What SAY?: Council of TRENT and Early Church Fathers

City forward:

For a “rogue priest” that abandoned all his Priestly Vows before God to make the claim that Mother Church made up such sacraments as penance and Extreme Unction is entirely a “specious argument.” This man denies Apostolic paradosis from eye witnesses chosen by God, for his own opinions. Who could be persuaded by such folly? Luther refuses the authority of his beloved scripture buy claiming the Epistle of James the Apostle and first Bishop of Jerusalem (Jms5:14) doctrine an Epistle of straw”, in favor of his own religion rather than accept centuries of Church Praxis, on many matters that confirm Bishop, Apostle James words? In such, prideful arrogance he boasts to know better. For it was the Church who was with Him (Jesus) and stands now before Him for these 16 centuries, not Martin Luther! And yet the Church, through the Council of Trent commends evidence to repudiate Satan’s lie for the faithful, though she has granted complete authority; “Whatsoever” in administering the sacraments of penance our Lord left to His Church, for the salvation of our souls. (Mt16:19, Jn20:23) Christ manifestly spoke not once but twice, to his Apostles regarding His delegation of power from His Father to His Church; Once while ministering as True God, True Man, and the second time in an appearance after His resurrection, when doubting Apostle Thomas, proclaims “My Lord and my God.” Thus the Council of TRENT authoritatively states with complete confidence from God, her power to “bind OR loose”sin. With the pride of Satan, Martin Luther presumes to know God’s mind, a rogue heretic priest. Luther bloviates against all of it (in pure folly), let him and his followers be anathema, as St Paul subscribes for Heresy…. Proving once again Luther preferred his version of religion, to what Jesus and his Apostles taught, and denies the Church’s authority, as he did his VOWS!

Extreme Unction [Canon & Decrees of the Council of TRENT chapter IX]

The Works of Satisfaction:

The Council teaches furthermore that “the liberality of the divine munificence is so great that we are able through Jesus Christ to make satisfaction to God the Father not only by punishments voluntarily undertaken by ourselves to atone for sins, or by those imposed by the judgment of the priest according to the measure of our offense, but also, and this the greatest proof of love, by the temporal afflictions imposed by God and borne patiently by us.


It has seemed good to the holy council to add the proceeding doctrine on penance for following concerning the sacrament of extreme unction, which was considered by the Fathers as the completion not only of penance but also of the whole Christian life, which ought to be continual penance. First therefore with regard to its institutions it declares and teaches that our most benevolent Redeemer, who wished to have His servants at all times provided with salutary remedies against all the weapons of all enemies.(Eph6:10ff) as in the other sacraments He provided the greatest aids by means of which Christians may during life keep themselves free from every graver spiritual evil, so did He fortify the end of life by the sacrament of extreme unction as with the strongest defense. For though our adversary seeks and seizes occasions through out our while life to devour our souls in any manner (1Pet5:8) there is no time when he strains more vehemently all the powers of his cunning to ruin us utterly, and if possible to make us even lose faith in the divine mercy, than when he perceives that the end of our life is near.


The sacred Unction of the sick was instituted by Christ our Lord as truly and properly a sacrament of the New Law, alluded to indeed by Mark (Mk6:13) but recommended and announced to the faithful by James the Apostle and brother of the Lord. Is any man sick among you? Let him bring in the priests of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith shall save the sick man: and the Lord shall raise him up: and if he be in sins, they shall be forgiven him. (Jms5:14-15). In which words, as the Church has learned from Apostolic tradition received from hand to hand, he reaches the matter, form, proper administration and effects of this salutary sacrament. For the Church has understood that the matter is the oil blessed by the Bishops, because the anointing very aptly represent the grace of the Holy Ghost with which the soul of the sick person is invisibly anointed. The form, furthermore, are those words: By this unction, Etc.

CANONS Concerning The Sacrament of Extreme Unction:

Canon 1. If anyone says that extreme unction is not truly and properly a sacrament instituted by Christ our Lord and announced by the blessed Apostle James, but only a rite received from the Fathers or a human invention, let him be anathema.

