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Reflections on Catholic Faith - September 2010

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September 27, 2010

Is healing dead in our times? Once again: Is physical, spiritual or emotional healing dead in our times? Another question is that you can’t help but wonder why healing seemed everyday and in many of the stories of Jesus and in the lives of the saints, and yet here we sit with our cancers and our arthritis and our addictions and our emotional distress -- but we’ve come to believe or led to believe that if we pray for healing we are presumptuous -- it’s like we’re pretending to be like the saints. Or we’re testing God.

No so according to this wonderful book by Doctor Francis MacNutt. The book is called Healing published by Ave Maria Press and it’s now in this twenty second edition.

Francis MacNutt became involved in spiritual, emotional and physical healing dating back to the 1970’s. In his book, he says, “Since then, I have seen many people healed -- especially when I have prayed with a team or in a loving community.” And while MacNutt traveled so much he couldn’t keep extensive records, he estimates that more than half of those they pray for have been healed (or are notably improved) of physical sickness and about three fourths are healed of emotional or spiritual problems. Dr. MacNutt says that he thinks that the healing ministry should be just this way: an ordinary, normal part of our Christian lives.

Let me share a short experience from Florida. We had a seemingly quite holy and prayerful pastor there. And he struggled with this very issue of possibly damaging the faith of his flock if he prayed over them for healing and they weren’t healed. He said that the Lord put this on Father’s heart most strongly: “It isn’t your business whether they are healed or not. It’s my business. Your business is to be their priest and to pray for them.” And so that’s what he started doing...

We ought to be the same way.... I would welcome if three or five or eight of us met once a month to pray over those who are ill or need prayer ministry for healing. We ought not to worry whether someone is made better through our effort... we should be convinced and convicted that as Christians, praying over one another is as sound as the mandate we heard in today’s Gospel. And remember -- the mandate for prayer and healing isn’t just to  bishops... it’s not just priests... it’s for Christians.... all of us..

Now I leave you with one final experience -- something recent in my life. When I was away at the priest/deacon conference and retreat at Franciscan University in Ohio, I happened to sit with a fellow in the dining hall several times. He was likable, personable and willing to share and talk. The first thing I found out was that he is a doctor in Bridge, Texas. He is a doctor of internal medicine -- and has been for thirteen years.

Years ago -- his wife and son were both injured in a tragic automobile accident. The son had a terrible brain injury -- and for quite a while, all the boy could do was mumble vowels... A.... E... U.... no words... no intelligible communication. The boy’s father is named Dr. Chris Penning -- and Chris went to all sorts of other medical professionals to try to find help for his brain-damaged son. Months later, Chris was told by a priest to pray for healing over his son. Chris said he was not in very good shape spiritually -- but he said he made the best confession of his life... and he and his wife went home and that night, they prayed over their brain-damaged son while he was sleeping. The next morning, Chris’ son woke up and he was completely cured. It was that healing through prayer that led Chris to wonder if God was calling him to be more than a medical doctor. It was that healing that led Chris to become a deacon.  And if you’d like to hear that testimony of Doctor Chris telling of this experience, I have it on a CD -- recorded from our Catholic Vitamins program.

I am the least qualified to pray over anyone... but I believe God is capable of all things through prayer rather than through any actions of mine. And if you believe that -- let us come together and pray for healing for any and all who might ask it of us.

Reading 1
Prv 30:5-9
Every word of God is tested;
he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
Add nothing to his words,
lest he reprove you, and you will be exposed as a deceiver.
Two things I ask of you,
deny them not to me before I die:
Put falsehood and lying far from me,
give me neither poverty nor riches;
provide me only with the food I need;
Lest, being full, I deny you,
saying, "Who is the LORD?"
Or, being in want, I steal,
and profane the name of my God.

