Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 14, 2003
Prayer power heals -- literally
Profound faith allowed a priest's prayer to stop pain
By FR. JACQUES JOHNSON
The Grouard-McLennan Archdiocese has a great tradition of celebrating the blessings of holy oils on Monday of Holy Week at the cathedral in McLennan in northern Alberta. Parishioners come from hundreds of kilometres for the event. St. John the Baptist Cathedral overflows.
The archbishop, assisted by the priests, leads the people in prayer. He blesses the olive oil in their silver containers. The Eucharist is celebrated with great gusto. When all the celebration is over, the celebration continues, this time in the basement of the cathedral where loads of sandwiches, cakes and other goodies as well as coffee, tea and soft drinks are served by the Catholic Women's League and Les Dames de Sainte Anne.
I was one of the priests concelebrating, I had encouraged the people of my parish and missions of Grouard and area to attend. People responded well with an impressive delegation. A major bonus for me was that my mother and some of my siblings were there too.
So I was spending quality time sharing coffee and the latest news with them when a tugging at my sleeve called for my attention. One of my parishioners, a 10-year old girl asked me to come and see her mother. I'm with you all the time," I said, "Let me visit with my family. I'll see your Mom tomorrow." "But Bobby is crying." she insisted.
I did go back a few days later and inquired about Bobby. "All is well with him now," the mother informed me. "After you prayed for him the other night he felt well right away and the pain has never returned since."
A few days later I saw Bobby on his bike. I asked him how he was with the pain in his legs. "It's never bothered me since you prayed for me that time," he said.
This incident gave me pause. I've been trained to be a rational person, believing in what the sciences teach us. My reaction to any kind of ailment and disease was to go the scientific and medically proven route with a "cause and effect" approach to life's trials. With the help of my friends in Grouard and area I was brought into the world of faith, of love and of mystery.
There are energies in our world that are part of God's creation and that have a strange way of exploding our little mental theories. It brings to mind a verse of Shakespeare: "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than can be dreamed of in our philosophy."
Or in our awesome world of science for that matter. Shakespeare is hinting at the spiritual element in our world. And this world has much to do about love, about caring. And also about praying.
We are able to give life to others, to bring healing to them by touching, embracing someone with love, like mothers do so well. And in minutes, even seconds the suffering crying child is well again. The tears quickly dry up and in no time the child is out playing again.
In a way, we're all vulnerable creatures, fragile and easily at risk in a world that can be harsh and unforgiving. But we discover that beyond the healing power of drugs, there is a healing agent among us that is much more powerful.
I think it's the power to care. In a moment of despair or deep sorrow, there's nothing like a loving arm around our shoulder to bring instant relief, as if the poison of grief, sorrow, regret, guilt and fear is quickly dissolved by the positive energy emanating from a caring person close to us.
And it is God's will that loving hands and arms become a conduit, indeed, a sacrament of God's loving care. Thus the hurt in the afflicted person may be allowed to flow out by the good that flows from our heart and from our human touch, a touch that through love, has become the caring and powerful touch of God.
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