Reception of Sacraments by a Person in Danger of Death

Christian Initiation for the Dying

Baptism 1

In the case of a person who is at the point of death, or in imminent danger of death, the minister, omitting all other ceremonies, pours water (not necessarily blessed, but real and natural water) on the head of the person, while saying:

N., I baptize you in the name of the Father, +

The minister pours water the first time.

and of the Son, +

The minister pours water the second time.

and of the Holy Spirit. +

The minister pours water the third time. It is desirable that should be one or two witnesses. If able to do this, an adult candidate is required to make a profession of faith, such as the Apostles' Creed, before the Baptism.


When circumstances permit, the entire rite is followed. In case of urgent necessity, the minister of Confirmation lays his hands upon the sick person, as he says:

All-powerful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
by water and the Holy Spirit
you freed your son (daughter) from sin
and gave him (her) new life.

Send your Holy Spirit
upon him (her) to be his (her) Helper and Guide.
Give him (her) the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of right judgment and courage,
the spirit of knowledge and reverence.
Fill him (her) with the spirit of wonder
and awe in your presence.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

Then the minister dips his right thumb in the chrism and with it makes the Sign of the Cross on the forehead of the one to be confirmed, as he says:

N., be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit. +

The newly confirmed responds, if able:   Amen.

Other parts of the preparatory and concluding rites [from the Rite of Confirmation] may be added in individual cases, depending on the circumstances.

In case of extreme necessity, it is sufficient that the anointing be done with the sacramental form:

N., be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit. +

Sacramental Rites for Those Baptized

Sacramental Absolution3

When pastoral need dictates, the priest may omit or shorten some parts of the rite but must always retain in their entirety the penitent's confession of sins and acceptance of the act of penance, the invitation to contrition, and the formularies of absolution and dismissal. In [the case of] imminent danger of death, it is sufficient for the priest to say the essential words of the form of absolution, namely:

I absolve you from your sins
in the name of the Father, and of the Son, +
and of the Holy Spirit.

The penitent answers:   Amen.

Absolution of Censures4

The [external] form of absolution is not to be changed when a priest, in keeping with the provision of law, absolves a properly disposed penitent within the sacramental forum [sacrament of Reconciliation; Confession] from a censure latæ sententiæ. It is enough that the confessor [when giving the sacramental absolution] intends to absolve also from censures. When a priest, in accordance with the law, absolves a penitent from such a censure outside the sacrament of Reconciliation, he uses the following formula:

By the power granted to me, I absolve you from the bond of excommunication (or suspension or interdict). In the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit.

The penitent answers:  Amen.

Dispensation from Irregularity5

When, in accordance with the law, a priest dispenses a penitent from an irregularity, either during sacramental Confession, after absolution has been given, or outside the sacrament of Reconciliation, he says:

By the power granted to me, I dispense you from the irregularity which you have incurred. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit.

The penitent answers:  Amen.

Anointing of the Sick6

When a priest has been called to attend a person who is already dead, he is not to administer the sacrament of Anointing. Instead, he should pray for the dead person, asking that God forgive his or her sins and graciously receive him or her into the kingdom.

If the priest has reason to believe that the person is still living, he anoints him or her.

First he anoints the forehead, saying:

Through this holy anointing,
may the Lord in his love and mercy help you
with the grace of the Holy Spirit. 
R. Amen.

Then he anoints the hands, saying:

May the Lord who frees you from sin
save you and raise you up.
R. Amen.

The sacramental form is said only once, for the anointing of the forehead and hands, and is not repeated.

Apostolic Pardon7

At the conclusion of the sacrament of Penance or the penitential rite, the priest may give the Apostolic pardon for the dying, with plenary indulgence, using one of these forms:

Through the holy mysteries of our redemption,
may almighty God release you from all punishments in this life and in the life to come.

May he open to you the gates of paradise
and welcome you to everlasting joy.
R. Amen.


By the authority which the Apostolic See has given me,
I grant you a full pardon and the remission
of all your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit.
R. Amen.

1. Cf. The Rites of the Catholic Church (=RCC), Rite of Baptism for Children, 21.1, 160, 164; Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, 373. New York: Pueblo Publishing Co., 1990.
2. Cf. RCC, Rite of Confirmation, 53, 54, and 56.
3. Cf. RCC, Rite of Penance, 21 and 44.
4. Cf. RCC, Rite of Penance, Appendix I, 1-2.
5. Cf. RCC, Rite of Penance, Appendix I, 1-2.
6. Cf. Pastoral Care of the Sick (=PCS), 124, 263-264, New York:Catholic Book Publishing, 1983. The sacrament is to be conferred upon sick persons who requested it at least implicitly when they were in control of their faculties, or when there is a doubt whether the person is dead. Cf. Codex Iuris Canonici, 1005-1006.
7. PCS, 201.

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December 22, 2014

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Mt 21:23-27


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