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Through the Sacrament of Anointing the Sick the priest performs a special prayer service on the person who is ill, he reads gospel and lays hands, so that the afflicted person, through faith, with the grace of the Holy Spirit may get well, be strengthened and become cured from both physical and spiritual afflictions and diseases. The main goal of this sacrament is the cleansing of the sins of the despaired person by requiring him to participate in confession that leads to repentance, by strengthening his faith through filling his soul with the divine hope and love.
The person who is empowered with prayers and the word of God truly receives the Holy Spirit both spiritually and physically, becoming strong and renewed, and in case of death he departs from this earth having the peace of God in his heart.
This sacrament is performed regardless if the ill person is on his deathbed or not.
As other sacraments, the Sacrament of Anointing the Sick is also based on the words, teachings and works of Christ. Jesus gave His disciples the authority "to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness" (Matt. 10:1-2). In the Book of Acts we read how the disciples prayed, placed hands on the sick and healed them (Acts 5:16; 28:8-9).
The apostle James advises his flock saying "Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective" (James 5:14-17).
As the New Testament bears witness, this sacrament is a sign of the care and concern of Jesus and His church for the sick.
After the eighth century, the sacrament became more associated with the dying. This practice of waiting until the person was near death before celebrating this sacrament led to a change in name: final anointing, verjin odzoom. The actual administration of the final anointing today, in the Armenian Church, is reserved for clergyman at the time of burial.