Why Doesn’t Everyone Experience God’s Healing Touch?

At a recent charismatic meeting someone wondered why some people are healed and others have to suffer, What kind of loving God would allow that? How do we explain this? Maybe the fault lies not with God but with us.
Often the answer given by many people is that we lack the faith necessary to be healed and this may be true in some circumstances where people put their faith in a visible doctor and tangible medicine rather than an invisible God. However, I believe that the answer to this question is much more than that. It is more of our lack of understanding and acceptance of God’s love for us.
God wants much more for us than just our salvation. He wants more than we want ourselves. He wants what is best for us. Jesus came so that we might have life and have it abundantly. See John 10:10. He wants to bless us in ways we can’t imagine or understand but we must be open to this. He knows us intimately better even than we know ourselves. He sees all our pains and wounds, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, relational as well as physical. In His eyes we look like Jesus in the scene after the scourging in The Passion of the Christ when Pilate presented the incredibly beaten Christ to the crowd.
There is anger buried and repressed from grammar school, wounds inflicted on us by our family or peers, injuries and resentments that we’ve held on to and buried just eating away at us, taking its toll on our bodies and spirits. We haven’t forgiven others and often ourselves. We beat ourselves us and put ourselves down. We feel hopeless, afraid to open ourselves up to God’s love or unwilling to let go of the anger and resentment, unwilling to forgive, unwilling to let go of our sins and vices, unwilling to let God really heal us so we say no and fail to experience God’s healing love.
We may not even realize we are doing this. It is part of our fallen nature to hold onto control, to resist surrendering our will to God, to refuse to allow Him to do what God wants to do, what is best for us. As a consequence we miss out on the blessings God wants to give us.
And there are times when God’s best for us is to call us home out of this fallen world to be with Him forever. We can never forget this.


