Solemnity of Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Today, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.  On this day, we remember Jesus’ divine love as God the Son, his human love in his human nature, and his human emotions…including joy, sorrow, and even humor.

It is interesting that the Gospel passage chosen is the same Gospel passage most often used in the Anointing of the Sick.  Jesus knows suffering from his own experience.  He has a special compassion for those that suffer.  He has compassion on those in need of this sacrament.  Remember the root meaning of the word compassion is “to suffer with.”

We no longer regard this sacrament as “Extreme Unction” or “Last Rites.”  It is not reserved for those actively dying.  It can be repeated if one’s health worsens or if a new recurrence of the condition occurs.  It is for all those suffering from a condition that leaves them at risk of death.  A diagnosis of cancer, an upcoming surgery with general anesthesia, and almost any overnight hospital stay for a serious condition would be examples of when the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick could be done.  It is not necessary to wait to time the sacrament for just before the moment of death of a loved one.  That just creates unnecessary stress on the family at a difficult time as everyone then must hope that the priest makes it in time.

There is something called the Apostolic Pardon that the priest imparts for those who are dying.  Attached to this is a plenary indulgence which remits all temporal punishment for forgiven sin.  So, it is important that our sins be forgiven.  I always recommend a nightly Act of Contrition for venial sins and the Sacrament of Reconciliation as soon as possible (even by appointment) for mortal sins.  But, if a priest is not available, this plenary indulgence is granted by the Church to any of the Christian faithful at the point of death provided that they have been in the habit of reciting some prayers during their lifetime.  In this case, the “Church supplies for the three conditions [Confession, Eucharist, and prayers for the intentions of the Holy Father] ordinarily required for a plenary indulgence.”

In preparing for death, we prepare to be fully united with Jesus’ Sacred Heart.  It is also often up to us to help ensure that our loved ones are prepared.

How am I preparing myself?  Have I communicated to my loved ones how I want them to help me prepare, should it be necessary?