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)

The last rites, also known as the Commendation of the Dying, are the last prayers and ministrations given to an individual of Christian 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 someone who has already died. [2] Last rites, in sacramental Christianity, can refer to multiple sacraments administered concurrently in anticipation of an individual's passing.

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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] The principal reason Penance is administered first to the seriously ill and dying is because the forgiveness of one's sins, and most especially one's serious (mortal) sins, is for Catholics necessary for being in a state of grace (in a full relationship with God). Dying while in the state of grace ensures that a Catholic will go straight to heaven (if they are not in a state of grace but not in a state of mortal sin, they will eventually make it to heaven, after going through a spiritual cleansing process called purgatory).

Although these three (Penance, Anointing of the sick, and Viaticum) are not, in the proper sense, the Last Rites, they are sometimes spoken of as such; the Eucharist given as Viaticum is the only sacrament essentially associated with dying. [6] "The celebration of the Eucharist as Viaticum is the sacrament proper to the dying Christian". [7]

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.[ citation needed ]

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." [8]

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. [9]

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." [10]

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 ). [11]

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. [12] There is an abbreviated form of Holy Unction to be performed for a person in imminent danger of death, [12] 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. [13]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Anointing of the sick</span> Religious anointing/sacrament

Anointing of the sick, known also by other names such as unction, 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chrismation</span> Initiation rite also known as confirmation

Chrismation consists of the sacrament or mystery in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches, as well as in the Assyrian Church of the East initiation rites. The sacrament is more commonly known in the West as Confirmation, although Italian normally uses the term cresima ("chrismation") rather than confermazione ("confirmation").

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Confession (religion)</span> Acknowledgment of ones sins

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

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Penance</span> Repentance of sins

Penance is any act or a set of actions done out of repentance for sins committed, 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.

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Christian burial</span> 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Anglican sacraments</span>

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Euchologion</span> Liturgical works of Eastern Christian Churches

The Euchologion is one of the chief liturgical books of the Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic churches, containing the portions of the services which are said by the bishop, priest, or deacon. The Euchologion roughly corresponds to a combination of the missal, ritual, and pontifical as they are used in Latin liturgical rites. There are several different volumes of the book in use.

The Sacrament of Penance is one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church, in which the faithful are absolved from sins committed after baptism and reconciled with the Christian community. While in current practice reconciliation services may be used to bring out the communal nature of the sacrament, mortal sins must be confessed and venial sins may be confessed for devotional reasons. According to the current doctrine and practice of the church, only those ordained as priests may grant absolution.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Holy orders in the Catholic Church</span> Ordination of clergy in the Roman Catholic Church

The sacrament of holy orders in the Catholic Church includes three orders: bishops, priests, and deacons, in decreasing order of rank, collectively comprising the clergy. In the phrase "holy orders", the word "holy" means "set apart for a sacred 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Anointing of the Sick in the Catholic Church</span> 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."

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lutheran sacraments</span>

The Lutheran sacraments are "sacred acts of divine institution". Lutherans believe that, whenever they are properly administered by the use of the physical component commanded by God along with the divine words of institution, God is, in a way specific to each sacrament, present with the Word and physical component. They teach that God earnestly offers to all who receive the sacrament forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation. They teach that God also works in the recipients to get them to accept these blessings and to increase the assurance of their possession.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sacraments of the Catholic Church</span> 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sacrament</span> Christian rite recognized as of particular importance and significance

A sacrament is a Christian rite that is recognized as being particularly important and significant. 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, 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.

<i>Book of Common Prayer</i> (1549) 1st Anglican liturgical book

The 1549 Book of Common Prayer (BCP) is the original version of the Book of Common Prayer, variations of which are still in use as the official liturgical book of the Church of England and other Anglican churches. Written during the English Reformation, the prayer book was largely the work of Thomas Cranmer, who borrowed from a large number of other sources. Evidence of Cranmer's Protestant theology can be seen throughout the book; however, the services maintain the traditional forms and sacramental language inherited from medieval Catholic liturgies. Criticised by Protestants for being too traditional, it was replaced by the significantly revised 1552 Book of Common Prayer.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rite (Christianity)</span> Sacred ceremony or liturgical tradition in Christianity

In Christianity, a rite is used to refer to a sacred ceremony, which may or may not carry the status of a sacrament depending on the Christian denomination. The word "rite" is also used to denote a liturgical tradition usually emanating from a specific center; examples include the Roman Rite, the Byzantine Rite, and the Sarum Rite. Such rites may include various sub-rites. For example, the Byzantine Rite has Greek, Russian, and other ethnically-based variants.

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". Archived from the original on 16 July 2018. Retrieved 9 November 2019.
  4. "Catechism of the Catholic Church - The anointing of the sick". www.vatican.va.
  5. Arnold, Michelle (29 December 2017). "A Guide to the Last Rites". Catholic Answers. Archived from the original on 4 June 2018.
  6. Stolz, Eric. "Anointing of the Sick/Last Rites". St. Brendan Catholic Church. Retrieved 19 September 2022.
  7. "Sacramental Guidelines" (PDF). Diocese of Gallup. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 November 2010. Retrieved 4 December 2010.
  8. Hapgood, Isabel Florence (1975), Service Book of the Holy Orthodox-Catholic Apostolic Church (Revised ed.), Englewood, NJ: Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese, pp. 360–366
  9. 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
  10. A Monk of St. Tikhon's Monastery, Op. cit., p. 153.
  11. A Monk of St. Tikhon's Monastery, Op. cit., pp. 137–154.
  12. 1 2 Hapgood, Op. cit., pp. 607–608.
  13. Wohlers, Charles. "The Proposed Book of Common Prayer (1928) of the Church of England". Society of Archbishop Justus. Retrieved 10 May 2021.