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God's promise of wholeness

The sacraments of healing

One of the blessings of my ministry is the chance to walk awhile with people on their faith journeys. Often, that journey is a quest for healing - sometimes physical, but more often spiritual. Those who are ill request prayers for a cure - from me, from their parish community and through the sacrament of anointing of the sick. Sometimes, in ways we do not always understand, they are cured of their ailments. Cancer goes into remission, tumors shrink and the gift of time is granted. But just as wonderfully, there is the gift of healing. The cancer stays, the tumor grows and time is short - yet the person is filled with peace and serenity, a sense of their place in God's amazing plan. It is this healing of spirit that God promises us in the sacrament of anointing.

Another sacrament of healing is that of reconciliation. Many of us are dealing with hidden wounds caused by broken or damaged relationships. Perhaps we are estranged from family or friends - perhaps from God. We have all experienced the offering of an apology and the acceptance of forgiveness; when it happens, we are grateful for the chance to start over in the relationship. The sacrament of reconciliation is God's invitation to another chance - it is an offer to heal us. As we speak our sins out loud, excising them as surely as a surgeon removes an unwanted growth, we release them into God's loving hands. In the words of absolution, God assures us of his continuing love and his desire to be one with us again.

Suzanne Fales was the instrument of another chance for Grace Drake - physically and spiritually. Suzanne's gift of a kidney renewed Grace's body and also renewed her spirit so that she could serve other kidney patients as a nurse.

Nancy Schertzing's quest for healing was not physical, it was a search for hope - hope to repair the tattered fabric of her marriage. Through Retrouvaille, she and her husband, Eric, were able to heal the breach in their relationship and find faith that they could have a future together as loving partners.

Like Harry Butler and his son, Kendall, those whose lives were torn apart by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita are also looking for mending. For them, the approaching season of Advent will truly be a time of new beginning, of making their lives whole again. As they struggle to do so, God calls us to be his hands and heart - reaching out in love and generosity to offer an opportunity to heal. And so, our journey in FAITH continues.