All posts tagged: healing

Anointing of the Sick Confronts Human Finitude and Dependence

Anointing of the sick sanctifies the journeying disciple in his weakest moment, reinvigorating hope for healing and ushering in the kingdom of God. Anointing of the sick configures the ill to Christ’s passion, inaugurates the glorification of the body and spirit in the resurrection, and rejoins the marginalized into the Body of Christ. Anointing of the sick confronts human finitude and asserts our total dependence on God for healing. In the sacrament, God hears the cry of his people[1] and rushes towards them in their pain, revealing his nuptial love.[2] The grace of the sacrament strengthens the sick man in his obedience to God, inviting him to trust in God with his whole life[3] and surrender to healing on God’s terms.[4] Anointing of the sick calls the ill to freely unite himself to the passion and death of Christ[5] by living out the Paschal mystery through his particular suffering as a witness to the cross, with hope in the resurrection. Anointing bestows new meaning on suffering[6] without justifying the incoherence of evil. God recasts our …

Holy Saturday: Christianity Is Not a Solution to the Problem of Suffering

Difficulties: First, images that make sense poetically have to be coordinated within a narrative flow; this is something I attempt to do for my poem when I comment on it below. Second, what exactly constitutes healing in the Christian sense is made impossibly complex in light of a Crucified Savior who keeps His wounds after the Resurrection. Holy Saturday Oh beat slow, heart of creation – First light! First love! Revelation! First flesh found in Incarnation, Beat the blood to our salvation! Find so within the vein of God tireless tracks to faith untrod ‘til riven, wrecked, rent kavod of unstrung sinews, strums overawed. Clotted, untinctured, tear-sealed tomb, thrice holy still unholy wound. Once empty chamber – sin consume! Once-pierced heart – rise, beat, assume! Leave not me here, alone and free, a bloodless heart that beats for thee! Heart held in blood eternally – find Heart yet held in Trinity! These lyrics are about the longing for salvation. They are voiced by someone who has faith that the man from Galilee is not lost …

Where Does the Healing Power of Music Originate?

“Musick has charms to soothe a savage breast.” —William Congreve, The Mourning Bride (1697), Act I, Scene I Music seems to possess a boundless capacity to ease the suffering of a wounded heart. Whether at a funeral, a prayer service in the wake of a local or national tragedy, a reconciliation service, a regular Sunday Mass in Ordinary Time, or even in the car on the way home from work, music speaks to the heart in ways mere words never could, often requiring no words at all to bring a sense of peace and solace to those who suffer from emotional, spiritual, even physical wounds. Why? Woundedness, at its core, is the result of disintegration. There has been a rupture of some kind, and life’s relative equilibrium has been suddenly and perhaps even violently thrown out of balance, leaving a person feeling like she is no longer herself, like she no longer even knows who that self was in the first place. This spectrum of disintegration is vast and varied, including anything from minor events like …

Healing and Culture

He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn and cared for him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, “Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.” Which of these, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?” He answered, “The one who treated him with misericordia.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” (Lk 10: 34–37) I’m not exactly sure why I’ve been invited to address you. I’m not a theologian. Now in the mouths of some that claim might appear to be just bragging. But in my case it is a true confession of ignorance. By and large the theology I know has been by assimilation rather than study. Nor am I a liturgist. Again, by saying that I am no liturgist I’m not trying to assure you …

Liturgy and Healing: Prayer for the Sick

Sickness and death, pain and grief—our own or others’—are perhaps the most powerful motives for human prayer. Even if someone’s doubt or indifference about God outweighs faith, sickness often leads them to ask for prayer. And when they ask, no matter how busy, how intimidated, or how apathetic we have become in our prayer life generally, most of us attempt, once again, to frame a prayer. How can sickness be so powerful, and what is it we want when we ask for healing? We pray because the perception that someone we love is vulnerable, suffering, or broken compels us to wrap that person in care, to exercise our muscles—however atrophied—of spiritual solidarity. If nothing else can be done, we at least want to suffer with the one who is suffering. This instinct is one of the first liturgical impulses we learn as children, to pray for the sick. Like our other liturgical impulses, it can help us recognize who God is, as in our prayers we realize that this love for the suffering is a …