When a Catholic is very sick, the Church anoints the person with oil in a special ritual of healing called Anointing of the Sick. Traditionally referred to as Extreme Unction or Last Rites, the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is administered both to the dying and to those who are gravely ill or are about to undergo a serious operation, for the recovery of their health and for spiritual strength. It is a ritual of healing appropriate not only for physical but also for mental and spiritual sickness.
"Is any man sick among you? Let him bring in the "priests" of the church, and let them pray over him." – James 5:14
This sacrament is a true sacrament instituted by Christ and proclaimed by St James. It is administered by anointing with blessed oil accompanied by prayer. Only a priest can validly administer it. It can be received by any baptised person who has reached the age of reason and is on account of sickness or age in danger of death. Its effect is the strengthening of the soul, often of the body as well, and in the necessary conditions remission of sins. This rite is one way in which the Church continues the healing ministry of Jesus. The healing offered by this anointing is forgiveness of sins, hope and inner peace, sometimes physical healing, and an assurance of God's steadfast care, even in death.
In the past, this sacrament was often kept strictly for those close to death. In more recent years the Church has encouraged greater use of this sacrament for illness which is not necessarily life-
A person may be anointed during any weekday Mass before surgery or medical treatment, and at other times by request to a priest.