You may be wondering, “What are the Last Rites, and who can receive them?”. In this article, we will be covering which sacraments make up the last rites, when and how they are performed, and who can receive the rites.
Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person.James (5:14-15)
- 1 What Are the Last Rites?
- 2 Who Can Perform the Last Rites?
- 3 Why Are The Last Rites Important?
- 4 Are the Last Rights Only Performed At the Hour of Death?
- 5 Who Can Be Given the Last Rites?
- 6 Do All Christian Faiths Practice Last Rites?
- 7 What Happens if the Person is Not Capable of Requesting the Last Rites For Themselves?
- 8 The Last Rites Service
- 8.1 1) Addressing the Dying
- 8.2 2) The Begining of the Last Rites
- 8.3 3) Reconciliation and Penance
- 8.4 4) Apostles’ Creed
- 8.5 5) Anointing of the Sick
- 8.6 6) The Viaticum
- 8.7 7) Final Blessing and Prayers
- 9 Final Thoughts
What Are the Last Rites?
The Last Rites are a collection of prayers and sacraments that are administered to a person who is in grave danger of dying. Jesus gave us the seven sacraments – Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Confession, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony – to help guide us into the light of the Lord.
Baptism and Confirmation are vital for welcoming the love and wisdom of the Heavenly Father into our lives. The Last Rites incorporate the Sacraments of Confession, Anointing of the Sick, and Eucharist, with the prayers of Apostles’ Creed, and Our Father.
Who Can Perform the Last Rites?
A Priest’s primary duty is to take care of the spiritual needs of their congregation. Just as birth and marriage are crucial parts of a Catholic’s life, so too is their inevitable death.
Attending to the spiritual needs of the dying is one of the most important duties of a Priest. Baptism, Confirmation, and Marriage are all Sacraments that an individual Catholic could choose for themselves. None of us can choose when its time for us to enter Heaven, only by God’s will can we be called, and a Priest must prepare for this.
Why Are The Last Rites Important?
It is due to God’s will that we are born, and we die. The Last Rite can be used to help provide Catholics with the spiritual strength needed for both physical and spiritual recovery, at times when we may be at the brink of death.
When a faithful Catholic faces imminent risk of dying or is on the verge of death, the Last Rites can be administered to offer them a final chance to be absolved of their sins in preparation for entering heaven, to denounce their sinful ways, and face their individual judgment to avoid hell.
Are the Last Rights Only Performed At the Hour of Death?
While it may be the case that most people will not ask for their Last Rites until death is all but assured, it nevertheless remains a fact that the Last Rites can be performed much earlier.
Many Priest actually find it to be quite troublesome when families often wait till the last minute before calling upon them. Sometimes it may be too late, and the Priest might not arrive in time to perform the rites before the family member dies. For this reason, Priests would rather perform the last rights when there’s still plenty of time left.
If a practicing Catholic is in danger of death from sickness, illness, old age, or about to undergo a high-risk operation; they may request to have their Last Rites performed to help with their recovery, or to ask God to help ease their suffering during their final journey.
Who Can Be Given the Last Rites?
Essentially speaking, only the living can be anointed, and as such, the Last Rites are reserved for the dying, and not the deceased. If a Catholic was to have passed away before a Priest could administer the Last Rites, the Priest could instead choose to recite a prayer for their Pastoral Care of the Sick ritual book.
For the living, a practicing and faithful Catholic who is in good standing with the Church can be granted a full Last Rites service. Depending on who is receiving the Last Rites, and what their current state of mind and body is at, will determine how the Last Rites may be performed.
Non-Catholics and absent Catholics can be granted the Last Rites as well, the process will not involve the Holy Communion, however. As long as they are able to consent to it, soldiers of war, death row inmates, the young, and the old, of all walks of life, are able to request that the Last Rites be performed for them.
Do All Christian Faiths Practice Last Rites?
Last Rites is primarily a Catholic tradition that is administered to the dying. The other Christian denominations may pray for the dying person, or wait until they have been called to heaven by God before praying for them.
