When I called the office of a Eugene parish to request extreme unction for my husband, John, the secretary didn’t know what I was talking about. Greatly surprised, I blurted: “You must be very young!” Then, I thought to say, “Anointing of the sick. I think my husband should have this.”

Terms change, even in the longest established institution in the world, the Catholic Church. But the truths of the sacraments don’t change.

John is 94 and he’s been in a wheelchair for 18 years now. He’s very tired. The key words when deciding on anointing are “begins to be in danger,” as contrasted with “at the point of death.”

First Father Ron Nelson offered John the sacrament of penance. John readily accepted and I whispered: “He may need some guidance.” It had been a long time since John’s last confession and I always wondered if he’d learned the memorized format.

Afterward, we went up to the tabernacle to receive the holy Eucharist.

I readily joined in with the Our Father and the prayer responses as Father Ron administered the last rites by anointing John’s forehead and hands with blessed oil. “Through this holy anointing and his most loving mercy, may the Lord assist you by the grace of the Holy Spirit, so that freed from your sins, he may save you and in his goodness raise you up.”

Now I’m wondering if John ever received the sacrament of confirmation to be a “soldier of Christ.” I found this can be received at the end of life, too, (Canon 891). Requirements are: “the use of reason, (the person must) be suitably instructed, properly disposed, and able to renew the baptismal promises” (Canon 889).

Canon law goes on to say, “It should always be kept in mind that Confirmation provides a person with a higher state of grace on earth and, as a result, a higher state of glory in eternity.”

Reasons enough to look into confirmation for John, my loving husband of 34 years.

R. Ann Sumich