Interesting Article on the Healing Mass and Sickness in General

I recently attended my second healing mass, and I loved it so much!  I remember hearing St. James mentioned and was unsure of the correlation.  I found this nice article on americancatholic dot org.

Certainly the tradition or practice of prayer for healing is rooted in the gospel and is as old as the Church.

The Gospels contain numerous stories of Jesus responding to the prayers of the sick or petitions offered on their behalf. And Mark tells us how the disciples “drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them” (6:13).

Further, the Letter of James bids us, “Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint [him] with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven” (5:14-15).

Through all these centuries Christians have prayed for the sick. Ministers of the Church have visited and prayed for and with the sick.

Does God answer prayers for healing? You can tour the shrines of the world like Lourdes and Padua and find testimonials of healing in answer to prayers.

In the renewal of Vatican II emphasis was again placed on the healing aspects of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. Instead of calling the sacrament Extreme Unction, viewing it as a prayer for those on the verge of death, the ritual speaks of the anointing of the sick and the pastoral care of the sick.

But let us note that even those who receive or received miraculous healings eventually succumb to sickness and death—even those who were healed by Jesus. There is a provisional aspect to every cure.

The charismatic movement in these later years has also emphasized prayers for healing and healing services among many Christians, among them many Catholics. It is in that context we can understand healing Masses—Masses dedicated to prayers and petitions for the sick. In some cases the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is conferred during these Masses.

As you note from your own experience, not all those who attend such Masses or pray for healing are physically cured or made whole. But then, not everyone who goes on pilgrimage to Lourdes is miraculously cured. Miracle cures are by their nature exceptional. But note that those who fail to obtain physical cures at Lourdes often speak of a kind of spiritual healing, a new peace and acceptance. Surely there is a grace in the prayers and support of those who gather to pray with and for the sick.

The 17th Volume (Supplement) of the New Catholic Encyclopedia, in speaking of Christian healing, comments, “Ministers and theologians of Christian healing continue to debate the reasons some persons are healed, some are only improved and some do not respond at all to prayers for healing” (McNutt, 1974, ch. 18).

We do know that in the Gospels Christ responded to, and often demanded, the faith of people asking for healing.

We also know that we cannot view prayer as granting us an entitlement of some kind. Any properly ordered prayer contains, at least implicitly, the petition of the Lord’s Prayer—“thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Prayers aren’t magical formulas, as if you could say the right words often enough and get what you want.

Perhaps a person’s eternal welfare is better being served by enduring sickness. Sickness has its own graces, after all. It teaches us to become truly dependent on God. It helps detach us from material things, prepares us to find our hope in God. It is in sickness that we learn humility and in the goodness of those who serve us begin to appreciate the love and compassion of Christ.

Sickness also can make us stop and rethink our goals. It is in the experience of sickness that many have found God and set their feet on the way to holiness.

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