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The Charismatic Catholic Science Geek

I have finally been catching up on my health, among other things. I've been taking all kinds of pills recently, getting blood work done, scheduling appointments with specialists, going to the chiropractor...you name it. It is in times like these that I am reminded why science is so awesome. Science has certainly done a lot for our health and I really hope it continues to help save more lives and heal more ailments in the future. As scientific as my background may be, however, I think there's a huge flaw in the manner in which we tend to treat our health issues. I know there's plenty of people out there that will take issue with this...but I think we often forget that God heals as well. I know I am certainly guilty of overlooking His role in my health. Don't get me wrong. I am all for taking advantage of just about everything science has to offer when it comes to treating illnesses (as long as it is ethical and doesn't involve the destruction of human life). I don't think anyone should ever stop their chemo treatments and I don't think anyone should ever stop taking their medication without their doctor's approval. 

What I am saying is that we should, on top of taking our medications and following up on our doctor appointments, also make sure to pray for healing. On top of hospital visits, we should also invite the Holy Spirit into our temples to cleanse us of our illnesses. Instead of allowing ourselves to be weighed down by stress and negative attitudes associated with medical forms, cranky nurses, etc., we should allow ourselves to be lifted up by Christ and allow him to fill us with his healing love. 

I went to a healing mass today at a local monastery. As small as the monastery is, it was packed with people who sought healing. Judging by the prayers I heard and the introduction given to us by the priest, I got the impression that this group of people needed all kinds of healing. Some suffered from alcohol addiction, others suffered from cancer, mental disease, stress, heartache, and the list goes on. Until I actually took part in the healing mass, I thought I knew what it was all about. This, however, did not turn out to be the case. 

After mass, the priest brought a monstrance to the altar and unveiled the Eucharist. With censer in hand, he filled the church with the wonderful aroma of incense as he allowed the congregation to prepare itself for what was to come. Essentially, he asked us to leave all our concerns, distractions, etc. aside as we sought Christ for healing. He also asked us to extend our right hand towards him and pray for the Holy Spirit. I focused on the reasons I had come to the mass. Mainly, I was there for my own healing and that of a cousin who was diagnosed with cancer this last December.

At one point, the priest transformed into a charismatic leader. I didn't hear him completely, but he called for "catchers" and "(maybe) healers" to come up. I didn't really know what was what, but I was compelled to go up. My whole body ached to go up to the front of the church and so I went...or at least started to go. As I was about to get out of the pew, my inner insecurities told me to sit back down. I didn't listen and ended up going up. I didn't know what I was doing up there, but ended up placing myself in front of someone there. As I stood, waiting for what was next, I remembered simply praying to God that I would remain open to whatever He had in store for me. I've had enough religious experiences in my life to know just when I should simply be open to His plan for me. Yes, I was skeptical about everything that was going on. However, I went with it. When the priest came up to me, I heard him pray to Christ, asking him to send the Holy Spirit. 

He didn't lay so much as a finger on me, but I found myself falling. I fell three times. Each time I steadied myself up with the help of my catcher, I found myself falling again as the priest prayed over me. It was incredible. As self-conscious as I am, I simply allowed everything to happen even though I did not know what was going on or what I was supposed to be doing. I simply received the Holy Spirit and went with it. It felt great. I was one of the first people to fall, and so I was back in the pew in a matter of minutes. Next thing I know, the whole congregation is in line, waiting for their own healing. 

Pentecost
Oil on canvas by Istvan Dorffmaister
Once I sat down, I felt myself get caught up in the whole process. Though I didn't speak in tongues like some of the people around me (priest included), I found myself envisioning my soul simply crying out to God. This cry came out as more of a hum every once in a while. I found some sort of power or feeling flood over me once in a while when he prayed over a particular person. I found myself in a bit of a trance, standing up and praying, sitting down and praying, or suddenly gasping out loud when the priest began to pray over some of the individuals. It was as if I was more than just a collection of atoms following the standard laws that govern physiology, brain function, etc. During those 2 hours or so...there was something different about me and everyone around me. There was something transcendent about the whole experience and it was WONDERFUL. It was like all of the religious experiences, miracles, etc. I've ever had were all wrapped up into one moment in my life. I could feel the presence of God there and it was incredible. Watching other people experiencing the same thing was just amazing. My sister did not fall when she went up...but she came back completely moved by the experience. It was so awesome watching my sister and others get involved in the same incredible moment that I was experiencing.

By the time we left that church earlier tonight, we were both speechless. I was still trying to make sense of everything that had just happened. I did know, however, that I was feeling WONDERFUL. I had a good feeling about everything. I had a firmer hope that my cousin would recover (and still have that hope). I had a good feeling of my own healing. There are so many things going on in my life right now that I simply prayed for peace and my cousin's healing. I certainly left with peace and intend to come again. Let us hope that God is willing to help my cousin out with His cancer...just as He was willing to help me attain peace tonight. 

With that said, I am still internalizing the whole incredible experience and really hope that you consider adding a bit of charismatic mass time to your schedule if you are currently dealing with your own personal demons. Just be sure to bring an open mind and an open heart. 

Pax Vobiscum


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