I have said previously on this blog that Jesus still heals today….. but is this really so? There are a few healings associated with religious shrines, or connected to various saints, but that is something we do not get to hear about very often. In the Catholic church, healing services are held more frequently these days than when I was a child and usually include the priest going round and giving the ‘Sacrament of the sick’. Sometimes, you have to state that you are really sick to receive this. Yet, do we not all need healing in some way? I knew of a priest (now a very old man’) who held healing services, but I rather got the idea that he was tolerated by the Catholic church, rather than embraced by it.
In Pentecostal churches, healings apparently occur more often and are associated with the ‘Gifts of the Spirit’ such as ‘Speaking in tongues’ etc. This has spread over into the Catholic church more these days, with the Charismatics doing much the same as the Pentecostals, including laying claim to many healings and also ‘Speaking in tongues’. I do not really know what to think about all this…….. I have heard Catholics who are very, very against the Charismatic movement. It is often hard to know what to beieve. One thing is sure though….. there is a hunger for both spiritual and physical healing. People read in the bible how Jesus told the apostles to carry on the healing he had done and they wonder why more emphasis is not put on it today. They then turn to therapies such as reiki: in fact, I have seen it said that reiki is actually just that, a continuation of the healing of Jesus. I myself am uncertain about the Charistmatic movement in the Catholic church: I have no idea whether the people who rubbish it are right or not. For this reason, I found a book I read recently by somebody called Francis MacNutt extrememely interesting.
Francis MacNutt is a Catholic who is involved in the Charismatic movement. After I read the book, I discovered that he used to be a Catholic priest, although sadly he left the priesthood and got married – something which understandably earned him a lot of criticism from other Charismatics. He now runs a healing ministry called Christian Healing Ministeries with his wife Judith. The book I read though is called ‘The Prayer That Heals: Praying For Healing In The Family’ and its purpose is to encourage us all to pray regularly for healing with our friends and family. To read a book like that by (as I thought at the time) a Catholic priest was amazing – and I was really quite disappointed to learn, after finishing the book, that he has left the priesthood. Nevertheless, his faith in the fact that God does indeed heal – and heal very regularly – when we pray for somebody in this way is obviously very strong indeed. If you are interested in Christian healing, I suggest you read this book.
I have very little experience of praying for healing in the way Francis suggests: as he says in the book, people are usually shy and embarrased about praying with each other. My only experience (and this might sound silly) is of praying for our very old dog when he was alive (he died last summer). It is a long story and I will not go into it here, but he came to us in the first place very much as the answer to a prayer – the most direct answer to a prayer I have ever had – and we always considered him to be a bit of a miracle dog, so praying for him did not seem strange. I used to lie down on the floor with him, place my hands on him and pray for him. He survived two or three strokes, one particular one we came back home to discover him almost dead. On that occasion, when I prayed for him I saw him visibly improve. So, what Francis MacNutt writes about is not so strange to me. He tells that healings happen often, that bones re-grow, cancers disappear. Interesting stuff!
Of course, in the Catholic church, we are taught that putting up patiently with suffering is good, that suffering has a value. Many of the saints suffered, some even asked God if they could suffer more! Undoubtedly, we have to be ready to accept the will of God, whatever it might be. Jesus though did heal, and he told his disciples to carry on his healing works…..
It is all confusing, but there is one thing I am sure about ……. I think it would be far better to follow Francis MacNutt’s advice than to get involved in something as suspect as reiki!