What Happens if the Person is Not Capable of Requesting the Last Rites For Themselves?
Family members of the dying person can request that the Last Rites be performed for them on their behalf. The Priest will confirm that the person is a practicing Catholic before leading them in an Act of Contrition, and the Apostles’ Creed prayer, before anointing them with holy oil.
The Last Rites Service
The entire Last Rites process can be broken down into three core segments:
- Reconciliation and Penance
- Anointing of the Sick
- The Viaticum
1) Addressing the Dying
Before they will begin, the Preist will speak with the dying person to not only comfort them but to also see to their individual spiritual needs. In doing so, the Priest will be able to determine if the person will be capable of participating in the Last Rites ceremony on their own, or if the Priest will need to lead them.
This is where the Priest will also determine which rites this individual may be entitled to receive. If they were an active member of the community, faithful to the Lord, and within good standing with the Church, the Priest would be willing to provide them with all the sacramental rites.
If the person is a non-Catholic, someone who has been excommunicated, or is no longer a practicing Catholic, the Preist may adjust the rites accordingly. They may even offer to perform a baptism for the individual, or they may only be willing to offer Confession and the Anointing of the Sick. It is not the Priest’s role to pass judgment, only to help guide them through their final journey.
2) The Begining of the Last Rites
The priest will make the Sign of the Cross. If the recipient is a non-Catholic, unconscious, or unable to speak for themselves, the Priest will lead them in an Act of Contrition. For practicing Catholics that are able to speak, the Preist will move on to Confession instead.
3) Reconciliation and Penance
The Sacrament of Confession is an essential part of the Last Rites. By taking confession on their death bed, a dying person can be absolved of their sins by the Priest. In doing so, the confessor will receive the sacramental grace of Confession.
4) Apostles’ Creed
The Priest will now lead their charge in the prayer of Apostle’s Creed. They even ask them to renew their Baptismal promises and Baptise a willing non-Catholic.
5) Anointing of the Sick
The sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is reserved for the most serious of situations. Some who is suffering an illness such as cancer, or are going in for a dangerous operation; can be given the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, even if there is a good chance for their recovery. By the grace of God, the anointing could be received to help them through their difficult journey. If the illness was to return after their recovery, the Anointing of the Sick could be performed again if requested.
Alternatively, if they are gravely ill, very old, or if there is a high probability of them dying from a terminal illness or disease, then the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, would be used to ask the Lord to help ease their suffering during their last days on earth, and for them to pass away peacefully, without any pain or suffering.
The Priest will then anoint the recipient with holy oil if they are Catholic, or chrism if they are non-Catholic.
6) The Viaticum
Before the Sacrament of Eucharist is offered, the Priest will lead this person in the Our Father prayer. If they are Catholic, conscious and able to swallow, the priest will offer them their final Holy Communion, the Viaticum, which means “with you on the way”.
7) Final Blessing and Prayers
The Priest will conclude the Last Rites by offering blessings and reciting prayers that they feel will be applicable to the recipient’s specific situation.
If you find yourself in a situation where your life is in grave danger, and death could be close, whether it’s due to illness, or a dangerous procedure that is needed to save your life, speak with your priest early on, and address your concerns.
They can help to advise you on what would be the best approach to take when preparing for the inevitable. They may advise you to regularly take part in Confession and Holy Communion as part of your preparations.
If you are to undergo treatment or will need to have an operation or two, they might recommend that you receive the Anointing of the Sick at each stage of the process, especially if the risks of dying get higher with each new procedure.
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Eternal rest grant unto him/her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him/her. May he/she rest in peace. Amen. May almighty God bless us with his peace and strength, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.What happens if a Catholic does not get Last Rites? ›
The Decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary says, “The Church prays for those who find themselves unable to receive the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick and of the Viaticum, entrusting each and every one to divine Mercy by virtue of the communion of saints and granting the faithful a Plenary Indulgence on the point ...What is the final rights prayer? ›
This prayer is simple. It goes, “Through this holy anointing may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit. May the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up.”How important are the Last Rites to Catholic? ›
Last Rites are crucial for faithful Catholics because these are the final prayers and blessings the dying will receive before going to heaven. The administration of the Last Rites is a final cleansing, which prepares the dying to enter heaven rather than hell, as they have denounced their sinful nature.What are the last words of the Catholic Bible? ›
- Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. ( Luke 23:34)
- Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise. ( ...
