Last rites

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Administering the last rites (Dutch School, c. 1600) Last Rites ca 1600.jpg
Administering the last rites (Dutch School, c. 1600)

In Christianity, the last rites, also known as the Commendation of the Dying, are the last prayers and ministrations given to an individual of the faith, when possible, shortly before death. [1] They may be administered to those awaiting execution, mortally injured, or terminally ill. Last rites cannot be performed on people who have already died. [2]

Contents

Catholic Church

A Catholic chaplain, Lieutenant Commander Joseph T. O'Callahan, administering the last rites to an injured crewman aboard USS Franklin, after the ship was set afire by a Japanese air attack, 19 March 1945 Joseph T. O'Callahan gives last rites to an injured crewman aboard USS Franklin (CV-13), 19 March 1945.jpg
A Catholic chaplain, Lieutenant Commander Joseph T. O'Callahan, administering the last rites to an injured crewman aboard USS Franklin, after the ship was set afire by a Japanese air attack, 19 March 1945

The Latin Church of the Catholic Church defines Last Rites as Viaticum (Holy Communion administered to someone who is dying), and the ritual prayers of Commendation of the Dying, and Prayers for the Dead. [3]

The sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is usually postponed until someone is near death. Anointing of the Sick has been thought to be exclusively for the dying, though it can be received at any time. Extreme Unction (Final Anointing) is the name given to Anointing of the Sick when received during last rites. [4] If administered to someone who is not just ill but near death, Anointing of the Sick is generally accompanied by celebration of the sacraments of Penance and Viaticum. The order of the three is important and should be given in the order of Penance (confessing one's sins), then Anointing of the Sick, and finally the Viaticum. [5]

Although these three (Penance, Anointing of the sick, and Viaticum) are not, in the proper sense, the Last Rites, they are sometimes mistakenly spoken of as such.

The Eucharist given as Viaticum is the only sacrament essentially associated with dying: "The celebration of the Eucharist as Viaticum is the sacrament proper to the dying Christian". [6]

In the Roman Ritual's Pastoral Care of the Sick: Rites of Anointing and Viaticum, Viaticum is the only sacrament dealt with in Part II: Pastoral Care of the Dying. Within that part, the chapter on Viaticum is followed by two more chapters, one on Commendation of the Dying, with short texts, mainly from the Bible, a special form of the litany of the saints, and other prayers, and the other on Prayers for the Dead. A final chapter provides Rites for Exceptional Circumstances, namely, the Continuous Rite of Penance, Anointing, and Viaticum, Rite for Emergencies, and Christian Initiation for the Dying. The last of these concerns the administration of the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation to those who have not received them.

In addition, the priest has authority to bestow a blessing in the name of the Pope on the dying person, to which a plenary indulgence is attached.

Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches

Russian Orthodox priest administering the last rites to a soldier on the field of battle Prithastie ranennogo.jpg
Russian Orthodox priest administering the last rites to a soldier on the field of battle

In the Eastern Orthodox Church and those Eastern Catholic Churches which follow the Byzantine Rite, the last rites consist of the Sacred Mysteries (sacraments) of Confession and the reception of Holy Communion.

Following these sacraments, when a person dies, there are a series of prayers known as The Office at the Parting of the Soul From the Body. This consists of a blessing by the priest, the usual beginning, and after the Lord's Prayer, Psalm 50. Then a Canon to the Theotokos is chanted, entitled, "On behalf of a man whose soul is departing, and who cannot speak". This is an elongated prayer speaking in the person of the one who is dying, asking for forgiveness of sin, the mercy of God, and the intercession of the saints. The rite is concluded by three prayers said by the priest, the last one being said "at the departure of the soul." [7]

There is an alternative rite known as The Office at the Parting of the Soul from the Body When a Man has Suffered for a Long Time. The outline of this rite is the same as above, except that Psalm 70 and Psalm 143 precede Psalm 50, and the words of the canon and the prayers are different. [8]

The rubric in the Book of Needs (priest's service book) states, "With respect to the Services said at the parting of the soul, we note that if time does not permit to read the whole Canon, then customarily just one of the prayers, found at the end of the Canon, is read by the Priest at the moment of the parting of the soul from the body." [9]

As soon as the person has died the priest begins The Office After the Departure of the Soul From the Body (also known as The First Pannikhida ). [10]

In the Orthodox Church Holy Unction is not considered to be solely a part of a person's preparation for death, but is administered to any Orthodox Christian who is ill, physically or spiritually, to ask for God's mercy and forgiveness of sin. [11] There is an abbreviated form of Holy Unction to be performed for a person in imminent danger of death, [11] which does not replace the full rite in other cases.