Ps 119:29, 72, 89, 101, 104, 163
Responsorial Psalm
R. (105) Your word, O Lord, is a lamp for my feet.
Remove from me the way of falsehood,
and favor me with your law.
R. Your word, O Lord, is a lamp for my feet.
The law of your mouth is to me more precious
than thousands of gold and silver pieces.
R. Your word, O Lord, is a lamp for my feet.
Your word, O LORD, endures forever;
it is firm as the heavens.
R. Your word, O Lord, is a lamp for my feet.
From every evil way I withhold my feet,
that I may keep your words.
R. Your word, O Lord, is a lamp for my feet.
Through your precepts I gain discernment;
therefore I hate every false way.
R. Your word, O Lord, is a lamp for my feet.
Falsehood I hate and abhor;
your law I love.
R. Your word, O Lord, is a lamp for my feet.

Lk 9:1-6

Jesus summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He said to them, "Take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, and let no one take a second tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there. And as for those who do not welcome you, when you leave that town, shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them." Then they set out and went from village to village proclaiming the Good News and curing diseases everywhere.

September 8, 2010

Today we celebrate the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary.... and people in leadership in the Church -- many church ‘elders’ and holy leaders or educated people have convinced me that the way to Jesus is through a love and devotion to His Mother.... And now -- in her honor ... and in hoping to draw closer to Jesus -- I’d like to share a June column by Archbishop Timothy Dolan...

Too Simple and Pious? I’ll Take That Compliment
by Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan

I love getting mail, and I get a lot of it. The only letters (or e-mails) I do not look at are the anonymous ones, which don’t even get to me, or those that I find rude and obnoxious, which I then stop reading. I even enjoy letters thoughtfully offering criticism, and I welcome them.

Recently I got such a communication. He told me he thought my columns in Catholic New York diocese paper were overly pious, and way too simple. I wrote him back to thank him for reading the column. I told him I thought Mom was the only one who ever did! — and for the compliment!

He certainly did not intend his criticism as a compliment. But I sure took it as one! To claim my column to be too pious and simple is, for me, a feather in my biretta. Well, he’s not going to be popping champagne corks over this week’s column either, I’m afraid. Read on…

June, traditionally, is dedicated in our Catholic calendar to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Friday after the Feast of Corpus Christi — this year  June 11 –  [was] the Feast of the Sacred Heart, always in June. Since childhood, I’ve had a strong devotion to Jesus under this title.

The heart symbolizes love, mercy, tenderness, compassion. Our God has a heart! His Sacred Heart is literally on fire with those noble sentiments, and I find that very consoling.

Two very practical ways to bond with the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

One is the morning offering. Easy but profound: early each day, right after getting out of bed, dedicate the day to Jesus, and unite all your prayers, works, words, thoughts and trials to His Sacred Heart.

Here’s what I have prayed every morning since I made my first Communion: All for Thee, Most Sacred Heart of Jesus!

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in Thee!
Sacred Heart of Jesus, I believe in your love for me!
Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner!
Sacred Heart of Jesus, Thy Kingdom come!

My Dad, the first to admit he was far from a saint, had that morning offering taped to the mirror on the medicine cabinet in the bathroom. I guess he prayed it while he shaved.

Try it — you won’t regret it.

Second: First Fridays.

When Jesus revealed His love and mercy by appearing to St. Margaret Mary and showing her His Sacred Heart, He invited her to encourage people to approach the sacrament of penance, and attend Mass on the first Friday of every month.

We haven’t promoted that devotion for decades. Some have even discouraged and mocked it.

Yet, wherever I’ve been — St. Louis, D.C., Baltimore, Rome, Kansas City, Milwaukee and now here in New York — folks still come. You see an uptick in Mass attendance and confession every First Friday. Bravo! (At St. Patrick’s Cathedral we also have all-day Eucharistic adoration.)

You looking for a booster shot to a listless, weary spiritual life?

Try the First Fridays. It’s worked for centuries.

Sorry for the piety and simplicity. But, it worked for my Grandma; it worked for my Dad; it’s worked for me.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome, for I will refresh you, for I am gentle and humble of heart.”

The morning offering and first Fridays. Nothing fancy, folks. Just down-home holiness of life.

© 2006 - Deacon Tom Online

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