Canon 2. If anyone says that the anointing of the sic, but that it has already ceased, as if it had been a healing grace only in the olden days, (Cf Supra, Ext Unct.,chap3), let him be anathema.

Canon 3. If anyone says that the rite and usage of extreme unction which the Holy roman Church observes is at variance with the statement of the blessed Apostle James (Jms5:14), and is therefore to be changed and may without sin be despised by Christians, let them be anathema.

Canon 4. If anyone says that the priests of the Church, whom blessed James exhorts to be brought to anoint the sick, are not the priests who have been ordained by a bishop, but the elders in each community, and that for this reason a priest only is not the proper minister of extreme unction (supra et. unct. Chap. 3., let them be anathema.

Extreme Unction Current Catechism of the Catholic Church:

CCC#1522: An ecclesial grace, The sick who receive this sacrament, “by freely uniting themselves to the passion and death of Christ,” Contribute to the good of the People of God.” By celebrating this sacrament the Church, in the communion of saints, intercedes for the benefit of the sick person, and he for his part, through the grace of this sacrament, contributes to the sanctification of the Church and to the good of all men for whom the Church suffers and offers herself through Christ to God the Father.

CCC#1523 A preparation for the final journey. If the sacrament of anointing of the sick is given to all who suffer from serious illness and infirmity, even more rightly is it given to those at the point of departing this life, so it is also called sacramentum execuntium (the sacrament of those departing). The Anointing of the Sick, completes our conformity to the death and Resurrection of Christ, just as Baptism began it. It completes the holy anointing that mark the whole Christian life; that of Baptism which sealed the new life in us, and that of Confirmation which strengthened us for the combat of this earthly life. This last anointing fortifies the end of our earthly life like solid rampart for the final struggles before entering the Father’s house.


Theologians are agreed that extreme unction may in certain circumstances be the only, and therefore the necessary, means of salvation for a dying person.

This happens when there is question of a person who is dying without the use of reason, and whose soul is burdened with the guilt of mortal sin for which he has only habitual attrition; and for this and similar cases in which other means of obtaining justification are certainly or even probably unavailing, there is no doubt as to the grave obligation of procuring extreme unction for the dying. But theologians are not agreed as to whether or not a sick person in the state of grace is per se under a grave obligation of seeking this sacrament before death. It is evident ex hypothesi that there is no obligation arising from the need of salvation (necessitate medii), and the great majority of theologians deny that a grave obligation per se has been imposed by Divine or ecclesiastical law. The injunction of St. James, it is said, may be understood as being merely a counsel or exhortation, not a command, and there is no convincing evidence form tradition that the Church has understood a Divine command to have been given, or has ever imposed one of her own.

Yet it is recognized that, in the words of Trent, “contempt of so great a sacrament cannot take place without an enormous crime and an injury to the Holy Ghost Himself” (Sess. XIV, cap. iii);

and it is held to depend on circumstances whether mere neglect or express refusal of the sacrament would amount to contempt of it. The soundness, however, of the reasons alleged for this common teaching is open to doubt, and the strength of the arguments advanced by so recent a theologian as Kern (pp. 364 sq.) to prove the existence of the obligation which so many have denied is calculated to weaken one’s confidence in the received opinion. Whom none of these were entrusted with the “keys or chosen by Jesus for His mission from the Father. “I send you as the Father sent me” [Mt10:40; Lk10:16; Jn5:23.13:20]

