Viaticum

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Viaticum is a term used especially in the Catholic Church for the Eucharist (also called Holy Communion) administered, with or without Anointing of the Sick (also called Extreme Unction), to a person who is dying, and 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." [1]

Catholic Church Christian church led by the Bishop of Rome

The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's "oldest continuously functioning international institution", it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the Pope. Its central administration, the Holy See, is in the Vatican City, an enclave within the city of Rome in Italy.

Eucharist Christian rite

The Eucharist is a Christian rite that is considered a sacrament in most churches, and as an ordinance in others. According to the New Testament, the rite was instituted by Jesus Christ during the Last Supper; giving his disciples bread and wine during the Passover meal, Jesus commanded his followers to "do this in memory of me" while referring to the bread as "my body" and the cup of wine as "the new covenant in my blood". Through the Eucharistic celebration Christians remember both Christ's sacrifice of himself on the cross and his commission of the apostles at the Last Supper.

Javier Lozano Barragán Catholic cardinal

Javier Lozano Barragán is a Mexican Cardinal and president Emeritus of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Care Workers in the Roman Catholic Church.

Contents

Usage

The word viaticum is a Latin word meaning "provision for a journey," from via, or "way". For Communion as Viaticum, the Eucharist is given in the usual form, with the added words "May the Lord Jesus Christ protect you and lead you to eternal life". The Eucharist is seen as the ideal spiritual food to strengthen a dying person for the journey from this world to life after death.

Alternatively, viaticum can refer to an ancient Roman provision or allowance for traveling, originally of transportation and supplies, later of money, made to officials on public missions; mostly simply, the word, a haplology of viā tēcum ("with you on the way"), indicates money or necessities for any journey. Viaticum can also refer to the enlistment bonus received by a Roman legionary, auxiliary soldier or seaman in the Roman Imperial Navy.

Ancient Rome History of Rome from the 8th-century BC to the 5th-century

In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, encompassing the Roman Kingdom, Roman Republic and Roman Empire until the fall of the western empire. The civilization began as an Italic settlement in the Italian Peninsula, conventionally founded in 753 BC, that grew into the city of Rome and which subsequently gave its name to the empire over which it ruled and to the widespread civilisation the empire developed. The Roman Empire expanded to become one of the largest empires in the ancient world, though still ruled from the city, with an estimated 50 to 90 million inhabitants and covering 5.0 million square kilometres at its height in AD 117.

Legionary professional soldier

The Roman legionary was a professional heavy infantryman of the Roman army after the Marian reforms. These soldiers, alongside auxiliary and cavalry detachments, would first conquer and then defend the territories of the Roman Empire during the late Republic and Principate eras. At its height, Roman legionaries were viewed as the foremost fighting force in the Roman world, with commentators such as Vegetius praising their fighting effectiveness centuries after the classical Roman legionary disappeared.

The Roman navy comprised the naval forces of the ancient Roman state. The navy was instrumental in the Roman conquest of the Mediterranean Basin, but it never enjoyed the prestige of the Roman legions. Throughout their history, the Romans remained a primarily land-based people and relied partially on their more nautically inclined subjects, such as the Greeks and the Egyptians, to build their ships. Because of that, the navy was never completely embraced by the Roman state, and deemed somewhat "un-Roman".

Practice

Administration of the Eucharist to a dying person (painting by 19th-century artist Alexey Venetsianov) Alexey Venetsianov 25.jpg
Administration of the Eucharist to a dying person (painting by 19th-century artist Alexey Venetsianov)

The desire to have the bread and wine consecrated in the Eucharist available for the sick and dying led to the reservation of the Blessed Sacrament, a practice which has endured from the earliest days of the Christian Church. Saint Justin Martyr, writing less than fifty years after the death of Saint John the Apostle, mentions that “the deacons communicate each of those present, and carry away to the absent the consecrated Bread, and wine and water.” (Just. M. Apol. I. cap. lxv.)

