"Big Four" Highlights


God’s Gift of Mercy

New book highlights healing for Year of Mercy

By Brian Caulfield, FFG Editor

In her book titled Healing, Mary Healy gets right to the point. She begins with a real-life account of a young woman in a wheelchair who begins to walk through the prayers of a young man who did not know her, but who was prompted by the Holy Spirit to pray over her.

That’s the challenge from the start of this gripping and intriguing book that will make you take a hard look at your faith. Real people, real situations, real prayers and real healings, recounted by a trusted author, a professor at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit. We are brought back to New Testament times with Jesus asking the question of the two blind men, “Do you believe I can do this?” They said they did believe, and Jesus touched their eyes, saying, “Let it be done for you according to your faith” (Mt 9:28-29).

What would you or I answer to that question of faith? Maybe something more like the father of the deaf and mute boy possessed by a demon, who cried out to Jesus: “I do believe, help my unbelief!” (Mk 9:24).

Faith. That is what Jesus seeks even as he heals. The people are drawn by the “signs and wonders,” the feeding of the 5,000, the raising of the dead. But Jesus acts as though these are simple; what is really supernatural – miraculous – is faith.

Yet healing was central to the ministry of Jesus and his disciples, and Mary Healy says that we live in an age that needs healing more than ever.

“In our age of dramatic de-Christianization and unprecedented secularization, in which people are walking around lost, as spiritual orphans, the gift of healing is more called for than at any other time in recent history,” she said in a FFG interview. “Miraculous healing touches people’s hearts like nothing else. When you see and feel the Lord heal their body and remove their pain, that changes you. It cannot be denied.”

Her book recounts incidents in which she has been an agent of healing, when the Holy Spirit prompted her to announce before a group of the faithful that God was looking to heal some people in the audience. After intense prayer and intercession, she asked those who were healed to come forward, and some people did.

Sure. If you’re like me, you’re thinking that this all may be a result of enthusiastic psychological response. How sick were those who were healed? How long were they healed for? Where’s the scientific study and proof? Healy provides convincing answers to those and other objections.

Yet my bigger question involves the Church’s sacraments. In Catholic theology, the sacraments are fonts of healing, especially Confession and Anointing of the Sick, with the Holy Eucharist crowning all healing as the “source and summit” of the Christian life. How does healing by a layperson fit into this sacramental order? And do we risk neglecting the sacraments by running after “signs and wonders”?

A good and orthodox professor, who teaches seminarians, Healy has an answer. “In Catholic theology,” she said, “Jesus works in a preeminent way through the sacraments, but not in an exclusive way through the sacraments. We all have charismatic gifts that God wants us to use, as the Spirit gives us prompting.”

She is careful throughout her book to note that healing gifts are not a sure sign of salvation, and that both the healer and the healed must persevere in basic Catholic virtue, remain humble and grateful, and have frequent recourse to the sacraments, especially Confession and Holy Eucharist.

“Christianity is a religion of healing; that is as true today as it has ever been,” Healy said. “The whole work of redemption is an act of healing; the wounds of sin are healed, and we are made holy – whole in body and soul – as we are prepared for life with God.”

Read this book, and ask God to heal you in whatever way you need to be healed. It’s a great gift for the Year of Mercy which begins December 8.

For more information on Healing: Bringing the Gift of God’s Mercy to the World, visit the Our Sunday Visitor website.