Sacramental efficacy of the rite

The Council of Trent (Sess. XIV, cap. i, De Extr. Unct.) teaches that “this sacred unction of the sick was instituted by Christ Our Lord as a sacrament of the New Testament, truly and properly so called, being insinuated indeed in Mark [6:13] but commended to the faithful and promulgated” by James [Ep., v, 14, 15]; and the corresponding canon (can. i, De Extr. Unct.) anathematizes anyone who would say “that extreme unction is not truly and properly a sacrament instituted by Christ Our Lord, and promulgated by the blessed Apostle James, but merely a rite received from the fathers, or a human invention”. Already at the Council of Florence, in the Instruction of Eugene IV for the Armenians (Bull “Exultate Deo”, 22 Nov., 1439), extreme unction is named as the fifth of the Seven Sacraments, and its matter and form, subject, minister, and effects described (Denzinger, “Enchiridion”, 10th ed., Freiburg, 1908, no. 700–old no. 595). Again, it was one of the three sacraments (the others being confirmation and matrimony) which Wycliffites and Hussites were under suspicion of contemning, and about which they were to be specially interrogated at the Council of Constance by order of Martin V (Bull “Inter cunctas”, 22 Feb., 1418.–Denzinger, op. cit., no. 669–old no. 563). Going back farther we find extreme unction enumerated among the sacraments in the profession of faith subscribed for the Greeks by Michael Palæologus at the Council of Lyons in 1274 (Denzinger, no. 465–old no. 388), and in the still earlier profession prescribed for converted Waldenses by Innocent III in 1208 (Denzinger, no. 424–old no. 370). Thus, long before Trent–in fact from the time when the definition of a sacrament in the strict sense had been elaborated by the early Scholastics– extreme unction had been recognized and authoritatively proclaimed as a sacrament; but in Trent for the first time its institution by Christ Himself was defined.

But since Trent it must be held as a doctrine of Catholic faith that Christ is at least the mediate author of extreme unction, i.e., that it is by His proper authority as God-Man that the prayer-unction has become an efficacious sign of grace; and theologians almost unanimously maintain that we must hold it to be at least certain that Christ was in some sense the immediate author of this sacrament, i.e., that He Himself while on earth commissioned the Apostles to employ some such sign for conferring special graces, without, however, necessarily specifying the matter and form to be used. In other words, immediate institution by Christ is compatible with a mere generic determination by Him of the physical elements of the sacrament. There has been practically lost an apostolic practice, whereby, in case of grievous sickness, the faithful were anointed and prayed over, for the forgiveness of their sins, and to restore them, if God so willed, or to give them spiritual support in their maladies“.

-Mark 6:13, and James 5:14-15

The text of St. James reads: “Is any man sick among you? Let him bring in the priests of the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith shall save [sosei ] the sick man: and the Lord shall raise him up [egerei ]: and if he be in sins, they shall be forgiven him.” And going forth they preached that men should do penance: And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them. St. James as an operative sign of grace? It may be admitted that the words “the prayer of faith shall save the sick man; and the Lord shall raise him up” This being so, and it being further assumed that the remission of sins is given by St. James as an effect of the prayer-unction, nothing is more reasonable than to hold that St. James is thinking of spiritual as well as of bodily effects when he speaks of the sick man being “saved” and “raised up”.

  1. The Evidence That by “the priests of the church” are meant the hierarchical clergy, and not merely elders in the sense of those of mature age, is also abundantly clear. The expression to us presbyterous, even if used alone, would naturally admit no other meaning, in accordance with the usage of the Acts, Pastoral Epistles, and 1 Peter 5; but the addition of tes ekklesias excludes the possibility of doubt (cf. Acts 20:17). The priests are to pray over the sick man, anointing him with oil. Here we have the physical elements necessary to constitute a sacrament in the strict sense: oil as remote matter, like water in baptism; the anointing as proximate matter, like immersion or infusion in baptism; and the accompanying prayer as form. This rite will therefore be a true sacrament if it has the sanction of Christ’s authority, and is intended by its own operation to confer grace on the sick person, to work for his spiritual benefit.

