In the Eastern Orthodox (schismatical) Church this sacrament is normally administered by a number of priests (seven, five, three; but in case of necessity even one is enough); and it is the priests themselves who bless the oil on each occasion before use. At the present time, however, there has been a revival more or less among Anglicans of Catholic teaching and practice. Puller (Anointing of the Sick in Scripture and Tradition, London, 1904), "seeing the plain injunction about Unction in the pages of the New Testament, jump hastily to the conclusion that the Roman teaching and practice in regard to Unction is right, and seek to revive the use of Unction as a channel of sanctifying grace, believing that grace is imparted sacramentally through the oil as a preparation for death" (p. His more advanced friends can appeal to the authority of one of their classical writers, Bishop Forbes of Brechin, who admits (Exposition of the XXXIX Articles, vol. 463) that "unction of the sick is the Lost Pleiad of the Anglican firmament. Previous to the Reformation there appears to have been no definite heresy relating to this sacrament in particular. In this connection there are only two texts to be discussed--Mark , and James -15--and the first of these may be disposed of briefly. To perform this rite fully takes an appreciable time, but in cases of urgent necessity, when death is likely to occur before it can be completed, it is sufficient to employ a single unction (on the forehead, for instance) with the general form: "Through this holy unction may the Lord pardon thee whatever sins or faults thou hast committed." By the decree of 25 April, 1906, the Holy Office has expressly approved of this form for cases of urgent necessity. Luther denied the sacramentality of extreme unction and classed it among rites that are of human or ecclesiastical institution (De Captivit. The same is to be said of the other Protestant bodies, and down to our day the denial of the Tridentine doctrine on extreme unction has been one of the facts that go to make up the negative unanimity of Protestantism. Puller himself is not prepared to go so far, though he pleads for the revival of the Jacobean unction, which he regards as a mere sacramental instituted for the supernatural healing of bodily sickness only. There has been practically lost an apostolic practice, whereby, in case of grievous sickness, the faithful were anointed and prayed over, for the forgiveness of their sins, and to restore them, if God so willed, or to give them spiritual support in their maladies". That the Wycliffites and Hussites were suspected of contemning extreme unction is clear from the interrogatory already referred to, but the present writer has failed to discover any evidence of its specific rejection by these heretics.This rite will therefore be a true sacrament if it has the sanction of Christ's authority, and is intended by its own operation to confer grace on the sick person, to work for his spiritual benefit.But the words "in the name of the Lord" here mean "by the power and authority of Christ", which is the same as to say that St.
A few verses further on the predominating spiritual and eschatological connotation of "saving" in St.
ii), and others--holding against the more common view that this sacrament had been instituted by the Apostles after the Descent of the Holy Ghost and under His inspiration.
That by "the priests of the church" are meant the hierarchical clergy, and not merely elders in the sense of those of mature age, is also abundantly clear.
James's mind emerges clearly in the expression, "shall save his soul from death" (v, 20), and without necessarily excluding a reference to deliverance from bodily death in verse 15, we are certainly justified in including in that verse a reference to the saving of the soul. 289 sqq.) in the absolute and universal expressions in which Christ assures us that our prayers will be heard.
Moreover, the Apostle could not, surely, have meant to teach or imply that every sick Christian who was anointed would be cured of his sickness and saved from bodily death; yet the unction is clearly enjoined as a permanent institution in the Church for all the sick faithful, and the saving and raising up are represented absolutely as being the normal, if not infallible, effect of its use. We admit that our rightly disposed prayers are always and infallibly efficacious for our ultimate spiritual good, but not by any means necessarily so for the specific temporal objects or even the proximate spiritual ends which we ourselves intend. James assurance that the prayer-unction shall be efficacious.
As to the actual paucity of early testimonies, various explanations have been offered. The earliest accurately preserved commentary is that of St. 735), who, as we shall see, is a witness for this sacrament, as is also Victor of Antioch (fifth century), the earliest commentator on St. Second, it is clear, at the period when testimonies become abundant, that the unction was allied to penance as a supplementary sacrament, and as such was administered regularly before the Viaticum.