Newsletter of the District
- April 1999
New Sacrament of Extreme Unction
and effects of the Sacrament of Extreme Unction according to the
traditional doctrine of the Church.
"Extreme Unction is a sacrament instituted for the spiritual
as well as for the temporal comfort of the sick in danger of death
of St. Pius X
is the effect of this sacrament?
is the grace of the Holy Ghost, whose anointing takes away sins,
if there are any still to be expiated, and removes the trace of
sin; and it comforts and strengthens the soul of the sick person.
It gives him great confidence in the divine mercy. Encouraged by
this, the sick man more easily bears the inconvenience and trial
of his illness and more easily resists the temptations of the devil
who lies in wait for his heel. This anointing occasionally restores
health to the body, if health would be of advantage to the salvation
of the soul. " (Council of Trent. 14 session).
As a consequence,
"it is well to receive Extreme Unction while the sick person
retains the, use of his senses, and while there remains some hope
of his recovery, because he thus receives it with better dispositions
and is hence able to derive greater fruit from it; and because this
sacrament restores health of body (should it be for the good of
the soul) by assisting the powers of nature; and hence it should
not be deferred until recovery is despaired of " (Catechism
of Saint Pius X).
2. The change
of the doctrine and of the practice since the Council Vatican II.
Constitution on the Sacred-Liturgy, Dec. 4, 1963.
Paul VI : Apostolic Constitution on the sacrament of the anointing
of the sick, Nov. 30, 1972.
New Canon Law (1983)
The Effects of the Sacrament of Extreme Unction
of Extreme Unction has been principally instituted to cure the sickness
of the sin. " (St. Thomas Aquinas Summa Suppl 30,1) This
doctrine is developed by the Council of Trent quoted above.
The new doctrine of
the sacrament of Extreme Unction clearly appears in the new ritual
of the benediction of the oil of the sick by the Bishop on Holy
of the oil of The Sick:
O Lord, the Holy Ghost on this olive oil (...) to restore the
soul and the body (...) in order that those who will receive
this unction will have a help for the soul and the body."
"Send, O Lord,
the Holy Ghost on this and oil (...) to restore the body (...)
in order that those who will receive this unction will have a
help for the body
It is clear
that the new doctrine insists on the corporal effect of the sacrament.
It is an inversion of the traditional doctrine of the Church.
The person being able to receive the sacrament of Extreme Unction.
This new doctrine
insisting on the effects of this sacrament on the body, we find
in the new sacramental discipline a changing concerning those who
can receive this sacrament:
of Extreme Unction can only be administered to the faithful "(...)
who are in danger of death because of sickness or old age"(Traditional
Canon Law C940). This doctrine had always been taught in the Church.
Let us only quote the council of Florence (15th century): "This
sacrament should not be given except to the sick whose death is
The sacrament of
the anointing of the sick can be administered to the faithful
(...) who begin to be in danger because of sickness or old
age" (New Canon Law. C1004). The word "death "
has been suppressed. However, it was mentioned in Vatican II's
Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, n. 73: "who begin to
be in danger of death. "
if the sacrament is given to somebody who certainly is not in danger
of death (because if there is a doubtful danger of death, it is
allowed, in the traditional practice of the Church, to give the
sacrament "under condition")?
is certainly not in danger of death, the constant teaching of the
Church until Vatican II tells that the sacrament is probably
invalid (NAZ, Dictionary of Canon Law).
on the cure of the body and the suppression of the danger of death
as a necessary condition for the reception of Extreme Unction have
1. The changing
of the traditional name "Extreme Unction" into
" Anointing of the sick" or "Sacrament of the sick."
2. The administration
of the sacrament to the persons who are not in danger of death:
people may be anointed if they are weak, though not dangerously
to the rite of anointing sick and to the pastoral care of the sick"
Dec. 7, 1972). This is probably invalid.
And while the
catechism of the Council of Trent said that "the danger
of death must arise from sickness" (which means: not from
an exterior cause), we see frequently today the anointing of persons
before a surgery (when the danger of death doesn't come from the
illness itself), or of those condemned to death, before their execution
- which is again probably invalid.
3. The third
consequence concerns the condition for re-administering this sacrament.
The new canon Law (n.1004) says that "this sacrament can
be given another time (...) if, during the same sickness
the danger becomes more serious. " The traditional
Canon Law said: "This sacrament cannot be
reiterated during the same sickness, unless the sick, after having
received the unction, sufficiently recovered and fell again in
danger of death" (C.940).
