From our Director of Parish Life, Shayne Slough…
When we chose our Lenten “theme” (“Encounter Hope, Experience Healing) in early February, little did we know how it would take on such an added layer of meaning during this Lenten journey. Originally meant to tie into our newly formed Hope & Healing Prayer Ministry and a homily series on Reconciliation, hope and healing all of a sudden are at the very heart of what we all need this Lent in yet another very real way given the pandemic in which we find ourselves living! Last week, Angel beautifully wrote about asking the Lord for healing and encountering it in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This week, I’d like to extend this discussion on healing and relate yet some other ways we can experience it.
At the very beginning of 2020, I encountered the Lord’s healing in two powerful ways! Attending the FOCUS SLS conference with Joseph Gruber and a few others from our parish, I had the chance one of the days to attend Dr. Mary Healy’s talk on healing. She explained how the Lord empowers us to pray for others’ healing even today (something I wrote about in late January’s bulletin). At the end of her talk, she asked the Holy Spirit for Words of Knowledge. She called out a few ailments present in the room. One of them spoke to me. She mentioned a shoulder with pain, probably from arthritis. I’d struggled with shoulder issues for many years , limited in what I could do/how much I could carry with my right arm and often enduring the pain of tight muscles and spasms, especially when I’d try to lie on my right side. When I heard her mention a shoulder that needed healing, I closed my eyes, opened my hands to receive from the Lord, and trusted. It’s hard to describe what I felt…it was like my shoulder ligaments moved internally (a most unnatural feeling), but I felt peace and joy, and I knew I was healed! I hadn’t realized I had arthritis in my shoulder (but it started to make sense when I thought of an injury long ago in the hay barn on my parent’s farm.)
Later that day, unrelated to my shoulder, I started to feel unwell…a sinus infection, I believe, was the culprit. I was literally waiting my turn for Reconciliation (looking forward to yet another healing encounter that day!) but couldn’t find the energy to wait in the long line any longer. Heading back to my room with chills, and later to discover a fever, I plopped into bed praying to feel better by the morning. While I awoke still with a fever, I found I had received a different grace! Gone were the feelings of “I don’t want to miss the last day of the conference!”, “What about saying good-bye to my small group…the new friends I had met?”, and “Now, I’m going to miss the Jeremy Camp concert!” And this lack of concern about these things wasn’t because I was feeling so lousy! The Lord had graced me to rest with him…to accept that at this moment this is what my life held and that I could trust in the Lord who held me. “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you…plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) I continued to pray throughout the day that I’d be able to board the plane in the morning and head back to Michigan with the others. By morning, my fever was gone; though I was still feeling weak and tired, I headed to the airport and found myself wrapped in the Lord’s peace and comfort. In a level of trust I had never before opened myself up to, the Lord entered in. I truly received two types of healing within 24 hours!
With our parish’s Hope & Healing Team “out of action” during our “stay at home” order and with our opportunities for Reconciliation a bit more limited than was the plan for this Lent, lean in on the Lord in your own prayer. The Lord offers grace when we ask for healing! Sometimes, there’s an actual physical or mental healing; other times, the Lord provides what we need to persevere, to accept His will.
We’ve heard many voice that given the circumstances we’re in during this time of the Coronavirus, that the Lord is using this time to call us into a deeper personal relationship with him! It seems appropriate to repeat this idea here as an invitation to realize that God can enter into our lives in such a deeper way than we realize, and we only have to talk with him and listen and receive. The good Lord wants to heal us…from our sins and weaknesses; from the wounds of the past; from the anxieties of the present!
In one of this past week’s daily readings, the Lord asked the man lying on his mat by the waters in Bethesda, “Do you want to be well?” He asks us this same question. Answer him in prayer! (See p. 4 for a list of prayers from the JP II Healing Center.)