Our Post on the subject of a "HEALING MASS" has received a Comment which I would like to cover in this present Post because of the way it is framed and because of the approach it reflects. It comes from a lady named "Catherine":

"Before taking so harsh a line on the recipients of the sacrament, it is worth reflecting upon the Gospel accounts where all who came to Jesus were healed and upon the purpose of the Sacrament of Anointing as given in the Catechism. As Canon 1005 says, if in doubt, grant the sacrament. The Sacrament of Anointing is to help people unite their sufferings with Christ CCC 1521. It is also to help a sick person fight the many temptations that come with illness CCC 1520, and to be strengthened to continue along the path of suffering. When good for the soul, physical healing is granted CCC 1520. Persons suffering chronic illness and mental illness have just as much need of this sacrament as those with serious acute illness. Battling arthritis or heart trouble, lymphodema, diabetes, motor neurone disease etc, takes just as much out of a person as the acute illnesses do. Likewise someone struggling with mental illness or someone trying to cope with a live-in family member with mental illness needs just as much sacramental support.

When someone BEGINS to be in danger of death (one of the criteria) they feel their mortality, their "powerlessness, limitations and finitude"CCC1500. "Every illness can make us glimpse death."CCC 1500.

On this understanding, the vast majority of those at the Healing Mass and those who take care of them are quite justified in seeking to be touched by Jesus in order to be healed by Jesus ( body, soul, mind ,spirit) in this Sacrament CCC 1504."


The Comment is generally moderate in tone and presents reasonably with quotes from the Catechism of The Catholic Church and a reference to one of the Canons. On a casual sympathetic skim  reading, many would give it a nod of approval - "sounds nice - yes I agree".

I beg to differ. I do not accept the claim in line 1 that I "took (so) harsh a line with the recipients of the Sacrament". Rather, I pointed out that these are good people being badly led and not instructed.I made no criticism of the recipients. So that layer of veneer must be cast aside.

In general, it seems to me that Catherine is looking for an anointing that Our Lord did not leave to us. As the consistent teaching of the Church shows, from Tradition, the Popes, the Councils , Canon Law and yes, the Catechism of the Catholic Church itself  shows, this is a Sacrament intended for those in danger of dying and in advanced old age ( and therefore in danger of dying.)

Catherine's appeal to Canon 1005 re cases of doubt is, sadly, the type of fallacy that I addressed in the original Post. It is crystal clear in the Canon Law , and in the Catechism of the Catholic Church that this Canon is intended to aid the Pastor of Souls in particular cases where the circumstances and urgency may create legitimate doubt - as in the case of a Priest crawling through the wreckage of a train that has crashed - he cannot be a judge of each victim's medical condition. It is not at all intended to give a "nudge, nudge, wink, wink" to those organising mass administration of the Sacrament.

Her paragraph commencing "Persons suffering chronic...."lists a group of people, who, however sad their plight, are not necessarily in danger of death from those illnesses in the near term. The same appeal as she makes, could be made for the disabled  - but the Canons explicitly confirm that the Sacrament is NOT for them, nor even for soldiers about to leap into the jaws of death in battle.

Compassion for the suffering is not something any one of us can claim exclusively, nor can it be brought forward against the Divine Intention. And it is exactly that Divine Intention that the Church in her fidelity to Christ is enunciating in the Canon Law which our Post outlined.

It needs to be remembered that Our Divine Lord has not left the unfortunates Catherine  lists without succour. Far from it, in His infinite generosity He personally comes to them Body, Blood ,Soul and Divinity in the Blessed Sacrament every day if they will.This, as we are taught, is the Presence of Christ par excellence.

I fear that Catherine has fallen victim to the "niceness"of the Anointing Ritual.We referred to this problem in the Post.

But the Sacraments do not exist to pour "niceness"into every nook and cranny of our life on Earth - though they do in reality go a long way to  far surpass such a goal. But I fear  that Catherine may  have become distracted by the "niceness"of anointing, the sentimental/ emotional "fix"some find in it, at the expense of their realisation of the wondrous consolation , spiritual blessings and  reality of the Sacrament of the Blessed Eucharist.

The fact that Catherine has gone far off course in all of this is demonstrated when she advocates that carers should also be legitimate recipients. No, that is not what Our Divine Lord left us. Not the anointing of soldiers going into battle, not the anointing of the disabled, not the anointing of those chronically ill - none of those poor folk - unless they are in danger of death from present illnesses or advanced old age. 

We cannot re-make or re-shape the Sacraments for any reason whatever - they come to us from Our Lord Jesus Christ and He empowered His Catholic Church to govern their administration. Whatever the civil law might say here or there or now or later, the Sacrament of Marriage cannot be tampered with to accommodate what some Homosexuals think would be "Nice"or even their "right!". And we can no more make the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick into some sort of General Consolation of the unfortunate.

If anyone wants to hold the defence of what Jesus Christ entrusted to His Holy Catholic Church "harsh"( especially when it is moderately stated) they are wrong, but I am happy to "wear"the criticism to defend His Will.

Finally, in her last two paragraphs Catherine takes up some effective obiter dicta in the Catechism and seeks to use them as justification, or even relevance, in the administration of the Sacrament. This is illogical,unwarranted and inappropriate as anyone reading the Catechism will quickly see. We cannot seize on words here and there in the Catechism because they are convenient or because they touch on a specific aspect of the subject we are examining. Just as the Catechism says many things around the effects of each of the Sacraments, those comments do not affect the particular requirements governing those who may receive the Sacraments or the Church's teaching as to the purpose of the Sacrament.

I trust that my comments here will not be judged unkind let alone "harsh",for we are obliged to defend the Truth"in season and out of season"and in fact, Catherine's Comment amply demonstrated the pernicious effect of this liturgical abuse on good people who have not been properly instructed.


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