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St. Thomas Aquinas
Explanation of the Sacraments

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Extreme unction
 
The fifth Sacrament is Extreme Unction. Its matter is olive oil blessed by 
the bishop. This Sacrament should only be received by those who are in 
danger of death through sickness. They are to be anointed in the places of 
the five senses: that is, on the eyes, because it is the organ of the sense 
of sight; on the ears, because of hearing; on the nostrils, because of 
smell; on the lips, because of taste or speech; and on the hands because of 
touch, and on the feet because of walking.30 The form of this Sacrament is 
this: "Through this anointing and through His most divine mercy, may the 
Lord forgive thee whatever thou hast committed through sight" (and so on 
for the other senses). The minister of this Sacrament is the priest. The 
effect of this Sacrament is a medicine for both mind and body.31
 
Concerning this Sacrament is the error of the Elaeonitae, who are said to 
anoint their dying with oil and balsam and water and to accompany the 
anointing with invocations in Hebrew pronounced over the head of the sick. 
This is, however, contrary to the form handed down by St. James, as given 
above.
 
 
 
 
 



30
. Anointing of the feet may now be omitted (Canon 947).
 


31
. "This Sacrament imparts grace which remits sins, especially lighter 
sins or venial sins; for mortal sins are removed by the Sacrament of 
Penance. Extreme Unction was not instituted primarily for the remission of 
grave offenses; only Baptism and Penance accomplish this directly. . . . 
Finally, the recovery of health, if indeed advantageous, is another effect 
of the Sacrament" ("Roman Catechism," "Extreme Unction," 14-16).





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