Another important change concerns the matter of the sacrament.
matter of a sacrament is the sensible thing made use of; in
effecting the sacrament. " (Catechism of Saint Pius X)
of the Sacrament of Extreme Unction is olive oil blessed by a bishop."
(Council of Florence) "Olive oil alone" (Catechism
of the Council of Trent) The Holy Office declared September 14,1842),
that "it is rash and close to error, to assert that
this sacrament could be valid with another oil."
Constitution on the sacrament of the anointing of the sick
(Nov. 30,1972) says: "The sick are to be anointed with blessed
olive oil or, as circumstances suggest, with another
oil extracted from plants." There is here an obvious danger
should be done on these parts: on the eyes because of sight, on
the ears because of hearing, on the nose because of smelling, on
the mouth because of taste or speech, on the hands because
of touch, on the feet because of walking. " (Council
"The sick are
to be anointed on the forehead and hands. " (Paul VI. Apostolic
constitution on the sacrament of the anointing of the sick)
The traditional rite
has 5 unctions, the new rite has only two. This alone does not render
it invalid, because "in case of necessity, only one unction
is sufficient" (Traditional Canon Law n.947), but with
this reduction of the number of the unctions, the sacrament loses
much of its meaning.
It is again
a consequence of the changing of the doctrine concerning the effects
of this sacrament. In the traditional rite, the anointing of the
5 senses mean that this sacrament cures the sickness of the sins
committed by the means of the 5 senses. In the new doctrine,
there is an insistence on the cure of the body. Thus, 2 anointments
on the body are sufficient.
d. The minister
of Extreme Unction
of Trent says: "If anyone says that the presbyter of the
Church, who St. James says should be called in to anoint the person
who is sick, are not priests ordained by the bishop, but the older
men of any community, and that consequently the proper minister
of Extreme Unction is not the priest alone: let him be anathema.
" (4th Canon on Extreme Unction).
is important today, where, in some cases, Extreme Unction is administered
by deacons, sisters or lay people. It is then certainly invalid.
Note re: the
Apostolic Blessing in articulo mortis (when death is approaching).
The traditional Roman ritual of this sacrament says that this blessing
is usually given along with Extreme Unction, and grants a plenary
indulgence (remission of the whole penalty of purgatory) for the
dying. It is a precious gift for him.
It is usually
not given anymore. This is a great lost for the dying.
The last important change concerns the form of this sacrament.
form of a sacrament is the words which are pronounced
to order to effect the sacrament. " (Catechism of Saint
"By this holy
unction and His pious mercy, may God forgive thee whatever sins
thou hast committed by the evil use of sight (hearing,
smell, taste and speech, touch)." (Traditional Roman
"By this holy
unction and His pious mercy, may God help you by the grace of the
Holy Spirit, in order that, delivered from your sins, God save you
and restore you in his goodness. "
In the new
form, the principal effect of the sacrament (curing the sickness
of the sins) is less clearly indicated, and the (secondary and accidental)
effect (curing the body) is added ("restore you").
doesn't invalidate the sacrament, because the essential meaning
is still there, but once again, the signification of the sacrament
is reduced. It is again a consequence of the new doctrine on Extreme
Unction since Vatican II, which insists more on the cure of the
body than on the cure of the sins.
Unction is administered with another oil than olive oil, it is
Unction is administered to persons, who are certainly not in danger
of death, or whose danger of death does not come from the sickness
itself (anointing of the sick before a surgery, when the danger
only comes from the surgery; or anointing of those condemned to
death before their execution), it is probably invalid.
Unction is administered by anyone who is not a validly ordained
priest, it is definitely invalid.
in the new form of Extreme Unction are not essential changes
which would invalidate the sacrament in itself. But these changes,
with time, present the danger of changing the intention of
the priest who administers the sacrament. He can have the intention
to restore only the body and not the soul, which then would render
the sacrament invalid and not give the grace to the sick.
we cannot accept this reform, which is so opposed to the traditional
doctrine of the Church on this sacrament; and because of the risks
of invalidity. It is therefore prudent to administer it again and
conditionally to somebody who would have received it in the new
study of Father Juan Carlos CERIANI, SSPX, in "Le sel de‑la
terre " nn. 7 and 10).