Historical Early Church Fathers On Extreme Unction:

APA citation. Toner, P. (1909). Extreme Unction. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved June 30, 2019 from New Advent:

It is a perfectly valid defense of the Tridentine doctrine on extreme unction to show that St. James permanently prescribed the rite of unction in terms that imply its strictly sacramental efficacy; that the Church for several centuries simply went on practicing the rite and believing in its efficacy as taught by the Apostle, without feeling the need of a more definitely formulated doctrine than is expressed in the text of his Epistle; and that finally, when this need had arisen, the Church, in the exercise of her infallible authority, did define for all time the true meaning and proper efficacy of the Jacobean prayer-unction. It is well to keep this principle in mind in discussing the witness of the early ages, though as a matter of fact the evidence, as will be seen, proves more than we are under any obligation to prove. The truth is that the relation of the Jacobean rite to penance is very obscurely stated by Origen; but, whatever may have been his views of that relation, he evidently means to speak of the whole rite, unction and all, and to assert that it is performed as a means of remitting sin for the sick. If it be held on the obscurity of the connection that he absolutely identifies the Jacobean rite with penance, the only logical conclusion would be that he considered the unction to be a necessary part of penance for the sick. But it is much more reasonable and more in keeping with what we know of the penitential discipline of the period–Christian sinners were admitted to canonical penance only once–to suppose that Origen looked upon the rite of unction as a supplement to penance, intended for the sick or dying who either had never undergone canonical penance, or after penance might have contracted new sins, or who, owing to their “hard and laborious” course of satisfaction being cut short by sickness, might be considered to need just such a complement to absolution, this complement itself being independently efficacious to remit sins or complete their remission by removal of their effects. This would fairly account for the confused grouping together of both ways of remission in the text, and it is a Catholic interpretation in keeping with the conditions of that age and with later and clearer teaching. It is interesting to observe that John Cassian, writing nearly two centuries later, and probably with this very text of Origen before him, gives similar enumeration of means for obtaining remission of sins, and in this enumeration the Jacobean rite is given an independent place (Collat., XX, in P.L., XLIX, 1161).

Origen’s contemporary, Tertullian, in upbraiding heretics for neglecting the distinction between clergy and laity and allowing even women “to teach, to dispute, to perform exorcisms, to undertake cures, perhaps even to baptize” (De Præscript., c. xli, in P.L., II, 262), probably refers in the italicized clause to the use of the Jacobean rite; for he did not consider charismatic healing, even with oil, to be the proper or exclusive function of the clergy (see To Scapula 4). If this be so, Tertullian is a witness to the general use of the rite and to the belief that its administration was reserved to the priests. (Serapion was Bishop of Thmuis in the Nile Delta and the friend of St. Athanasius.) The seventeenth prayer is a lengthy form for consecrating the oil of the sick, in the course of which God is besought to bestow upon the oil a supernatural efficacy “for good grace and remission of sins, for a medicine of life and salvation, for health and soundness of soul, body, spirit, for perfect strengthening”. Here we have not only the recognition in plain terms of spiritual effects from the unction but the special mention of grace and the remission of sins.