- Woman, behold your son. ...
- My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? ( ...
- I thirst. ( ...
- It is finished. ( ...
- Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit. (
Risen Lord Jesus, You lived the brokenness and suffering on your cross. Let all who are in pain and dying be given wings for their flagging spirits. Be their strength for you are Strength. Be their peace for you are Peace.Can a Catholic layman give Last Rites? ›
“The Last Rites”
Viaticum may be administered by a priest, deacon or a trained layperson.
As mentioned above, Last Rites are performed to help prepare an individual for their journey into the afterlife. It is meant to be a final cleansing of a person's soul. During the process, they will confess and be absolved of their sins so that they may enter heaven instead of hell.How much do you pay a priest for Last Rites? ›
This means that the official stance of the Catholic Church is that there is no cost to have last rites given to your loved one. A quick look at Catholic forums confirms this practice in the U.S. This policy is based on the teachings found in the Bible.What is the blessing for concluding rites? ›
In every case, the blessing is always trinitarian: "May almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit." It is in the triune God and in the sign of the cross that we find our blessing. After the blessing, the deacon dismisses the people. In fact, the dismissal gives the liturgy its name.
And I pray that you will lead me, a sinner, to the banquet where you, with your Son and Holy Spirit, are true and perfect light, total fulfillment, everlasting joy, gladness without end, and perfect happiness to your saints. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.What is the closing prayer Bible verse? ›
O Mighty God, You are the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). Now that I have read Your word, help me to live in your ways, your truth, and your life as You continually reveal yourself. Amen.Can Catholics be cremated? ›
Although the Catholic Church prefers in-ground burial or entombment of a deceased person's body, cremation of the body prior to burial is allowed within the confines of the religion.Can a divorced Catholic have Last Rites? ›
Catholics who are divorced and remarried outside of the Church may receive the Sacrament of Anointing and Last Rites if they are in danger of death. For more information about Anointing of the Sick or administration of the Last Rites, contact the parish office in the parish where you participate.Does the Last Rites include confession? ›
The Last Rites involve the administration of Anointing of the Sick as well as Confession (if possible), Viaticum (final Holy Communion) and the prayers of commendation.What is the last scripture? ›
Revelation 22 is the twenty-second (and the last) chapter of the Book of Revelation or the Apocalypse of John, and the final chapter of the New Testament and of the Christian Bible. The book is traditionally attributed to John the Apostle.What are the seven last words Catholic reflection? ›
The Seven Last Words
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” “Woman, this is your son” . . . “This is your mother.” “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
There are no accidents—only deeper calls to faith. Not at Mary's death bed, But her last recorded words in the Gospels: “Do whatever he tells you.”What to do for a dying Catholic? ›
Anointing of the sick
This sacrament is offered to people who are dying, and to those who are seriously ill, facing a serious operation, or who are simply very frail due to old age. The priest prays over you and anoints your forehead and hands with holy oil.
St. Joseph is known as the Patron of a Happy Death.
