Praying with people for healing has come naturally to me through the years. When I was a young teen, my little foster brother suffered terribly from hydrocephalus and Mom and I would pray over him often. We joined the Anglican Healing Order of St. Luke the Physician, and learned a lot about healing through the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. (Mark 16:18) I used to love praying over handicapped children as a swim/gym instructor, and beautiful things happened that took me by surprise. The best date ever was the one that turned into a healing session at the local nursing home. I would pray over anyone who was open to it. The Holy Spirit lit a fire in my heart for this. It has grown stronger and more mature through the years, especially since meeting John Paul II. It has intensified since the election of Pope Francis.
Why am I so drawn to healing prayer? I know what it is to suffer. And I know what it is to be healed. I know what it is to suffer for such a long time that hope seems cruel, a set up for constant disappointment, making death seem like it would be a relief. Turning to the lives of the saints I concluded that this was God’s special plan for my life and necessary for the salvation of souls. Books and movies on the lives of saints such as Bernadette and Therese of Lisieux seemed to confirm this and imply that the worst possible illness meant the most souls saved and the highest possible glory. And wasn’t that what St. Paul’s thorn in the flesh and glorying in infirmities was referring to? So I shouldered my cross and bravely soldiered on, but always with a sense that something was missing. That’s probably why I never stopped asking God questions, arguing with him, complaining, and listening for answers. It also motivated me to never give up asking for prayers and praying over others for healing. And He has begun to answer my questions and my prayers in the most beautiful and unexpected ways!
I’ve been praying over people for almost four decades, but in the last year something new has been opening up. It started with the young couple completely freed from pain, and two young mothers who could not conceive and have since given birth. Little signs confirming the testimony (Mark 16: 17-19) are beginning to bubble up, after digging in the mud for many years. Our Lady asked St. Bernadette to dig in the mud for a spring. In spite of the humiliation, she did. The spring of Lourdes has gushed forth with healing waters ever since. Thank God St. Bernadette kept digging. And thank God for our fellow Christians who have been digging up healing springs all over the place. I think they have some important things to teach us. You should hear them talk about the Father’s love, our identity in Christ, and walking in His authority.
I have come to believe that the Holy Spirit gift of healing is very important for the New Evangelization. It is critical to reversing the culture of death. I believe it has a key role to play in building Christian unity and healing the broken Body of Christ. And I think we are going to be amazed to see the mysterious way that Mary, the Mother of God, is at the very heart of all this.
Also central to this grace is our new Pope Francis. He is a pope for the little people, and I sense the Lord is about to pour out the Holy Spirit on us little people as in a New Pentecost. God the Father is calling us to plunge head first into the fire of our baptism. He wants us to live and love in the power of the Holy Spirit with all His amazing gifts. It is the only way to win over the whole world to Jesus and His beautiful plan. So in Pope Francis’ words, “[Let's] Go!”
“The power of Baptism urges Christians to proclaim Christ courageously and without reserve. [The first Christians] were a simple faithful, baptized just a year or so – but they had the courage to go and proclaim. And people believed them! [Their preaching] worked miracles.” -Pope Francis