In St. Augustine’s “Speculum de Scripturâ” (an. 427); in P.L., XXXIV, 887-1040),

which is made up almost entirely of Scriptural texts, without comment by the compiler, and is intended as a handy manual of Christian piety, doctrinal and practical, the injunction of St. James regarding the prayer-unction of the sick is quoted. This shows that the rite was a commonplace in the Christian practice of that age; and we are told by Possidius, in his “Life of Augustine” (c. xxvii, in P.L., XXXII, 56), that the saint himself “followed the rule laid down by the Apostle that he should visit only orphans and widows in their tribulation (James 1:27), and that if he happened to be asked by the sick to pray to the Lord for them and impose hands on them, he did so without delay”. We have seen Origen refer to the Jacobean rite as an “imposition of hands”, and this title survived to a very late period in the Church of St. Ambrose, who was himself an ardent student of Origen and from whom St. Augustine very likely borrowed it (see Magistretti, “Manuale Ambrosianum ex Codice sæc. XI”, etc., 1905, vol. I, p. 79 sq., 94 sq., 147 sq., where three different Ordines of the eleventh and thirteenth centuries have as title for the office of extreme unction, impositio manuum super infirmum). It is fair, then, to conclude from the biographer’s statement that, when called upon to do so, St. Augustine himself used to administer the Jacobean unction to the sick. This would be exactly on the lines laid down by Augustine’s contemporary, Pope Innocent I (see below). St. Ambrose himself, writing against the Novatians (De Poenit., VIII, in P.L., XVI, 477), asks: “Why therefore do you lay on hands and believe it to be an effect of the blessing [benedictionis opus] if any of the sick happen to recover?. . .Why do you baptize, if sins cannot be remitted by men?” The coupling of this laying-on of hands with baptism and the use of both as arguments in favor of penance, shows that there is question not of mere charismatic healing by a simple blessing, but of a rite which, like baptism, was in regular use among the Novatians, and which can only have been the unction of St. James. St. Athanasius, in his encyclical letter of 341 (P.G., XXV, 234), complaining of the evils to religion caused by the intrusion of the Arian Bishop Gregory, mentions among other abuses that many catechumens were left to die without baptism and that many sick and dying Christians had to choose the hard alternative of being deprived of priestly ministrations–“which they considered a more terrible calamity than the disease itself”–rather than allow “the hands of the Arians to be laid on their heads”. Here again we are justified in seeing a reference to extreme unction as an ordinary Christian practice, and a proof of the value which the faithful attached to the rite. Cassiodorus (d. about 570) thus paraphrases the injunction of St. James (Complexiones in Epp. Apostolorum, in P.L., LXX, 1380): “a priest is to be called in, who by the prayer of faith [oratione fidei] and the unction of the holy oil which he imparts will save him who is afflicted [by a serious injury or by sickness].”


Please be advised: those of you that read this Blog. Do not allow or permit others “to lay their hands (imposition of hands)” upon you as a Blessing, unless those hands are consecrated to the Lord. Such is an abandonment of the God’s Law, Natural Law. IF you do not have AUTHORITY over that person DO NOT do this, or allow it to be done to you. Many ignorant charismatics or evangelicals break this law and open themselves up to (often) serious spiritual harm. Take the advice of the early Christians ( as noted above), Only allow a Catholic Bishop or Priest to “Lay hands” in prayer. Parent with their children is an exception. Thank you very much!

Mention of the remission of sins as an effect of the Jacobean rite is also fairly frequent. It is coupled with bodily healing by St. Cæsarius in the passage just referred to: the sick person will “receive both health of body and remission of sins, for the Holy Ghost has given this promise through James”. We have mentioned the witness of John Cassian, and the witness of his master, St. Chrysostom, may be given here. In his work “On the Priesthood” (III, vi, in P.G., XLVIII, 644) St. Chrysostom proves the dignity of the priesthood by showing, among other arguments, that the priests by their spiritual ministry do more for us than our own parents can do. Whereas our parents only beget our bodies, which they cannot save from death and disease, the priests regenerate our souls in baptism and have power, moreover, to remit post-baptismal sins; a power which St. Chrysostom proves by quoting the text of St. James. This passage, like that of Origen discussed above, has given rise to no little controversy, and it is claimed by Mr. Puller (op. cit., pp. 45 sqq.) as a proof that St. Chrysostom, like Origen, understood St. James as he (Mr. Puller) does. But if this were so it would still be true that only clinical penance is referred to, for it is only of the sick that St. James can be understood to speak; and the main point of Mr. Puller’s argument, viz., that it is inconceivable that St. Chrysostom should pass over the Sacrament of Penance in such a context, would have lost hardly any of its force. We know very little, except by way of inference and assumption, about the practice of clinical penance in that age; but we are well acquainted with canonical penance as administered to those in good health, and it is to this obviously we should expect the saint to refer, if he were bound to speak of that sacrament at all. Mr. Puller is probably aware how very difficult it would be to prove that St. Chrysostom anywhere in his voluminous writings teaches clearly and indisputably the necessity of confessing to a priest: in other words, that he recognizes the Sacrament of Penance as Mr. Puller recognizes it; and in view of this general obscurity on a point of fundamental importance it is not at all so strange that penance should be passed over here. We do not pretend to be able to enter into St. Chrysostom’s mind, but assuming that he recognized both penance and unction to be efficacious for the remission of post-baptismal sins–and the text before us plainly states this in regard to the unction–we may perhaps find in the greater affinity of unction with baptism, and in the particular points of contrast he is developing, a reason why unction rather than penance is appealed to. Regeneration by water in baptism is opposed to parental generation, and saving by oil from spiritual disease and eternal death to the inability of parents to save their children from bodily disease and death. St. Chrysostom might have added several other points of contrast, but he confines himself in this context to these two; and supposing, as one ought in all candor to suppose, that he understood the text of St. James as we do, in its obvious and natural sense, it is evident that the prayer-unction, so much more akin to baptism in the simplicity of its ritual character and so naturally suggested by the mention of sickness and death, supplied a much apter illustration of the priestly power of remitting post-baptismal sins than the judicial process of penance. And a single illustrative example was all that the context required.

