An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

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Last Rites

Sacramental ministry to a dying Christian, which may include confession and absolution, laying on of hands, anointing (extreme unction), and communion. The dying received communion as viaticum, or sustenance for a journey, in accordance with ancient custom. The BCP provides forms for the Reconciliation of a Penitent (pp. 447-452), an order for Ministration to the Sick that includes the ministry of the word, laying on of hands and anointing, and Holy Communion (pp. 453-457). If communion is administered from the reserved sacrament, the form for Communion under Special Circumstances (pp. 396-399) is used. The BCP also provides a form for Ministration at the Time of Death, which includes a Litany at the Time of Death and prayers for a vigil (pp. 462-467). Prayers of commendation for the departed have been dated from the fourth century.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.