August 21, 2014

The Last Rites

Angels, Anointing and Peace at the Last Fr. Dwight Longnecker

The rite is so simple and so ordinary…no signs and wonders it seemed…no amazing miracles…or so it seemed…just the Lord’s presence and the Church’s sacrament.
At the anointing itself there was a sense of quiet wonder and gratitude.

Then in each case I went on to recite the precious prayers for passing….”Go forth upon your journey Christian soul. Go in the name of God the Father who created you. Go in the name of Jesus Christ who redeemed you. Go in the name of the Holy Spirit…Go forth….”  Then a prayer that the Holy Guardian angels might take her and lead her into paradise.  Then it was over.
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The last rites are one of the times when we see the power of the sacraments and I have never seen the prayers and anointing not bring peace when they have been asks for. The person really does go forth on their journey in peace. They are given their passport and they may go in peace.  I experienced it again twice in the last three days.
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I remember reading somewhere that Evelyn Waugh was questioned about the deathbed scene of Lord Marchmain in Brideshead Re-Visited. If you are unfamiliar with the scene, old Lord Marchmain comes home to die. He’s been a lapsed Catholic and rebellious against the church. Then on his death bed the priest comes and anoints him. When he leads through the confession he asks old Marchmain for a sign that he has heard and his will is engaged. Out of his unconsciousness Marchmain feebly makes the sign of the cross.

Waugh was challenged. “That scene was simply too unrealistic.” his critic complained.

Waugh replied, “That was the only thing in the book which was based in a very real experience. Everything else was fictional, but that scene was accurate. I saw such a thing happen.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at August 21, 2014 11:55 AM | Permalink