Blessed Sacrament devotional name for the body and blood of Christ

The Blessed Sacrament, also Most Blessed Sacrament, is a devotional name used in the Latin Church of the Catholic Church, as well as in Anglicanism, Lutheranism, Methodism, and the Old Catholic Church, as well as in some of the Eastern Catholic Churches, to refer to the body and blood of Christ in the form of consecrated sacramental bread and wine at a celebration of the Eucharist. In the Byzantine Rite, the terms Holy Gifts and Divine Mysteries are used to refer to the consecrated elements. Christians in these traditions believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharistic elements of the bread and wine and some of them, therefore, practice Eucharistic reservation and adoration. This belief is based on interpretations of both scripture and sacred tradition. The Catholic understanding has been defined by numerous ecumenical councils, including the Fourth Lateran Council and the Council of Trent, which is quoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Christian Church term used to refer to the whole worldwide group of people belonging to the Christian religious tradition

"Christian Church" is an ecclesiological term generally used by Protestants to refer to the whole group of people belonging to Christianity throughout the history of Christianity. In this understanding, "Christian Church" does not refer to a particular Christian denomination but to the "body" of all "believers", both defined in various ways. Other Christian traditions, however, believe that the term "Christian Church" or "Church" applies only to a specific concrete historic Christian institution, e.g. the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox Churches, or the Assyrian Church of the East).

Justin Martyr 2nd century Christian apologist and martyr

Justin Martyr was an early Christian apologist, and is regarded as the foremost interpreter of the theory of the Logos in the 2nd century. He was martyred, alongside some of his students, and is considered a saint by the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Oriental Orthodox Churches.

If the dying person cannot take solid food, the Eucharist may be administered in the species of wine alone, since Christ exists in His entirety (Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity) under both the solid and liquid species.

The sacrament of Extreme Unction is often administered immediately before giving Viaticum if a priest is available to do so. Unlike the Anointing of the Sick, Viaticum may be administered by a priest, deacon or by an extraordinary minister, using the reserved Blessed Sacrament.

Priest person authorized to lead the sacred rituals of a religion (for a minister use Q1423891)

A priest or priestess is a religious leader authorized to perform the sacred rituals of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and one or more deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities. Their office or position is the priesthood, a term which also may apply to such persons collectively.

Deacon ministry in the Christian Church

A deacon is a member of the diaconate, an office in Christian churches that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions. Some Christian churches, such as the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Anglican church, view the diaconate as part of the clerical state; in others, the deacon remains a layperson.

Extraordinary minister of Holy Communion

An extraordinary minister of Holy Communion in the Catholic Church is, under the 1983 Code of Canon Law, "an acolyte, or another of Christ's faithful deputed", in certain circumstances, to distribute Holy Communion. The term "extraordinary" distinguishes such a person from the ordinary minister of Holy Communion, namely a bishop, priest or deacon.

Relation to superstition

Contrary to church doctrine, during late Antiquity and the early medieval period the host was sometimes placed in the mouth of a person already dead, perhaps owing to traditional superstition [2] that scholars have compared to the pre-Christian custom of Charon's obol, a small coin placed in the mouth of the dead for passage to the afterlife and sometimes called a viaticum in Latin literary sources. [3]

Charons obol allusive term for a coin placed in the mouth of the dead to pay Charon to ferry them to the underworld

Charon's obol is an allusive term for the coin placed in or on the mouth of a dead person before burial. Greek and Latin literary sources specify the coin as an obol, and explain it as a payment or bribe for Charon, the ferryman who conveyed souls across the river that divided the world of the living from the world of the dead. Archaeological examples of these coins, of various denominations in practice, have been called "the most famous grave goods from antiquity."

Related Research Articles

Anointing of the sick form of religious anointing for the benefit of a sick person, practiced by various Christian denominations

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.

Last rites

The last rites, in Roman Catholicism, are the last prayers and ministrations given to an individual of the faith, when possible, shortly before death. The last rites go by various names. They may be administered to those awaiting execution, mortally injured, or terminally ill.

Confirmation rite where baptism is confirmed in several Christian denominations

In Christian denominations that practice infant baptism, confirmation is seen as the sealing of Christianity created in baptism. Those being confirmed are known as confirmands. In some denominations, such as the Anglican Communion and Methodist Churches, confirmation bestows full membership in a local congregation upon the recipient. In others, such as the Roman Catholic Church, Confirmation "renders the bond with the Church more perfect", because, while a baptized person is already a member, "reception of the sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace".

