The Sacraments of Healing are comprised of the sacraments of Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick. All of us experience the need for healing. We are subject to sin, suffering, disease and death. We begin to heal by reconciling with God and receiving the prayers and holy oil for the sick and dying.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is the first of two sacraments of healing. It is the sacrament of spiritual healing of a baptized person from the distancing from God resulting from sins committed. When people sin after baptism, they cannot have baptism as a remedy; Baptism, which is a spiritual regeneration, cannot be given a second time.
The sacrament involves four elements: (1) Contrition (the penitent’s sincere remorse for wrongdoing or sin, repentance, without which the rite has no effect); (2) Confession to a priest who has the faculty to hear confessions (Canon 966.1) – while it may be spiritually helpful to confess to another, only a priest has the power to administer the sacrament; (3) Absolution by the priest; and, (4) Satisfaction or penance.
“Many sins wrong our neighbour. One must do what is possible in order to repair the harm (e.g., return stolen goods, restore the reputation of someone slandered, pay compensation for injuries). Simple justice requires as much. But sin also injures and weakens the sinner himself, as well as his relationships with God and neighbour. Absolution takes away sin, but it does not remedy all the disorders sin has caused. Raised up from sin, the sinner must still recover his full spiritual health by doing something more to make amends for the sin: he must ‘make satisfaction for’ or ‘expiate’ his sins. This satisfaction is also called ‘penance'” (CCC 1459).
The priest is bound by the “seal of confession”, which is inviolable. Accordingly, it is absolutely wrong for a confessor in any way to betray the penitent, for any reason whatsoever, whether by word or in any other fashion.
The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is administered to a person “who, having reached the age of reason, begins to be in danger due to sickness or old age”, except in the case of those who “persevere obstinately in manifest grave sin”. Proximate danger of death, the occasion for the administration of the Eucharist, is not required, but only the onset of a medical condition considered to be a possible prelude to death.
The sacrament is administered by a priest, who uses olive oil or another pure plant oil to anoint the patient’s forehead and perhaps other parts of the body while reciting certain prayers. It is believed to give comfort, peace, courage and, if the sick person is unable to make a confession, even forgiveness of sins.