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Baltimore Catechism (1891)
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A. Extreme Unction is the Sacrament which, through the anointing and prayer of the priest, gives health and strength to the soul, and sometimes to the body, when we are in danger of death from sickness.
A. Extreme means last, and Unction means an anointing or rubbing with oil, and because Catholics are anointed with oil at Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders, the last Sacrament in ,which oil is used is called Extreme Unction, or the last Unction or anointing.
A. This Sacrament is always called Extreme Unction, even if it must be given several times to the same person, for Extreme Unction is the proper name of the Sacrament, and it may be given as often as a person recovering from one attack of sickness is in danger of death by another. In a lingering illness it may be repeated after a month or six weeks, if the person slightly recovers and again relapses into a dangerous condition.
A. Extreme Unction may be given to all Christians dangerously ill, who have ever been capable of committing sin after baptism and who have the right dispositions for the Sacrament. Hence it is never given to children who have not reached the use of reason, nor to persons who have always been insane.
This Sacrament is never given to heretics in danger of death, because they cannot be supposed to have the intention necessary for receiving it, nor the desire to make use of the Sacrament of Penance in putting themselves in a state of grace.
It was instituted by Our Lord Himself -- though we do not know at what particular time -- for He alone can make a visible act a means of grace, and the apostles and their successors could never have believed Extreme Unction a Sacrament and used it as such unless they had Our Lord's authority for so doing.
A. The parts of the body anointed in Extreme Unction are: The eyes, the ears, the nose or nostrils, the lips, the hands and the feet, because these represent our senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch, which are the means through which we have committed most of our sins.
A table covered with a white cloth; a crucifix; two lighted candles in candlesticks; holy water in a small vessel, with a small piece of palm for a sprinkler; a glass of clean water; a tablespoon and a napkin or cloth, to be placed under the chin of the one receiving the Viaticum.
A. The further preparation for the administration of the last Sacraments requires that out of respect for the Sacraments, and in particular for the presence of Our Lord, everything about the sick-room, the sick person and even the attendants, should be made as neat and clean as possible. Especially should the face, hands and feet of the one to be anointed be thoroughly clean.
A. In case of serious illness, if the sick person will not consent, or is afraid to receive the Sacraments, or, at least, wishes to put off their reception, we should send for the priest at once and let him do what he thinks best in the case, and thus we will free ourselves from the responsibility of letting a Catholic die without the last Sacraments.
A. Extreme Unction will take away mortal sin if the dying person is no longer able to confess, provided he has the sorrow for his sins that would bee necessary for the worthy reception of the Sacrament of Penance.
A. Since Extreme Unction may restore us to health. we should be glad to receive it, and we should not delay its reception till we are so near death that God could restore us only by a miracle. Again, this Sacrament, like the others, gives sanctifying and sacramental grace, which we should be eager to obtain as soon as our sickness is sufficient to give us the privilege of receiving the last Sacraments.
A. The final preparation we should make for the reception of the last Sacraments consists in an earnest effort to be resigned to God's Holy Will, to excite ourselves to true sorrow for our sins, to profit by the graces given us, to keep worldly thoughts from the mind, and to dispose ourselves as best we can for the worthy reception of the Sacraments and the blessings of a good death.
A. Persons dangerously ill should attend to the final arrangement of their temporal or worldly affairs at the very beginning of their illness, that these things may not distract them at the hour of death, and that they may give the last hours of their life entirely to the care of their soul.
A. Besides bishops and priests, the other ministers of the Church are deacons and subdeacons, who, while preparing for the priesthood, have received some of the Holy Orders, but who have not been ordained to the full powers of the priest.
A. This Sacrament is called Holy Orders because it is conferred by seven different grades or steps following one another in fixed order by which the sacred powers of the priesthood are gradually given to the one admitted to that holy state.
A. These different orders are not separate Sacraments. Taken all together, some are a preparation for the Sacrament and the rest are but the one Sacrament of Holy Orders; as the roots, trunk and branches form but one tree.
A. Sub-deaconship, deaconship and priesthood are called major or greater orders, because those who receive them are bound for life to the service of the altar and they cannot return to the service of the world to live as ordinary laymen.
A. The Church possesses and confers on her pastor, the power of orders and the power of jurisdiction; that is, the power to administer the Sacraments and sanctify the faithful, and the power to teach and make laws that direct the faithful to their spiritual good. A bishop has the full power of orders and the Pope alone has the full power of jurisdiction.
A. The prelates or higher officers of the Church rank in dignity as they rank in authority, except that in dignity Cardinals are next to the Pope, and Vicars Apostolic, Monsignori, and others having titles follow bishops. Papal delegates and those specially appointed by the Pope rank according to the powers he has given them.
A. Cardinals are the members of the Supreme Council or Senate of the Church. Their duties are to advise and aid the Pope in the government of the Church, and to elect a new Pope when the reigning Pope dies. They are divided into committees called sacred congregations, each having, its special work to perform. All these congregations taken together are called the Sacred College of Cardinals, of which the whole number is seventy.
A. A Vicar-General is one who is appointed by the bishop to aid him in the government of his diocese. He shares the bishop's power and in the bishop's absence he acts for the bishop and with his authority.
A. An Abbot is one who exercises over a religious community of men authority similar in many things to that exercised by a bishop over his diocese. He has also certain privileges usually granted to bishops.
A. The pallium is a white woolen vestment worn by the Pope and sent by him to patriarchs, primates and archbishops. It is the symbol of the fullness of pastoral power, and reminds the wearer of the Good Shepherd, whose example he must follow.
A. This divine call is named a vocation to the priestly or religious life. We can discover it in our constant inclination to such a life from the pure and holy motive of serving God better in it, together with our fitness for it, or, at least, our ability to prepare for it, also in our true piety and mastery over our sinful passions and unlawful desires.
2. That it is sinful for them to resist the Will of God by endeavoring to turn their children from their true vocation or to prevent them from following it by placing obstacles in their way, and, worst of all, to urge them to enter a state of life to which they have not been divinely called;
A. We know that the priests of the Church are the messengers of God, because Christ said to His apostles, and through them to their successors: "As the Father hath sent Me, I also send you"; that is to say, to preach the true religion, to administer the Sacraments, to offer Sacrifice, and to do all manner of good for the salvation of souls.
A. The priests of the Church received this three-fold power to preach, to forgive sins and to consecrate bread and wine, when Christ said to them, through the apostles: "Go teach all nations"; "Whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven," and "Do this for a commemoration of Me."
Therefore, we should be most careful in what we do, say or think concerning God's ministers. To show our respect in proportion to their dignity, we address the priest as Reverend, the bishop as Right Reverend, the archbishop as Most Reverend, and the Pope as Holy Father.
A. We should do more than merely respect the ministers of God. We should earnestly and frequently pray for them, that they may be enabled to perform the difficult and important duties of their holy state in a manner pleasing to God.
A. Bishops, priests and other ministers of the Church cannot exercise the power they have received in Holy Orders unless authorized and sent to do so by their lawful superiors. The power can never be taken from them, but the right to use it may be withdrawn for causes laid down in the laws of the Church, or for reasons that seem good to those in authority over them. Any use of sacred power without authority is sinful, and all who take part in such ceremonies are guilty of sin.
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