Last rites and dead?

Hi I was wondering can a person receive the last rites if they are dead or if not what can be done ?
Thanks chuck

One has to be alive to receive a sacrament. There are special prayers and blessing that can be said over the deceased in the Rite of Christian Funerals. We always encourage people, when someone in their family is close to death, to call the office and ask for a priest before the person dies. Then it is not necessary to call the priest immediately after the person has died.

no the sacraments are for the living, and cannot avail the dead, although if there is doubt as to whether or not the person has died he should still be anointed. What can be done is to pray for the dead, arrange for Christian burial and Mass said for repose of their soul.

Because it’s not known when the soul actually leaves the body (which is what the Church teaches as death), one can received the Last Rites conditionally similiarly with baptism. If I recall correctly, this is typically up until rigoris mortis sets in. I’m not sure what the case is regarding deaths that are more traumatic and instantaneously deadly.

As Annie posted, no, sacraments have no effect on a dead person, but still, if a person has just recently “died”, he should still probably be anointed if possible, since even though someone may appear dead, their soul may not have left their body, which means they are still actually alive. So in short, if someone is actually dead, it will have no effect, but we have no way of telling when someone actually dies.

What can be done?

Have Masses said for him/her. There are a grouping of 30 Masses known as Gregorian Masses that can be said for 30 consecutive days for a deceased person. This is an awesome gift of grace, and the most powerful way of lessening his sentence in purgatory.

Here is a place where you can request Gregorian Masses or Single Masses.

It is one of many missionary societies of priests that will say Masses for your intention for a donation toward their efforts.

Instantaneous death simply means the body can no longer hold life; the body is not yet dead, there is still life (therefore soul) in the body. That is why human beings have returned from apparent violent death.

IMS, the Church allows half an hour after apparent death for the LR because soul may still be there. However, IANAPJAS.

God Bless and ICXC NIKA.

I came into this situation when my Grandfather died. Since he died he could not receive last rites–that is for the living. What can be done is a prayer can be said for him over his body. We just prayed as a family with the priest.

No, from the point of death one cannot receive the last rites. I have personal experience with this.

Yes, but how do you define death? Death is when the soul leaves the body, and we have no way of ascertaining this. Therefore, someone who appears dead may still have their soul in their body, and therefore, actually alive.

Only the living can receive the Sacraments. The Church does not define any criteria to determine if a person has died; such as no heartbeat or no brain activity. The definition is that the soul has left the body–but of course that cannot be measured. If there is any chance that he might be still living, the priest should (indeed must) give the Last Rites.

Once rigor mortis has set in, the time for Last Rites has long since passed. One general rule I’ve heard is that if the priest arrives within 1 hour of a doctor pronouncing time-of-death, then he should do the Last Rites. This is the standard used by many priests, and the standard taught in many seminary classes; although I cannot say whether or not the Church ever endorsed or requires this standard. It’s just what many priests follow.

Yeah, if it’s a person who’s just died (ie. of illness, in a car accident, etc), I think a priest can still give them the anointing. If they’ve been in a morgue overnight, I really don’t think it would be licit. The Baltimore Catechism used to say that Last Rites was still valid if the person had been dead for less than two hours.

The Last Rites are not a single rite or sacrament. They consist of 1) the Sacrament of Penance, 2) the Sacrament of Anointing the Sick, 3) the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist consisting of Holy Communion given as Viaticum, and 4) the Apostolic Blessing.

The sacraments are for the living. The dead cannot avail themselves of any graces from the sacraments. In cases of doubt a priest may give two of the above: the Sacrament of Anointing the Sick and Apostolic Blessing. If a person appears to be dead they cannot receive Viaticum and they cannot make an aural confession. With regards to the other two it is at the discretion of the priest. If a priest arrives say twenty minutes after a doctor has died he can use his discretion, because we don’t know when the soul leaves the body, and anoint and bless. If a badly decomposed corpse was found in woodlands then the priest most likely wouldn’t as in that case it would be reasonable to assume the soul has departed the body.

The priest can still pronounce absolution even if the person is unable to speak–in fact, the priest should in that case, so long as he has reason to believe that the person would want to be absolved. The only part of the 4 that cannot be done (with regard to what we’re discussing) is Holy Communion.

So I guess the only way to really be sure is the rigor mortis.

Not really. By then it really is too late.

Priests accept the medical determination that the person’s body has died. It’s just that for spiritual reasons, we give it just a little more time after that “just in case.”

It’s important to remember that priests do not, again do not, anoint dead bodies–only those whom are thought “just maybe” to be still alive.

Does that only apply when a person is in extremis? I ask because I believed, perhaps erroneously, that one has to confess to receive absolution.

The old Roman Ritual explicitly stated:

If there is a doubt as to whether the sick person has attained the age of discretion, or is really in danger of death, or is already dead this sacrament must be administered conditionally.

The apostolic blessing with plenary indulgence at the hour of death should be imparted, following the reception of the last sacraments, to those who desire it while still rational and conscious. It may likewise be granted to anyone who has given any indication of such desire, or who has seemed contrite before becoming unconscious or irrational.

I don’t have a copy of the current Rite around me at the moment (too lazy to go to my car to get it) but the general principles still apply…

This is one of those “both yes and no” s.

On the one hand, a priest is only permitted to “skip” the rest of the sacrament of Confession when there’s a compelling reason. If the person is at the point of death and cannot speak, this is one of those reasons.

On the other hand, remember that absolution is a juridic act of the Church. So long as the priest pronounces the minimum words for the Sacrament, “I absolve you…” (which applies to either the ordinary or extraordinary form, because they are the same), then the juridic act of absolution occurs. If it’s not necessary to do so, it would be illicit (on the part of the priest), but still valid.

I really wanted to call attention to this post.

I lost both of my parents this year. Each received Anointing within hours of death; Communion within days of death and Confession within weeks. :thumbsup:

Call the priest when the doctor or nurse tells you that it doesn’t look good. Ask them if it is time to call the priest. They know. They will tell you, yes or no. Please, please call.