In the passage from John Mandakuni, referred to above, the prayer-unction is repeatedly described as “the gift of grace”, “the grace of God”, Divinely instituted and prescribed, and which cannot be neglected and despised without incurring “the curse of the Apostles”; language which it is difficult to understand unless we suppose the Armenian patriarch to have reckoned the unction among the most sacred of Christian rites, or, in other words, regarded it as being what we describe as a sacrament in the strict sense (cf. Kern, op. cit., pp. 46, 47).

The statutes attributed to St. Sonnatius, Archbishop of Reims (about 600-631), and which are certainly anterior to the ninth century, direct (no. 15) that “extreme unction is to be brought to the sick person who asks for it”, and “that the pastor himself is to visit him often, animating and duly preparing him for future glory” (P.L., LXXX, 445; cf. Hefele, Conciliengesch., III, 77). The fourth of the canons promulgated (about 745) by St. Boniface, the Apostle of Germany (see Hefele, III, 580 sq.), forbids priests to go on a journey “without the chrism, and the blessed oil, and the Eucharist”, so that in any emergency they may be ready to offer their ministrations; and the twenty-ninth orders all priests to have the oil of the sick always with them and to warn the sick faithful to apply for the unction (P.L., LXXXIX, 821 sq.). In the “Excerptiones” of Egbert, Archbishop of York (732-766), the unction is mentioned between penance and the Eucharist, and ordered to be diligently administered (P.L., LXXXIX, 382). But no writer of this period treats of the unction so fully as, and none more undeniably regards it as a true sacrament in the strict sense that, Theodulf, Bishop of Orléans, and with him we will conclude our list of witnesses. A long section of his second Capitulare, published in 789, is taken up with the subject (P.L., CV, 220 sq.): “Priests are also to be admonished regarding the unction of the sick, and penance and the Viaticum, lest anyone should die without the Viaticum.” Penance is to be given first, and then, “if the sickness allow it,” the patient is to be carried to the church, where the unction and Holy Communion are to be given. Theodulf describes the unction in detail, ordering fifteen, or three times five, crosses to be made with the oil to symbolize the Trinity and the five senses, but noting at the same time that the practice varies as to the number of anointings and the parts anointed. He quotes with approval the form used by the Greeks while anointing, in which remission of sins is expressly mentioned; and so clearly is the unction in his view intended as a preparation for death that he directs the sick person after receiving it to commend his soul into the hands of God and bid farewell to the living. He enjoins the unction of sick children also on the ground that it sometimes cures them, and that penance is (often) necessary for them. Theodulf’s teaching is so clear and definite that some Protestant controversialists recognize him as the originator in the West of the teaching which, as they claim, transformed the Jacobean rite into a sacrament. But from all that precedes it is abundantly clear that no such transformation occurred. Some previous writers, as we have seen, had explicitly taught and many had implied the substance of Theodulf’s doctrine, to which a still more definite expression was later to be given. The Scholastic and Tridentine doctrine is the only goal to which patristic and medieval teaching could logically have led.

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