You may have a lot of questions about how to plan, what to say, and how to act when a loved one is dying. You may feel that it is necessary to have a priest give the last rites to your dying loved one.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Is There a Cost for Last Rites?
- What About Leaving a Tip for Last RItes?
- 5 Other Ways You Can Say Thanks to Your Priest or Parish
You may have never been a part of this process before and may wonder, “Do you pay priests for last rights?” After all, the priest is doing a really important service when he performs the sacrament. Let us help you with this question. We’ll discuss other types of deathbed etiquette as well.
Is There a Cost for Last Rites?
According to the Code of Canon Law, Canon 848 says, “The minister is to seek nothing for the administration of the sacraments beyond the offerings defined by competent authority, always taking care that the needy are not deprived of the assistance of the sacraments because of poverty.”
This means that the official stance of the Catholic Church is that there is no cost to have last rites given to your loved one. A quick look at Catholic forums confirms this practice in the U.S.
This policy is based on the teachings found in the Bible. Matthew 10:8 says, “Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”
The Old Testament book of Isaiah says, “All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat. Come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk!”
What About Leaving a Tip for Last Rites?
Priests do not receive tips. You may give them a donation, gift offering, or stipend. This donation is not mandatory.
Even though you are not required to make a donation to receive the sacraments, 2 Corinthians 9 says, “God loves a cheerful giver.”
Even though you are not required to provide a donation, you may consider donating enough to cover the costs of the visit.
5 Other Ways You Can Say Thanks to Your Priest or Parish
Words may not be adequate to express the appreciation you may feel for your parish priest. It’s stressful and emotionally draining to sit at the deathbed of the one you love. Having a priest visit to give the last rites for your loved one may give all involved a sense of peace.
How do you say thanks to someone for such a profound gift? Here are some ways you can give thanks.
1. Donate to the parish
One of the most common methods of expressing gratitude is to donate to the parish. Again, this is not a requirement and there is no set amount.
2. Pray for your priest
Priests appreciate the prayers of their congregants. You may search online for the appropriate prayers to say for members of the clergy. It is worth noting that St. John Vianney is the patron saint of priests.
3. Provide a meal
Everyone needs to eat. You may consider providing a meal for a priest who has given last rites to your loved one. This does not have to happen immediately.
In fact, if your loved one passes, it would be appropriate to wait until weeks after the funeral before you offer food.
4. Volunteer to help
Once you are able to, consider volunteering at your local parish to thank your priest for his help during your difficult time.
You don’t need to draw special attention to the fact that you’re volunteering. Your priest may or may not realize that you are doing so to thank him for giving the last rites to your loved one. Whether he realizes this or not does not matter.
5. Write a note
We all like to be thanked when we perform a kind act for others. Write a thank you note to your priest to express the appreciation you feel.
After a loved one passes, some families gather together to write thank you notes to those who provided food, purchased flowers, or donated to a memorial fund. Write a thank-you note to your priest during this time and sign it “from the family of [the deceased].”
You probably have a lot of things to thank your priest for, especially if you had a full Catholic funeral for your loved one. He may have been praying for your loved one for months or years. He may have counseled you after your loss.
And, of course, your priest may have spent hours preparing for your loved one’s funeral. Thanking your priest for giving the last rites to your dying family member may be only one of many tasks you need to do to express appreciation.
Finding Peace at the End
As you sit with your loved one who is dying, think about what you can do and say to make your loved one’s last moments on earth as calm and peaceful as possible. As you hold your loved one’s hand, you may want to share stories of special memories you experienced together. You may want to promise your loved one that you’ll take care of unfinished business or promise to offer support to other members of the family.
If the time is right, you may want to ask your loved one about his or her final wishes. You may ask if she has a preference for where she would like to be buried. Or you may ask him where he would prefer his ashes to be scattered.
These may be difficult conversations for you, but you’ll feel better if you know your loved one’s specific desires, no matter what they are.
- “Code of Canon Law.” The Vatican. www.vatican.va/archive/cod-iuris-canonici/eng/documents/cic_lib4-cann834-878_en.html
- The Bible. www.bible.com/