Lutheran Churches

In the Lutheran Churches, last rites are formally known as the Commendation of the Dying, in which the priest "opens in the name of the triune God, includes a prayer, a reading from one of the psalms, a litany of prayer for the one who is dying, [and] recites the Lord’s Prayer". [1] The dying individual is then anointed with oil and receives the sacraments of Holy Absolution and Holy Communion. [1]

Anglican Communion

The proposed 1928 revision of the Church of England's Book of Common Prayer would have permitted reservation of the Blessed Sacrament for use in communing the sick, including during last rites. This revision failed twice in the Parliament of the United Kingdom's House of Commons. [12]

See also

Related Research Articles

Anointing of the sick Religious anointing/sacrament

Anointing of the sick, known also by other names, is a form of religious anointing or "unction" for the benefit of a sick person. It is practiced by many Christian churches and denominations.

Viaticum is a term used – especially in the Catholic Church – for the Eucharist, administered, with or without Anointing of the Sick, to a person who is dying; viaticum is thus a part of the Last Rites. According to Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán, "The Catholic tradition of giving the Eucharist to the dying ensures that instead of dying alone they die with Christ who promises them eternal life."

Anointing Ritual act of putting aromatic oil on a person

Anointing is the ritual act of pouring aromatic oil over a person's head or entire body.

Confession (religion)

Confession, in many religions, is the acknowledgment of one's sins (sinfulness) or wrongs.

Penance Repentance of sins

Penance is repentance of sins as well as an alternate name for the Catholic, Lutheran, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox sacrament of Reconciliation or Confession. It also plays a part in confession among Anglicans and Methodists, in which it is a rite, as well as among other Protestants. The word penance derives from Old French and Latin paenitentia, both of which derive from the same root meaning repentance, the desire to be forgiven. Penance and repentance, similar in their derivation and original sense, have come to symbolize conflicting views of the essence of repentance, arising from the controversy as to the respective merits of "faith" and "good works". Word derivations occur in many languages.

Confirmation Christian religious practice

In Christian denominations that practice infant baptism, confirmation is seen as the sealing of the covenant created in baptism. Those being confirmed are known as confirmands. For adults, it is an affirmation of belief.

A rite is an established, ceremonial, usually religious, act. Rites in this sense fall into three major categories:

Byzantine Rite Liturgical rite of most Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches

The Byzantine Rite, also known as the Greek Rite or the Rite of Constantinople, identifies the wide range of cultural, liturgical, and canonical practices that developed in the Eastern Orthodox Church of Constantinople.

In the Catholic Church, the Apostolic Pardon is an indulgence given for the remission of temporal punishment due to sin. The Apostolic Pardon is given by a priest, usually along with Viaticum. It is not usually given as part of the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. However, if the Anointing of the Sick is given with Viaticum, in exceptional circumstances or an emergency, it may be given then..

Absolution is a traditional theological term for the forgiveness imparted by ordained Christian priests and experienced by Christian penitents. It is a universal feature of the historic churches of Christendom, although the theology and the practice of absolution vary between denominations.

Christian burial Religious funeral practice

A Christian burial is the burial of a deceased person with specifically Christian rites; typically, in consecrated ground. Until recent times Christians generally objected to cremation because it interfered with the concept of the resurrection of a corpse, and practiced inhumation almost exclusively. Today this opposition has all but vanished among Protestants and Catholics alike, and this is rapidly becoming more common, although Eastern Orthodox Churches still mostly forbid cremation.

Reserved sacrament

During the Mass of the Faithful, the second part of the Mass, the elements of bread and wine are considered to have been changed into the veritable Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. The manner in which this occurs is referred to by the term transubstantiation, a theory of St. Thomas Aquinas, in the Roman Catholic Church. Members of the Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran communions also believe that Jesus Christ is really and truly present in the bread and wine, but they believe that the way in which this occurs must forever remain a sacred mystery. In many Christian churches some portion of the consecrated elements is set aside and reserved after the reception of Communion and referred to as the reserved sacrament. The reserved sacrament is usually stored in a tabernacle, a locked cabinet made of precious materials and usually located on, above, or near the high altar. In Western Christianity usually only the Host, from Latin: hostia, meaning "victim", is reserved, except where wine might be kept for the sick who cannot consume a host.

