The BEA (BA) airliner Flight 548 had just taken off from London Heathrow, destination Brussels.
On board were 118 passengers and crew.
|The last flight of BEA 548|
Within minutes it had crashed and was a smouldering wreck, miraculously, it had missed the built up Thames side town of Staines and landed in a field on the edge of town.
Now, an impossible link to EF Pastor Emeritus and his excellent post on the Holy Father's instruction to priests with regard to the Sacrament of the Sick.
In brief Pope Benedict has said that:
"Anointing of the sick is a sacrament that deserves “greater consideration” today because of the spiritual benefits to minister and recipient".
And much more besides.
But what takes my attention is EFP's remark that "Pope Benedict noted that the sacrament formerly known as Extreme Unction, may be administered in various human situations connected with illness, and not only when a person is at the end of his or her life".
Of course, I am not taking issue with the Holy Father or with EFP for that matter.
What concerns me a little is the phrase "formerly known as Extreme Unction".
I like to still call it that. Why not?
The sacrament has not changed, the title has and I am not overly certain that the modern title does the sacrament justice.
Now...please use all your forebearance and come back with me to Staines on the 18th June 1972. I was newly married and living in?
You are right! Staines!
Not that we heard the crash. But I do remember the newsreel footage of the day showing local priests who had come running (literally) to the scene and who administered, not the sacrament of the sick (nearly all of the 118 on board were dead and the one or two that were still alive, died within a few minutes of crashing).
No - the priests were administering Extreme Unction, the Last Rites.
And a most moving sight it was, watching them move slowly and purposefully from dead body to dead body. You may see one of them on the video clip below, at 1:47
That is what our priests do and it is a great and wonderful act of mercy.