St Francis Q&A

Friday, February 10, 2006

Going to Christ for healing

Continuing the theme from my homily this past Sunday, "Going to Christ for healing", here are some other scenes from the Gospel in which Christ performs healings. These are basically my notes from a discussion with students from George Washington University last year (I was assigned there on weekends); many of them found it very helpful to discuss. Please feel free to leave any questions or comments.
Firstly, the blind man at Jericho (Mk 10:46-52). "What do you want me to do for you?" is what Christ asks the man. Why? Jesus knows he wants to see. Like us, he wants the man to state his specific request to show that he believes Jesus can heal him of it. Jesus says the same thing to you and me: 'What do you want me to do for you?'

Secondly, the paralytic man (Mk 2:1-12). The absolute urgency of this man's friends to bring him to Jesus- they remove the roof and lower him down to the Lord! Do we have the same urgency to be healed by Christ? Or, have we resigned ourselves to being paralyzed by certain sins? We might think 'even the Lord can't heal this wound, or get rid of this sin'.

Thirdly, the woman with the hemorrhage (Lk 8:43-48). This woman had suffered for 12 years from hemorrhaging, and "no one had been able to cure her". Then, she simply touches Christ's garment and she is healed "at that moment". The absolute primacy of the healing power of Jesus Christ! He alone can heal us in ways that no one or thing can.

So, what are our wounds? Do they go back 12 years (or more)? Sins, habits, vices? Problems with family or friends? Hatred? Anger? Rejection? Loneliness? Fear? Tragedy? Illness? Ultimately, all wounds are the result of sin, either our own sins or those of others.

How have we tried to heal them? Through other sins? Alcohol or drugs? Through psychology (which can be healing if rooted in Christ)? As more than one psychologist has admitted, 'we don't have the tools that priests do'.

How can Christ heal our wounds? Primarily through His priests in the sacraments (especially Confession, Anointing, and the Eucharist), spiritual direction, and healing ministries; through worship, His Word, prayer, community, friends, family, service, and humor (don't forget: He gave us all our senses of humor).

Christ's healings from the Gospel (and in our lives) are signs of the coming of the Kingdom. Through them, He announces a more radical healing: victory over sin and death through His Passion, Death, and Resurrection. And, just as in the sacraments, He brings about extraordinary grace through ordinary matter (spittle, e.g.).

When Jesus heals someone internally (forgives sins, e.g.), it is a greater miracle than walking on water or feeding the 5,000. In other words, He can perform a miracle in you or me by healing our internal wounds that would be greater than any external miracle He performed 2000 years ago.


  • Hi Greg,

    Question for you. I recently read a book called Breaking Free, 12 steps toward purity (or something like that).

    Anyway, one of the steps was learning to discern when one is under spiritual attack. It really did not go into that in much detail. Before I consult Google in an attempt to find a catholic answer, I thought I'd ask you for your thoughts.

    By Blogger Ty Roach, at 5:38 PM  

  • Hey Ty, great question! A great starting point in understanding spiritual attacks is 1 John 4. St John the Evangelist lays out how to determine whether a spirit is good or evil. In addition, St Ignatius of Loyola has written quite a bit about discernment of evil spirits.

    Now, you're asking about when we are confronted with an evil spirit / thought / attack, especially in regard to sexual impurity. My spiritual director, Fr Thomas Morrow, has some good stuff on this. He writes about what happens when an impure thought hits, and what to do.

    Whether the thought is from me or an evil spirit, it's a thought I don't want. How do I get rid of it? If I'm 'under spiritual attack', then it will be many thoughts, and repeated, but I can repeat the same process each time (saying the name of Jesus over and over, e.g.)

    Also, I thought it would be good to see what Morrow writes about the battle for purity in general terms. It is a battle involving our minds (imaginations) and our wills. If we can have our minds "reason" with our wills, our wills will follow our minds every time. Example: A married man sees another beautiful woman, and is naturally attracted to her. His mind should say to his will, 'she's a beautiful woman, and she's made for someone else. Not me. Move on'.

    He will move on if his mind says so. To paraphrase Morrow, if the man has to think of sports or something at that moment, he should do it. He'll forget about her. It might sound a bit too simple, but it's a practical way to wage spiritual battle. It is tedious, and requires much discipline; this is the work of the chaste man or woman.

    I can attest to Fr Morrow's approach (which echoes John Paul II, St Thomas Aquinas, St Augustine, etc.). I have employed this and have found freedom in the area of purity, thanks be to God. The following is an excerpt from Fr. Morrow's booklet, "Is Chastity Possible". Hope it helps.

    "The imagination is another potential danger area. When one becomes aware of an impure thought he/she should immediately try to crowd out the thought with another colorful thought, such as a ball game, or a beautiful sunset, etc.

    In addition, one should take the advice of St John Vianney to make a sign of the cross to drive away the temptation, and with St Catherine of Siena, say the name of Jesus repeatedly in the heart (which is how she fought off a series of foul temptations).

    An uninvited impure thought is not sinful, but once a person wills its continuation, sin enters in, and as Jesus pointed out, one can sin seriously in the heart.
    In addition, since there are competing voices for the control of the sexual appetite, it doesn't work for reason to deal with the appetite "despotically," simply saying "no" to the appetite's appeal. If it does, it will repress the appetite into the unconscious where it will await a chance to explode (Pope John Paul II, in his pre-papal Love and Responsibility, henceforth LR, Ignatius Press, p. 198).

    At a moment of weakness the appetite will indeed explode with an outburst of sexual activity. This is seen in the person who contains himself/herself for several weeks but then goes on a spree, and repeats this cycle over and over.
    The intellect must deal "politically" with the appetite, setting forth the values which will be gained by living chastity, to make up for the value of the sexual pleasure which is sacrificed."
    -TG Morrow, 1994

    By Blogger Fr Greg, at 9:03 PM  

  • One correction in my comment to Ty Roach: I should have written in the 4th paragraph, "it is a battle between our minds (intellects) and our wills".

    The basic point in all of this is that our intellects can control our desires if we are open to God's grace and if we work with His grace, no matter how strongly we are under attack.

    By Blogger Fr Greg, at 9:13 PM  

  • Greg, in my opinion, you should copy this comment and make it more prominent (i.e. as a new thread post).

    Two words: AWE-SOME BABY!

    In Christ,


    By Blogger Ty Roach, at 11:33 AM  

  • Mind Over Muscle: Embarking on a physical training program brings rewards that can be achieved by little else. Whether exercising to stay fit, feel good, or just to look terrific, you can add power to your efforts by employing the insights and techniques used by high-achievers to obtain that 'look' you've always dreamed of!
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    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:06 PM  

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