8 The Origins of the Sacrament of Anointing the Sick
The sacrament of the anointing of the sick is one of the sacraments in the Catholic faith, which belongs to the category of the sacrament of healing. This sacrament is intended for those who want recovery, both physically and spiritually. Besides aiming to heal, the sacrament of anointing the sick or sacrament of holy oil also aims to get forgiveness.
Some teachings say, the reason why this sacrament has healing and forgiveness meanings because this sacrament comes from the work and life of Jesus Christ. In the understanding of the Scriptures, we can know many miracles and stories about Jesus, who healed and forgiven sinners, as well as how He ruled over all evil, disease, and even death. So it was Jesus’ life that became the origin of the anointing of the sick.
The following are the origins of the sacrament of the anointing of the sick, namely:
1. The Early Church
In Mark 6:13, it is written that Jesus’ disciples cast out many demons, rubbed many sick people with oil, and healed them. This is one example of the practice of anointing the sick in the early church.
But at that time, this anointing was done not in the form of a sacrament, but only in healing services. Paul’s correspondence regards it as a charismatic gift of healing, whereas the letter of James prefers the practice to be a more ecclesiastical healing service.
This view of the meaning of the anointing continued throughout the early Patristic Period. Because in the third and fourth centuries, Origen and John Chrysostom interpreted the letter of James as healing rather than physical. They thought that the Lord Jesus, who was a Jew, would definitely feel strange with the term physical and spiritual healing; they thought that Jesus might see healing as something that affects the whole person.
2. The 5th century
The use of oil is not only used by priests. Lay people may also use it whenever needed. And as the development of the origins of the anointing of the sick, opinions about the meaning of the anointing of the sick are also growing.
3. Patristic Period
The meaning of the sacrament of holy oil changed from the original teaching. Real healing was obtained from the prayers of the faithful and accompanied by the anointing of holy oil when it turned into the dominance of holy oil. Many people consider oil as a sacred medicine from the church. They believe in the power of anointing oil to heal, and consequently, its use has become irregular. They anoint one another and apply anointing oil to the affected part without being accompanied by faith.
4. Carolingian Period
There was another change in the meaning of the anointing of the sick in the Carolingian Period. The change began with the formation of a healing ritual for a dying priest. The ritual begins with the reception of the sacrament of repentance and continues with the sacrament of anointing of the sick. Then in the tenth century, this anointing was only common for those who were dying. Until finally, many people named the anointing sacrament as the last sacrament. This is the beginning of a very drastic shift in meaning regarding the anointing of the sacrament.
5. 12th century
The practice of anointing oil is not only applied to the affected parts, but also to the five human senses. This reflects the idea that the senses are the cause of sin.
Some Franciscan theologians speculate that the sacrament of anointing is specifically to forgive contemptible sins, while the theologian Dominika feels that the sacrament of anointing aims to erase the remnants of sin, that is, the bad habits of Christians who may still be committed after forgiveness.
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