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

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..

Real presence of Christ in the Eucharist in Christianity, the doctrine that Jesus Christ is really or substantially present in the Eucharist, not merely symbolically or metaphorically

The real presence of Christ in the Eucharist is a term used in Christian theology to express the doctrine that Jesus is really or substantially present in the Eucharist, not merely symbolically or metaphorically.

Sacred mysteries

Sacred mysteries are the areas of supernatural phenomena associated with a divinity or a religious ideology. Sacred mysteries may be either:

  1. Religious beliefs, rituals or practices which are kept secret from non-believers, or lower levels of believers, who have not had an initiation into the higher levels of belief.
  2. Beliefs of the religion which are public knowledge but cannot be easily explained by normal rational or scientific means.
Eucharistic theology branch of Christian theology

Eucharistic theology is a branch of Christian theology which treats doctrines concerning the Holy Eucharist, also commonly known as the Lord's Supper. It exists exclusively in Christianity and related religions, as others generally do not contain a Eucharistic ceremony.

Reserved sacrament

During the Liturgy of the Eucharist, 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, 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.

Catholicity or catholicism is a concept that encompasses the beliefs and practices of numerous Christian denominations, most notably those that describe themselves as Catholic in accordance with the Four Marks of the Church, as expressed in the Nicene Creed of the First Council of Constantinople in 381: "[I believe] in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church."

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.

Anglican eucharistic theology

Anglican eucharistic theology is diverse in practice, reflecting the comprehensiveness of Anglicanism. Its sources include prayer book rubrics, writings on sacramental theology by Anglican divines, and the regulations and orientations of ecclesiastical provinces. The principal source material is the Book of Common Prayer, specifically its eucharistic prayers and Article XXVIII of the Thirty-Nine Articles. Article XXVIII comprises the foundational Anglican doctrinal statement about the Eucharist, although its interpretation varies among churches of the Anglican Communion and in different traditions of churchmanship such as Anglo-Catholicism and Evangelical Anglicanism.

Eucharist in the Catholic Church

The Eucharist in the Catholic Church is a sacrament celebrated as "the source and summit" of the Christian life. The Eucharist is celebrated daily during the celebration of Mass, the eucharistic liturgy. The term Eucharist is also used for the bread and wine when transubstantiated, according to Catholic teaching, into the body and blood of Jesus Christ. "At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Saviour instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood."

Catholic liturgy

In the Catholic Church, liturgy is divine worship, the proclamation of the Gospel, and active charity.

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

Anointing of the Sick is a sacrament of the Catholic Church 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 seven visible rituals that Catholics see as signs of Gods presence, consisting of those of initiation (baptism, confirmation, eucharist), of healing (reconciliation, anointing of the sick), and of service (holy orders, matrimony)

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 Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick; and the sacraments of service: Holy Orders and Matrimony.

Sacrament sacred 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 means by which God enacts his grace. Many denominations, including the Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, 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.

Christian laying on of hands

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.

References

  1. L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican's newspaper.
  2. Gregory Grabka, “Christian Viaticum,” Traditio 9 (1953), pp. 38–42; G.J.C. Snoek, Medieval Piety from Relics to the Eucharist (Leiden 1995), pp. 103, 122–124; Edward T. Cook, A Popular Handbook to the Greek and Roman Antiquities in the British Museum (London 1903), pp. 370–371.
  3. A. Rush, Death and Burial in Christian Antiquity (Washington, D.C. 1941), pp. 93–94; Gregory Grabka, “Christian Viaticum: A Study of Its Cultural Background,” Traditio 9 (1953), 1–43; Frederick S. Paxton, Christianizing Death: The Creation of a Ritual Process in Early Medieval Europe (Cornell University Press 1990), pp. 32–33 online; G.J.C. Snoek, Medieval Piety from Relics to the Eucharist: A Process of Mutual Interaction (Leiden 1995), passim, but especially pp. 102–103 online and 122–124 online; Paul Binski, Medieval Death: Ritual and Representation (Cornell University Press 1996), p. 32 online; J. Patout Burns, “Death and Burial in Christian Africa: The Literary Evidence,” paper delivered to the North American Patristics Society, May 1997, full text online.

Bibliography