Monday, October 3, 2011

A question of time.

Imagine a person NOT at peace with God, having left the church a long time ago.

If that person is unconscious in hospital and is expected to die, and the priest administers the last rites, Extreme Unction, and the person dies without gaining consciousness.

Is that person now at peace with God and in Heaven, or Purgatory?

Technically speaking, the unconscious person had no say in the actions of the priest. So are the last rites valid?

What say you?


  1. Well, their physical body may be unconcious but God can still work in their souls, don't you think? I say this because of the time when Jesus brought my soul into his Presence. If my husband (who was at work at the time) had walked in the bedroom what would he have seen? I always wonder this. I was still sitting in the same place when I came back (upright on the edge of my bed). I guess my point is that the spirit can be worked on without the body. I wish Randy had been home as I'm very curious what he would have done if his wife had not responded to him. I had no awareness of the physical world at all. Absolutely none. So, I'm assuming the same thing could happen to an unconcious person.

    Interesting post :)

  2. Victor,
    Good question. My thought on this is while the person may be unconscious, God knows this person;s heart and desires. So I tend to agree with Mary that God does not need our bodies to work on or see the state of our souls. I would rather see the priest perhaps err on the side of caution and anoint the person.

  3. I'm trying to think logically, which is somewhat unusual for me.

    We say that we should all confess our sins, repent and accept Jesus as our Savior. We do this consciously and we follow the Word by attending Mass, receiving the Sacraments etc ... throughout our lives.

    In my example, I describe a situation where a person has CONSCIOUSLY decided not to accept God for years. Through some accident, he is unconscious in hospital. Had he been awake, he would most probably have told the priest to go away.

    Is the priest right to anoint a body which in all essence is probably dead, although physically/medically still alive? The man did not ask the priest for annointment, forgiveness or whatever; this is done at the request of relatives.

    Does the annointing and prayers do anything to clean the sould of all sin? For all we know, the unconscious man probably doesn't believe or accept what the priest is doing.

    I know that God knows everything; and He can see within the man's conscious soul and would forgive him if the SOUL consciously confesses and repents. That being the case, the actions of the priest are un-necessary and superficial because the man can, within his conscious soul but unconscious body, repent and seek forgiveness.

    Is this too confusing? It is for me!

    God bless.

  4. I've been searching the Catechism. Have a read of this:

    "Extreme Unction may be validly administered only to Christians who have had the use of reason and who are in danger of death from sickness. That the subject must be baptized is obvious, since all the sacraments, besides baptism itself, are subject to this condition. This is implied in the text of St. James: 'Is any man sick among you?' i.e. any member of the Christian community; and tradition is so clear on the subject that it is unnecessary to delay in giving proof. It is not so easy to explain on internal grounds why extreme unction must be denied to baptized infants who are sick or dying, while confirmation, for instance, may be validly administered to them; but such is undoubtedly the traditional teaching and practice. Except to those who were capable of penance extreme unction has never been given."

    So I understand from this that the person should be able to understand sin; that's why it is not necessary to give extreme unction to baptised babies who are dying, because baptism has forgiven their original sin, and they have not yet sinned by themselves.

    The Catechism goes on to say:

    "Those who have always been insane or idiotic are to be treated in the same way as children; but anyone who has ever had the use of reason, though temporarily delirious by reason of the disease or even incurable insane, is to be given the benefit of the sacrament in case of serious illness."

    So, the insane and "idiots" are treated as children since technically they too have never sinned and they have been cleaned by baptism. However, the interesting bit is at the end of that sentence where it says that those who had had reason (i.e normal people) although now unconscious are to be given the benefit of the sacrament. This implies that in the case I've described in my post extreme unction to an unconscious man WOULD cleanse his soul.

    But what if his conscious soul does not want forgiveness? For example a baptised Christian who in time departed from God or even became atheist? The Catechism/encyclopedia is not clear about that.

    The Catechism goes on to say:

    " Nor will danger, or even certainty, of death from any other cause than sickness qualify a person for extreme unction. Hence criminals or martyrs about to suffer death and other similarly circumstanced may not be validly anointed unless they should happen to be seriously ill. But illness caused by violence, as by a dangerous or fatal wound, is sufficient; and old age itself without any specific disease is held by all Western theologians to qualify for extreme unction, i.e. when senile decay has advanced so far that death already seems probable."

    Presumably this is because criminals and martyrs about to undergo death should confess and repent like any one else. No extreme unction is necessary for them.

  5. Well, that settles it then! Lol!

    Can you tell I'm lost? No, not my soul...just my brain :)

    Victor, I'm am still having trouble commenting at Time for Reflections. Hopefully Blogger clears up this problem soon. It's happening on a number of blogs including my own.

  6. Thanx Mary. I'm still a little confused about the necessity of extreme unction for someone unconscious, who, if conscious, would not want it anyway.

    And I'm confused about you and others not being able to comment on my blog and that of others.

    Here's what my computer expert thinks. (Mary, please check with your computer expert too).

