Extreme Unction

Girl on a Swing in Central Park. New York Historical Society.

The last days of August. It is time to let be. Time to lie in a hammock and take bribes. Read. Doze. Plan the rest of my life. Anything except trawl for words at a computer. But first, let me post the last of the comments that came in on the declension of Extreme Unction into an all-purpose Anointing of the Sick. A thread that runs through them is recognition of what one respondent refers to as a lack of discernment—or faithful discharge—on the part of either priest or parishioner. Continue Reading
Jamaica postcard

My earlier essay on Extreme Unction generated a considerable volume of mail. All of it was thoughtful. There were simply too many to quote, or to include in a single blog post.buy proscar generic https://onlineandnewblo.com/proscar.html over the counter So, herewith are two that represent the tenor of much of the correspondence. Others will appear in another post. The first, by a Lutheran pastor, is a cry of the heart. Pastor B. opens a sad window onto the dilemmas and anxieties awaiting priests at the bedside of the dying:
Lutherans might not call it Extreme Unction, but Commendation of the Dying with confession, absolution and Eucharist was historically practiced.
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Anonymous. Hell (15th C.). Church of St. Petronius, Bologna.

Instead of the sorry and unbecoming spectacle of the priest racing with death to the bedside of the sick, the Church prescribes a devout and dignified procession from church to home, with the minister assisted by clergy and acolytes and accompanied by devout layfolk . . . .
—Rubrics of the 1962 Rituale Romanum Liturgies change for the sake of the living. Protocols adjust to the shifting tenor and tempo of the centuries. But the hour of death is ever the same. Continue Reading
Death of Daniel O’Connell. Currier Lithograph (1847). Museum of the City of New York.

Whatever happened to Extreme Unction? Who are the baleful liturgists who drove a stake through the sacrament and nailed it to the ground? No need to answer that. I know who they are. They are the same ruinous bien pensants who confused the Zeitgeist of the 1960s and ‘70s with the cooing of the Holy Spirit. Let God forgive them; I cannot. Unction for those in extremis was stripped of its exclusive purpose and ritual dignity in the wake of Vatican II. Continue Reading