This sacrament, along with Reconciliation, are the two sacraments of healing. The apostles James teaches clearly what people are to do if they are ill. He says, "is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven." (James 5:14 - 15)
The Catechism of the Catholic Church has beautiful words about Jesus' compassion of the suffering and sick. It says, "Christ's compassion toward the sick and his many healings of every kind of infirmity are a resplendent sign that 'God has visited his people' and that the Kingdom of God is close at hand. Jesus has the power not only to heal, but also to forgive sins; he has come to heal the whole man, soul and body; he is the physician the sick have need of. His compassion toward all who suffer goes so far that he identifies himself with them: 'I was sick and you visited me.' His preferential love for the sick has not ceased through the centuries to draw the very special attention of Christians toward all those who suffer in body and soul. It is the source of tireless efforts to comfort them." [CCC 1503]
Jesus Christ wished to continue His message of healing throughout time by means of his Church. "By the sacred anointing of the sick and the prayer of the priests the whole Church commends those who are ill to the suffering and glorified Lord, that he may raise them up and save them. And indeed she exhorts them to contribute to the good of the People of God by freely uniting themselves to the Passion and death of Christ." [CCC 1499]
Is there any value in suffering?
When someone encourages another person who is in some kind of pain to "offer it up", they are reminding them to do what the CCC said in the previous quotation: "to contribute to the good of the People of God by freely uniting themselves to the Passion and death of Christ." This is known as "redemptive suffering". That means that our sufferings, united to Jesus', has great meaning and value. We are able to co-operate in Christ's mission of salvation by offering up our pain for the good of our own souls and those of all sinners everywhere. Indeed, St. Paul said this very thing about himself: "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for you sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church." (Col 1:24) This gives us a whole new perspective on how we can face our trials, pain, and suffering. Offer them up in prayer to Jesus for the salvation of souls!
Where can I get more information?
For more information about the Sacrament of Anointing and redemptive suffering you can read the relevant section in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. There is also a brief article from Catholic Answers defending and explaining it from Scripture and history that you may enjoy.
If you are sick and you would like to be anointed, please contact Fr. Paul at the parish office.