Anglican sacraments

In keeping with its prevailing self-identity as a via media or "middle path" of Western Christianity, Anglican sacramental theology expresses elements in keeping with its status as a church in the catholic tradition and a church of the Reformation. With respect to sacramental theology the Catholic tradition is perhaps most strongly asserted in the importance Anglicanism places on the sacraments as a means of grace, sanctification and forgiveness as expressed in the church's liturgy.

The sacrament of holy orders in the Catholic Church includes three orders: bishop, priest, and deacon. In the phrase "holy orders", the word "holy" simply means "set apart for some purpose." The word "order" designates an established civil body or corporation with a hierarchy, and ordination means legal incorporation into an order. In context, therefore, a group with a hierarchical structure that is set apart for ministry in the Church.

Anointing of the Sick in the Catholic Church One of the sacraments in the Catholic Church

In the Catholic Church, the Anointing of the Sick, also known as Extreme Unction, is a Catholic sacrament that is administered to a Catholic "who, having reached the age of reason, begins to be in danger due to sickness or old age", except in the case of those who "persevere obstinately in manifest grave sin". Proximate danger of death, the occasion for the administration of Viaticum, is not required, but only the onset of a medical condition of serious illness or injury or simply old age: "It is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death. Hence, as soon as anyone of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for him to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived."

Sacraments of the Catholic Church Catholic visible rites

There are seven sacraments of the Catholic Church, which according to Catholic theology were instituted by Jesus and entrusted to the Church. Sacraments are visible rites seen as signs and efficacious channels of the grace of God to all those who receive them with the proper disposition. The sevenfold list of sacraments is often organized into three categories: the sacraments of initiation, consisting of Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist; the sacraments of healing, consisting of Penance and Anointing of the Sick; and the sacraments of service: Holy Orders and Matrimony.

Sacrament Christian rite recognized as of particular importance and significance

A sacrament is a Christian rite recognized as of particular importance and significance. There are various views on the existence and meaning of such rites. Many Christians consider the sacraments to be a visible symbol of the reality of God, as well as a channel for God's grace. Many denominations, including the Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, Free Church of England, Methodist, and Reformed, hold to the definition of sacrament formulated by Augustine of Hippo: an outward sign of an inward grace, that has been instituted by Jesus Christ. Sacraments signify God's grace in a way that is outwardly observable to the participant.

This article is about Coptic Orthodox healing among Egyptians.

Christian laying on of hands Symbolic and formal method of invoking the Holy Spirit

In Christianity, the laying on of hands is both a symbolic and formal method of invoking the Holy Spirit primarily during baptisms and confirmations, healing services, blessings, and ordination of priests, ministers, elders, deacons, and other church officers, along with a variety of other church sacraments and holy ceremonies.

Canon 844 is a Catholic Church canon law contained within the 1983 Code of Canon Law, which defines the licit administration and reception of certain sacraments of the Catholic Church in normative and in particular exceptional circumstances, known in canonical theory as communicatio in sacris.

References

  1. 1 2 3 "Liturgies for the end of life" (PDF). Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. 2017. p. 4. Retrieved 11 May 2021.
  2. Kerper, Rev. Fr. Michael (July–August 2016), vonHaack, Sarah J. (ed.), "When can Last Rites be given?", Dear Father Kerner, Parable, Manchester, N.H.: Diocese of Manchester, vol. 10 no. 1, pp. 10–11, USPS 024523, retrieved 15 November 2020, The priest was correct: only a living person can receive a sacrament, including the sacrament of the sick.
  3. M. Francis Mannion, "Anointing or last rites?" in Our Sunday Visitor Newsweekly
  4. "Catechism of the Catholic Church - The anointing of the sick". www.vatican.va.
  5. "A Guide to the Last Rites". www.catholic.com.
  6. "Sacramental Guidelines" (PDF). Diocese of Gallup.
  7. Hapgood, Isabel Florence (1975), Service Book of the Holy Orthodox-Catholic Apostolic Church (Revised ed.), Englewood, NJ: Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese, pp. 360–366
  8. A Monk of St. Tikhon's Monastery (1995), Book of Needs (Abridged) (2nd ed.), South Canaan PA: St. Tikhon's Seminary Press, pp. 123–136, ISBN   1-878997-15-7
  9. A Monk of St. Tikhon's Monastery, Op. cit., p. 153.
  10. A Monk of St. Tikhon's Monastery, Op. cit., pp. 137–154.
  11. 1 2 Hapgood, Op. cit., pp. 607–608.
  12. Wohlers, Charles. "The Proposed Book of Common Prayer (1928) of the Church of England". Society of Archbishop Justus. Retrieved 10 May 2021.