The Church asks the sick to help their fellow Christians by offering their sufferings in union with the sufferings and Death of Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Anointing of the Sick prepares us for eternal life, if it is our time to die. It promotes the restoration to health, if it is God’s will that we serve Him still longer here on earth. Our Lord increases the divine life in souls through this sacrament, and enables us to offer our sufferings in union with His own on the Cross, that we might share in the work of redemption. We can contribute to the welfare of the Church, not only by repairing for sin, but also by meriting grace for the sanctification of the Church. If we share in Christ’s sufferings, we can expect to share also in His glory.
Before the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, the priest usually offers the sick person the Sacrament of Penance, and, after the anointing, he gives him the Holy Eucharist as viaticum. The Last Blessing, which may bring with it a plenary indulgence, is given also. This is what St. James had in mind when he said: “Therefore confess your sins to one another… that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects” (James 5:16). Our Merciful Lord pours His love and consolation upon a sick Christian through this sacrament.