(Editor’s note: Deacon Frank Agnoli presents the 11th in his series of articles on the healing sacraments. He is director of liturgy and of deacon formation for the Davenport Diocese.)
In this series, we have covered sin and healing from sin’s effects: the sacrament of reconciliation and indulgences. We have spent the last two columns summarizing the Church’s teaching on death. As I mentioned, theologically, death is a consequence of the sin that affects creation, a consequence of our brokenness. So, too, is illness. Our bodies are finite; life will end in bodily death … and on the way we will experience all sorts of limitations: physical, emotional/psychological, spiritual.
Following the example of Jesus, the Church also reaches out to minister to us on this journey, at these times of crisis, in sacramental and non-sacramental ways. Certainly, as individuals and as parish communities, we are called upon to help meet the physical or material needs of those who are ill or dying, of their families and of the bereaved. Going shopping, helping with transportation or child care, providing for meals or for time away — these are all part of pastoral care to the sick and dying and to their families. But the focus of this series is how we extend this care liturgically and, in particular, sacramentally.
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