Catholics see death as a change rather than an ending. physical bodies will die (they are buried or cremated) but we will receive a spiritual resurrection body and have the possibility of eternal life with God. their own actions. There will be a final judgment when the whole of creation will be judged.Who performs Last Rites if there is no son? ›
If the deceased has no male heir, either the son-in-law or a close male relative does the rites. After Gangadhar passed away, a few persons tried to identify his male relatives for the last rites, but finally his two daughters lit the pyre.Can nuns do the Last Rites? ›
Although only priests can administer Last Rites, nuns, religious brothers and lay people can also become Catholic chaplains. Of the 2,600 members in Lichter's organization, about 450 are priests, down from 834 just 20 years ago.How long do souls stay in Purgatory? ›
Regarding the time which purgatory lasts, the accepted opinion of R. Akiba is twelve months; according to R. Johanan b.How much do you tip a Catholic priest for a funeral? ›
If you are charged a fee for the clergy member's services, a tip or donation is not necessary. If there is no cost for these services, consider an honorarium, which could range from $50 to $300.Do you tip your priest? ›
"You can also give your officiant, rabbi, or priest anywhere between $50 $100 as a personal tip, in addition to your donation." Norwood advises making the donation ahead of time, "as it will be one less thing to worry about on the day of." If your officiant is attending your rehearsal dinner, give them an envelope with ...How many times can you receive Last Rites? ›
A person may be anointed more than once, especially if they take a “turn for the worse.” The elderly can be anointed when the frailties of age or dementia begin to take their toll. The Code of Canon Law provides that the last rites may be given to any Catholic disposed to receive them.What is the last blessing? ›
The Last Blessing is to not just clarify to readers what hospice care is all about; it is to encourage those navigating hospice personally, or with a loved one, to see God's presence in their lives during this time of sorrow. It is the last blessing to help people let go of their loved ones to their new, eternal home.What is the final blessing called? ›
The Apostolic Pardon is a final blessing given specifically to the terminally ill and dying when they receive the Anointing of the Sick. Typically it is given after the absolution of the Sacrament of Confession (to the extent that the dying person is able to participate in the sacrament).What is the closing prayer? ›
Thank you, Lord, for your presence with us this day. As we depart from this space now, we ask you to bless us throughout the remainder of the day and guide us safely home.
The prayer of protection. The prayer of transformation. The prayer of restoration.What are the 4 last things Catholic? ›
The Catholic Church has always reminded her spiritual children to reflect often, even daily, on "The Four Last Things": Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell.What is the oldest Catholic prayer? ›
This prayer, known in Latin as Sub tuum Praesidium and first found in a Greek papyrus, c. 300 A.D., is the oldest known prayer to the Virgin.What verse says God is the final say? ›
Jeremiah 1:12 “Then said the LORD unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten My Word to perform I”. No matter what happens, God's Holy Word is irrevocable. God and His Words are One.What is the last psalm? ›
Psalm 150 is the 150th and final psalm of the Book of Psalms, beginning in English in the King James Version: "Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary". In Latin, it is known as "Laudate Dominum in sanctis eius".What Scripture says God has the final say? ›
This Too Shall Pass. God's Word Stands Forever. God Gets The Last Word! Matthew 24:35, ESV Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.Why can't Catholics scatter ashes? ›
Though the Pope and the Church approve of cremation, scattering of one's ashes is strictly prohibited. In the eyes of the Church, this is a type of desecration and is looked upon as a sign of disrespect to the deceased.Can Catholics be organ donors? ›
Catholicism. Roman Catholics view organ and tissue donation as an act of charity and love, as reported in the Catholic publication Origins in 1994. Transplants are morally and ethically acceptable to the Vatican.How long after death should a Catholic be buried? ›
How long after death should a Catholic be buried? The funeral and burial take place between 2 and 7 days after someone has died — typically around three days after. The ceremonies are usually not held on a Sunday, as this day is reserved for the traditional Sunday church service.Can a divorced remarried Catholic receive Communion? ›
Divorced people are full members of the Church and are encouraged to participate in its activities. May a divorced Catholic receive Holy Communion? Yes.
