the anointing of the sick because a priest may be unable to be present in time.
How can we decide if we should ask to be anointed? A good or reasonably sure judgment, without an uneasy feeling about the rightness of what one is doing or going to do, is sufficient for deciding on the seriousness of an illness. For example: A sick person may be anointed before surgery, whether or not a serious illness is the reason for the surgery.
Elderly people may be anointed if they have become notably weakened even though no serious illness is present. Sick children may be anointed if they have sufficient use of reason to be strengthened by this Sacrament. And, if you are still unsure, ask Father!
The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is administered by a bishop or priest to bring spiritual and even physical strength during an illness. This sacrament, unlike some of our other sacraments, can be administered more than once, especially if a person has a chronic illness.
"The special grace of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick has as its effects: the uniting of the sick person to the passion of Christ, for their own good and that of the whole Church the strengthening, peace, and courage to endure in a Christian manner the sufferings of illness or old age, the forgiveness of sins, if the sick person was not able to obtain it through the Sacrament of Penance, the restoration of health, if it is conducive to the salvation of their soul, the preparation for passing over to eternal life" (CCC 1532).
Our Parish Corporal Works of Mercy Update…thank you for your donations last weekend to Visit the Sick. It is so encouraging to see so many cards that can be handed out to our homebound parishioners as well as those in nursing care facilities. This weekend we are working to Shelter the Homeless. All the donations to our second collection will be sent to Saint Vincent DePaul Shelter. Next weekend we will focus on the corporal work to Visit the Imprisoned by donating Good News Bibles and/or Pocket Dictionaries. These items can be purchased at any retailer or on Amazon. Please place them in front of the altar in the baskets before Mass or during the Offertory.
Next Sunday is PALM SUNDAY! Amazing to think how quickly these weeks of Lent have gone! Have we really taken advantage of Lent and its practices of Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving so as to Encounter Christ in a deeper and more profound way? If the answer is yes, then praise the Lord. If the answer is no, then I say it is NOT TOO LATE. We still have this week and Holy Week to make sure we Encounter Christ! Don’t wait!
Join us for the services and liturgies of the Holiest of Weeks.
Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, April 13th and April 14th,
we will have our regular Mass schedule Saturday and Sunday! Join us!
Holy Thursday, Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, April 18th, 7 P.M., in Saint Bridget Church
Followed by Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the Saint Bridget of Sweden Parish Center until 10 P.M.
Good Friday, Service of the Lord’s Passion, April 19th, 3 P.M.
in both Saint Bridget Church and Saint Thomas Becket Church
Stations of the Cross, 7 P.M., in Saint Bridget Church
Holy Saturday, April 20th
Blessing of the Food, 11 A.M. in Saint Bridget Church
The Easter Vigil in the Holy Night, 8 P.M. in Saint Bridget Church
Please note there is no 9 A.M., 4 P.M. or 5 P.M. Mass on Holy Saturday!
Easter Sunday, April 21st
Masses at 7:30, 9:00, and 11:00 A.M. in Saint Bridget Church
and 8:00 and 10:00 A.M. in Saint Thomas Becket Church
Please note there is NO 4 P.M. Mass on Easter Sunday!
Happiest Congratulations to Sandi Thomas…This past Sunday at the Cathedral of Saint Joseph in Hartford Sandi was awarded the Saint Joseph Medal of Appreciation in recognition for all that she has done and continues to do to support the many ministries of Saint Bridget of Sweden Parish. We could not possibly accomplish so much in our mission without the countless volunteers, such as Sandi, who make so much possible with the generosity of their time, talent, and treasure. So, as we recognize Sandi for her efforts please know we also thank God for the many in our parish family who volunteer day in and day out to make our parish such a vibrant community of faith. Thank you!
As always, remember to pray for our parish family and ask God’s blessings as we build His kingdom here. Please know that I am praying for you, and I ask for your prayers for me, that together through the intercession of Saint Bridget of Sweden, our Patroness, and united in the Eucharist, we will reflect the presence of Jesus to the world.