    Blogger now sends cookies to all people LEAVING comments. So if your browser (e.g. Internet Explorer) is set NOT to accept cookies then you will not be able to leave comments on my blog or anyone else's using Blogger. You'll be OK with people blogging with someone else e.g. Wordpress.

    A reader of mine tried commenting on my blog and that of others using Internet Explorer and failed. However, when they tried again using Google Chrome (set to accept cookies) they got through OK.

    That's a theory at least!

    Question (by Mary or any one else): Why then can I comment on the Community Blog and my Blog The Beautiful Gate?

    Answer: Because you own it.

    Plea from Vic Moubarak: Please set your browsers to accept cookies and comment on my blog because I am feeling very lonely at Time for Reflections.

    God bless us all and please deal with this new fangled technology.

    P.S. Is there a Patron Saint of Computers? Karinann, please check and let us know.

  7. I don't know about a patron saint for computers, but one of the reasons I chose St Paul as the patron of this blog is because if he were around today, I know he would have had a laptop :) I think he sits in heaven looking at all of us on these going: "Got to get me one of those!" :)
    Anyway~ I gave up Internet Explorer a long time ago. I use Google Chrome at home and I have Firefox at work. Both I find much friendlier to use.

  8. I agree with Karinann on both the anointing issue and the computer issue. Both situations are confusing, by the way but I am enjoying the comments.

  9. Victor,
    It's confusing to me too :)

    I don't know how to get my browser to accept cookies to be honest with you. I tried commenting again today but it didn't work. It finally went through on Karinann's though so maybe they are working on the problem. I'll figure it out won't be lonely for long :) You didn't adjust your comment settings by any chance?

  10. Hi everyone.

    No ... I didn't adjust my computer settings in any way. As you'll see from the current post entitled "Wherever you go" on my blog; only one person commented. That's the person who tried and failed with Internet Explorer then tried and succeeded to comment with Google Chrome.

    (Thinks) That song "Wherever you go" is quite appropriate in this situation. I feel I have been deserted. There seems to be a conspiracy of silence against me. Maybe I'll join it.

    PLEASE everyone. Just say "Hello" on my blog to see if it works. And/or say which browser you are using. Thanx.

    God bless.

  11. Very interesting post.
    My father, who died this past June, received Extreme Unction while he was completely non-responsive and unconscious.
    At the time, I wondered similarly as you Victor...for part of the Sacrament includes the words, "I now absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father....." and the priest deliberately called my father by name preceding that...
    At that moment, I found myself wondering, "How can he forgive my Dad's sins when my Dad has not confessed anything and can not willingly respond to this"?

    An infant can be baptized, yes...but that is for "Original Sin"...the infant has not committed Actual Sin in need of Reconciliation.

    I wonder...perhaps some of you can answer...(Colleen...Rich could answer maybe?)
    As an adult coming through RCIA...does one receive First Reconciliation or are all the sins forgiven during that person's Baptism at the Vigil? My memory on this is foggy. I can't imagine that Baptism only "partially" cleanses, leaving an adult in need of confessing...that doesn't really make sense.

    Back to my it that the "intent" or "desire" would be presumed because of his good standing with the Church...therefore, we can assume that if he WERE conscious, he would WANT to confess?

    Glad you brought this up Victor because, actually, it's been perplexing me too.

    I understand that your scenario is different in that your "person" was someone who was rejecting God and my father was not...but still...I think it's similar, as well.

  12. Oh...and I forgot the most confusing father received Extreme Unction TWICE while I was there...he had not come to consciousness in between...and so I wondered, "Why was the second time necessary"? Not that there is every a bad time for a blessing...but you get my point.

  13. Colleen...silly me... YOU could answer my RCIA question because YOU came into the Church that way, right? LOL (Duh!)

  14. Thank you Judy for your very helpful contribution.

    I agree; in your father's case it was assumed that, because of his life, had he been conscious he would have wished/wanted Extreme Unction. I accept and understand that, although, like you, I'm a little confused about the need to do it twice.

    The example I mentioned about the unconscious person actually happened recently. That person was not in the church and had not been for some thirty years. I don't know whether, if conscious, they would have wanted Extreme Unction. It was given to an unconscious body/brain; but obviously to a still present and very conscious soul since the person was not dead. My question, which is not answered by the Catechism quotes above, is the soul benefiting from Extreme Unction and forgiven; if it wanted to of course?

    Regarding baptism. As I understand it, we're all born with original sin of Adam and Eve (although why I should have responsibility for someone else's sin has always been a mystery to me; I've enough trouble dealing with my own responsibilities, never mind taking on Adam's and Eve's).

    Anyway, as I was saying before I interrupted myself. We're all born with original sin which is washed away/forgiven with baptism. Because a child cannot reason then strictly speaking he does not need Extreme Unction, if ill/dying, because he has not sinned since baptism. When a child actually starts sinning is a matter of debate since each develops differently.

    I don't know the answer to your RCIA question. Perhaps others better qualified than me can help here.

    God bless you Judy.

  15. I am praying for your father, Judy.

    Although, since he is in Heaven, perhaps we should ask him to pray for us.

    God bless.