The only thing that would keep a divorced Catholic from receiving Communion is if they enter into another marriage outside the Church, or another circumstance arises, such as serious sin, that would keep them, (or any other Catholic for that matter) from being properly disposed to receive.Can a widow marry a divorced man in the Catholic Church? ›
Since divorce only impacts your legal status in civil law, it has no impact upon your status in church law. Since a divorced person is still considered married in church law, they are not free for remarriage in the Church. Simply put, a person can't have two spouses at the same time.What is said during last rites? ›
Eternal rest grant unto him/her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him/her. May he/she rest in peace. Amen. May almighty God bless us with his peace and strength, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.What are examples of last rites? ›
Last Rites are the sacraments received when a person is nearing death. When a person is in danger of death a priest may be called in order that dying persons might receive the last rites, which include Confession, Anointing of the Sick (formerly extreme unction) and final reception of holy Communion (Viaticum).When should I ask for the last rites? ›
It's best to receive the graces of all the so-called “last rites,” including confession, anointing and Holy Communion, before death. If that's not possible, such as when death seems to be coming very quickly, don't hesitate to call a priest immediately and he will do what he can.What are the 3 Catholic rites? ›
- Malankara Rite.
- Maronite Rite.
- Syro-Antiochian Rite.
Requiem æternam dona ei (eis), Domine. ℟. Et lux perpetua luceat ei (eis):What are the words of extreme unction? ›
He prays: “By this holy anointing, and by His most tender mercy, may the Lord forgive thee whatever thou hast done amiss by sight, hearing, smell, speech, taste, touch, and walk.”What are the 6 rites of the Catholic Church? ›
Traditionally there are six major liturgical families: the Latin, Alexandrian, Antiochian, Armenian, Chaldean and Constantinopolitan (sometimes called Byzantine). The Latin rite is mostly formed by the Roman rite which is divided into an ordinary and extraordinary form.Is Catholic different from Roman Catholic? ›
"Roman Catholic" and "Catholic"
"In popular usage, 'Catholic' usually means 'Roman Catholic'," a usage opposed by some, including some Protestants. "Catholic" usually refers to members of any of the 24 constituent Churches, the one Western and the 23 Eastern.
The first Christians faced east when praying, likely an outgrowth of the ancient Jewish custom of praying in the direction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Due to this established custom, Tertullian says some non-Christians thought they worshipped the sun.What do priests say at Last Rites? ›
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."What is the final blessing in Catholic Mass? ›
In every case, the blessing is always trinitarian: "May almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit." It is in the triune God and in the sign of the cross that we find our blessing. After the blessing, the deacon dismisses the people. In fact, the dismissal gives the liturgy its name.What prayer is commonly said during the Catholic funeral rite? ›
Catholic Funeral Prayers
The Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be are common prayers recited at funerals. The Prayer for the Dead and Prayer for the Mourners are traditional to recite at funerals.
Last Rites are the sacraments received when a person is nearing death. When a person is in danger of death a priest may be called in order that dying persons might receive the last rites, which include Confession, Anointing of the Sick (formerly extreme unction) and final reception of holy Communion (Viaticum).How many times can you receive extreme unction? ›
A person can receive the sacrament as many times as needed throughout his or her life, and a person with a chronic illness might be anointed again if the disease worsens. Imminent death from external causes—such as the execution of a death sentence—does not render one apt for the sacrament.What is the difference between Anointing of the Sick and extreme unction? ›
Formerly known as Extreme Unction or Last Rites
The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, often referred to as Extreme Unction or Last Rites, is a ritual of healing appropriate not only for those in immediate danger of death but also for those suffering from physical, mental, or spiritual sickness.
These rites so listed: Latin, Byzantine, Alexandrian, Syriac, Armenian, Maronite, and Chaldean,2 are actually families of liturgical expression. These rites are the descendants of the liturgical practices that originated in centers of Rome, Antioch, and Alexandria. Each will be discussed in turn.What are the two types of Catholic? ›
The Latin and Eastern Catholic Churches together form the "Catholic Church", or "Roman Catholic Church", the world's largest single religious body and the largest Christian denomination, as well as its largest Catholic church, comprising over half of all Christians (1.27 billion Christians of 2.1 billion) and nearly ...What are 5 rites passages? ›
These rites are paramount to the development of an individual as well as the community. Most of the ancient rites of passage can be separated and classified into five groups. Rite to Birthright, Rite to Adulthood, Rite to Marriage, Rite to Eldership and Rite to Ancestorship.