The Sacraments of Penance and the Anointing of the Sick are the two Sacraments of Healing that were instituted by Christ to strengthen us in our physical and spiritual weakness. Any Catholic whose health is in a critical state can receive this sacrament more than once, on such occasions such as grave illnesses or serious operations.
In a unique way, this sacrament unites those who are suffering with the sufferings of Jesus, who also experienced fear and pain during His time on earth. This profound experience sometimes brings physical healing to those who are gravely ill. Moreover, celebrating this sacrament unifies the communion of the saints in interceding for the sick person, “contribut(ing) to the sanctification of the Church and to the good of all men for whom the Church suffers and offers herself through Christ to God the Father.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1522)
“The Anointing of the Sick ‘is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death. Hence, as soon as anyone of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for him to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived.’ If a sick person who received this anointing recovers his health, he can in the case of another grave illness receive this sacrament again. If during the same illness the person’s condition becomes more serious, the sacrament may be repeated. It is fitting to receive the Anointing of the Sick just prior to a serious operation. The same holds for the elderly whose frailty becomes more pronounced.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1514-1515].
The Anointing of the Sick was traditionally referred to as Extreme Unction or Last Rites, perhaps giving the illusion that the sacrament is meant only for those who are at the point of death.
“In addition to the Anointing of the Sick, the Church offers those who are about to leave this life the Eucharist as viaticum. Communion in the body and blood of Christ, received at this moment of ‘passing over’ to the Father, has a particular significance and importance. It is the seed of eternal life and the power of resurrection, according to the words of the Lord: ‘He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.’ The sacrament of Christ once dead and now risen, the Eucharist is here the sacrament of passing over from death to life, from this world to the Father.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1524).