From our Director of Faith Formation, Todd Gale…
Our parish leadership has discerned that, in our call to becoming missionary disciples (evangelization), a key step is focusing our parish efforts in the upcoming months in the area of healing. By equipping those interested parishioners with the tools of healing and prayer ministry, thereby making available to our parishioners and others opportunities for prayer and healing, we will help remove any obstacles that hinder us from becoming “a community of missionary disciples.” We invite you to discover all that the Lord has in store for you, as wounds are healed and God’s grace pours forth to overflowing.
In the year ahead, St. John Parish is going to have a special focus on healing. People of our community and altogether folks in Jackson are carrying so many wounds and ailments. (Actually, our whole culture is in desperate need of all kinds of healing!) Some of these needs are physical, many are emotional, most are spiritual. Along with an emphasis on the healing graces from the Sacraments, we are going to offer opportunities for healing ministries through our Stephen’s Ministers, parish nurses, healing prayer teams, and small groups. We will be offering special training and discernment at monthly Ablaze Prayer Ministry gatherings as well as Gamma Group classes to walk through inner healing techniques and prayers that focus on forgiveness, healing identity wounds, unbinding us from false beliefs as well as prayers for physical healing. Intercessory prayer is essential to all of this process!
Healing in this sense is not new, it’s not “stolen from the Protestants” and it’s certainly not out of line with Catholicism. All of Christianity is based on the salvation that Jesus Christ offers us. The word SALVATION is Middle English, from Late Latin SALVATIO from the Greek SOTERIA which all generally mean “uninjured, in good health, heal, safe, saving from danger.” Jesus certainly healed people physically and spiritually and his disciples are called to follow him.
Jesus sent early disciples out to heal and cast out demons, long before the coming of the Holy Spirit. Just before ascending into heaven, Jesus commanded his Apostles to go into the world baptizing and teaching ALL that was taught to them. In Mark’s Gospel he specifically says his followers are to lay hands on the sick and they will recover.
Healing was essential to Jesus because He had compassion equal to His power. Physical healing is a sign that points to the perfection and health of our heavenly bodies in the Kingdom of God. It symbolized the success of Jesus in the spiritual warfare against sin and death. It continued with the Apostles in the book of Acts, it continued throughout the age of the early Church Fathers, and healing continues in our day. Many of us have seen it and experienced it ourselves.
We believe the Holy Spirit is prompting us to take action and allow our parish some time to heal our own wounds so that we can be a place of healing for the wider community. We know that any healing that happens comes from Jesus and the Holy Spirit; and we know that not everyone who asks for healing is granted what they desire. As Catholics we do have a deep understanding of suffering and the grace of the cross—but right alongside the theology of redemptive suffering is the theology of healing and resurrection. The mystery of our faith is all wrapped up in the tension between death, sin, sickness and life, holiness, healing.
Coming soon we will offer some opportunities for prayer after some of the weekend Masses. Appointments can be scheduled with staff and prayer ministers. Our Small Group leaders are receiving some opportunities to receive special healing so they can then engage their small groups more effectively. At our annual Alpha events we will introduce a special session on healing. A Saturday morning Men’s Group wants to be available to come to people for prayer, or have folks come to them on Saturdays at the Parish office.
Ablaze, a Thursday evening prayer group for women has been meeting for over a year under the leadership of Cindy Smith who has been studying and practicing many prayer methods. Ablaze is going to meet the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of each month to teach, train and practice various healing prayers. The 2nd Thursday will be the women’s group, the 4th Thursday will be opened to anyone (yes even us guys can attend!!)! These sessions are Thursdays 6:30-8:00 p.m.
Gamma Group is a class that’s been meeting for a little over three years taking a look at deeper subjects in the faith. Gamma will commit this next year to a study of healing prayer. We will study all of the healing episodes of the New Testament to see how Jesus did it, compare that with the related Catechism sections, and study a variety of healing techniques such as those taught by the Encounter School of Healing, UNBOUND, the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, Be Healed, Transformational Prayer Ministry and more. Gamma will meet the 2nd and 4th Sundays of the month also 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.
If you want to be involved with any of the classes and training, feel free to show up and join in. If you are in need of prayer, please let us know at the parish office. Feel free to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call me directly at 784-0553, ext. 7003.