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Who Is The Healer?


Last updated 5/3/2007 at Noon

I sat down, put my feet up and turned on the tube so I could relax and watch the news. There was a French nun talking about her healing from Parkinson’s. The next morning I came upon an article about the canonization process of Pope John Paul II (“by canonizing some of the faithful, i.e., by solemnly proclaiming that they practiced heroic virtue and lived in fidelity to God’s grace, the Church recognizes the power of the Spirit of holiness within and sustains the hope of believers by proposing the saints to them as models and intercessors” Catechism of the Catholic Church #828). There was also an article about the same French nun. Healing is something that is not unfamiliar to Christians. Here in Fallbrook at the Healing Rooms and in our churches, we regularly see healing. Over the years, I have celebrated the sacrament of the anointing of the sick and have witnessed God’s healing power in the lives of many of those I anointed. Healing was central to the ministry of Jesus. His mission was to break the chains that bind us, of which illness is one! That this French nun was healed was no surprise to me. What struck me was the articulation of how the nun was healed. Both on T.V. and in the print media, the French nun stated that she “prayed to” John Paul II and that “he” healed her. I hope I wasn’t the only one who was bothered by what she said.

First, what the French nun said goes to the core question of who it is that heals. According to Catholic theology all healing power comes from God. (I would postulate that this is pretty much the same for all Protestant churches as well.) Therefore, it is not John Paul II who heals someone, it is God who heals. At the healing rooms in Fallbrook, it is not the prayer team who heals, but God who heals through the team who is praying for the sick person.

Secondly, and just as problematic, the French nun indicated that she “prayed to” John Paul II. This may not seem like a big thing, but it is. We pray to God and God alone. We always pray through Jesus Christ, the one mediator (I Tim. 2:5). However, we do pray with one another. We call this intercessory prayer. We have a long tradition as Catholic Christians of asking Mary and the Saints to pray with us and for us. They are not God and do not answer prayer. They are Saints, like us, called to holiness and love, who proved faithful to this calling. They, like us, approach the throne of God through the one mediator, Jesus Christ. If this prayer is answered in a miraculous way it is first and foremost a sign of God’s benevolence. It is also a sign of the goodness of the Saint or person who has prayed on our behalf, who is willing to take the time and make the effort to become an instrument of God’s healing in our lives. The French nun’s healing is another of the infinite examples of God’s love and mercy. It is also an example of the communion of the Saints, those who have gone before us in faith, assisting us with their prayers. The French nun really did experience a divine healing, God acting in her life. Her articulation of how this took place was less than theologically correct and can cause confusion. How we explain our experiences and encounters with God is very important, because it can make the difference between others opening or closing to the witness we are giving. We must avoid misunderstanding and, as well, theological positions that would lead people astray or turn people off! Most of all, whether we are the recipients of a gift from God or the instruments through which God’s gift is given to someone, we must always make sure that God is first in receiving the glory!

(Condensed from The Fallbrook Christian Network)


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