A Faith Worth Dying For

Yesterday I heard an Egyptian woman give a testimony as to what is happening to Catholics and other Christians in Syria. What amazed me was that people who were lukewarm Catholics before the persecutions became stronger in their faith. Syria is not an isolated case. Over the past few years there have been reports of Catholics dying for their faith in Indonesia, Egypt, India, Nigeria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and the Philippines. It is ironic that people are willing to risk their lives to attend mass while the majority of American Catholics skip Sunday mass.
We are part of a Church that has long suffered persecution. Over the history of the Church it is likely that millions sacrificed their lives rather than give up their faith.
It started at the time of the Apostles. Almost everyone remembers that all of them except John ran away on the night of Jesus’ arrest. Yet somehow all of the eleven who ran later found the courage to be martyred? Only John, who took Mary to the Cross, died of old age. All of the rest suffered painful deaths. Peter was even crucified upside down because he felt unworthy to die the way Jesus died. I ‘m sure many of you remember St. Stephen, the deacon who was stoned to death even before the Apostles.
Most people are aware of the thousands of Catholics who were killed by the Roman Empire in the Coliseum and other places. They were willing to be fed to lions and bears and other wild animals rather than give up their faith. What is amazing is the number of witnesses to these executions who became converted. The Christians even converted many of their guards to the Catholic Faith and in turn, many of these became martyrs. How many of us would become Catholic if we knew that we would be executed and had witnessed others being executed?
Maybe people know of the martyrs who tried to convert the Germanic tribes during the Conquest of Rome. We know of the ones mentioned at Mass, but do we realize that there are probably hundreds of thousands of people who died for the Catholic Faith? We might think about the persecutions in communist Russia and China, even in communist Vietnam and Cambodia — but what about the no- communist world? Are we even aware of the thousands who died for their faith in countries we consider being Christian even Catholic?
What about England? We share a common heritage but hundreds of Catholics were martyred there. When Henry VIII started the Church of England any priest or bishop who refused to join was beheaded. We all know the story of St. Thomas More but there were many, many more. When Elizabeth was queen Catholic priests were hunted down, drawn and quartered at times. Any who assisted them in hiding were also executed. Amazingly, many Catholic men crossed over to France to study at the seminary at Reims then returned to England and went into hiding. They returned knowing it was more a matter of when, not if, they would be caught and executed. The lucky ones lasted three years. Blessed Thomas Hemerford was ordained in 1583 and was drawn and quartered on February 12, 1584. Edward Waterford was ordained in 1592, arrived in England in June, then captured and executed January 7, 1593. Both probably served for less than a year as priests. Amazingly Robert Ludlam served for six years before he was captured and executed with Father Nicholas Garlick and Richard Simpson. We have to ask what makes a man willing to make such a sacrifice.
Over one hundred and twenty English folk including women like Margaret Clitherow were either canonized or beatified for their martyrdom but there were surely more. You could be executed for hiding a priest like Thomas Warcop or being present when he was arrested. Edward Fulthrop was executed for converting to Catholicism. There were more killings when the Puritans took over England in the 1640’s during the English Civil War. Some were known for simply killing any Catholic they found.
Ireland was under the rule of the English for over four hundred years. That means the Irish were persecuted for that same time period. Many Catholic practices were outlawed. That’s why the Catholic faith was taught in hedge schools. It’s why there is a rosary called the Irish Penal Rosary, one decade long and easy to hide in your hand.
A great Catholic nation, France, persecuted the Church during the French Revolution. Any priest who refused to swear an anti-papal oath was guillotined. Father Rene’ Ambroise was guillotined with thirteen other priests on January 21, 1794. Sisters were executed for attending one of their masses. Sr. Rosalie du Verdier was executed three days after Father. Even lay people were executed Antoine Fournier, a father with two sons, was executed that same month. There were one hundred and ninety one priests beatified, including Fathers Jacques Lombardie, Jean-Georges Rehm.Gervais-Protais Brunel, Louis- Francois Lebrun, Andre Fardeau, and Claude Beguignot. At least forty two sisters were killed for their faith.
Spain, another great Catholic nation went through two periods of persecution. The first was during the period of occupation by the Moors. The second occurred during their civil war when the Loyalist government executed almost five hundred including Modesto Garcia Marti. Ramon Peiro Victori, Aurelio Ample Alcaide, Angel Prat Hostench and Prudence Canyelles I Ginesta for the Catholic Faith.  The Socialist government tried to wipe out the Church. Often these priests were caught because they chose to stay to minister to Catholics rather than flee to safety. Closer to home, Mexico persecuted Catholics during the 1920’s and martyred at least twenty five. Some were killed by a firing squad. Others, like Father Pedro Maldonado Lucero, were beaten to death.
In Asia over eight thousand Koreans were executed. Most of these were not clergy but lay people like Augustine Pak Chong-won and his wife Barbara, Madeline Yi Yonghui, and Martha Kim Song-Im who were beheaded around 1840. Thousands of Japanese were martyred by governments trying to remove Christianity from their country. Despite the persecutions, missionaries in the 1800’s discovered Catholics living in Nagasaki, Japan. They kept the faith alive for over two hundred years despite the threat of death if caught. In Vietnam over one hundred and thirty thousand including Peter Khanh, Peter Quy Cong Doan and Phillip Minh Van Phanwere killed for their faith and this was before communism.
Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, have died for this faith. Millions more risked their lives to practice it. Father Walter Ciszek, a Jesuit who served in Russia and was imprisoned in a Siberian work camp, wrote a book, He Leadeth Me about his experiences. In it he talks about the sacrifices men would make to receive communion. They would have to sneak away at lunch to say Mass but only a few could get away without the guards being suspicious. The others would have to wait until they finished the day and receive communion then. This was at the time you fasted from midnight on so they went all day without eating in order to receive the Eucharist.
When you look at the history of the Church and realize what people sacrificed and risked to practice their faith you have to think how easy we have it. Most of us can openly go to church any Sunday we want. We complain if the weather is bad or the mass schedule conflicts with a sports event. It’s a great sacrifice if the air conditioning isn’t working. An hour is too long for most people to fast or to be in church. On any given Sunday less than half of the Catholics in the US will go to Mass. Sadly, we’re better than many so-called Catholic nations.
Yet we practice a faith that millions were willing to die for. We have to ask ourselves, what is it that we don’t get? There is something seriously wrong here. We have it easier than previous Catholics. We are past the stage in our history when American Catholics were persecuted. There are only a few areas in our country where we face prejudice and ironically, my experience in the South has been that Catholics who do face prejudice seem to be more committed to the faith. The Mass and the Sacraments are in English. What more could we want?
It is time for Catholics to take the time to find out what they are missing, why so many would die rather than switch faiths. In countries like Communist Poland they endured persecution and discrimination but refused to give up their faith. In China true Catholics worship underground risking imprisonment and torture to practice their faith today. We’re not talking about priests and bishops but ordinary lay people like you and me.
What is it that they know that American Catholics are missing? What did they discover that makes them willing to die for their faith while so many American Catholics can’t be bothered to even attend Mass on Sundays?
The Catholic Faith is more than going through the motions, putting in your time, looking good to others, or following rules. It is more than a nice set of traditions at Christmas and Easter. It is more than a cafeteria menu that we pick and choose from.
Discover for yourself that it is about a relationship with God, a God who loves us passionately enough to become a man and die the most horrible death in history. Discover in the Sacraments a way to love God and be loved by Him. Go beyond the minimum required of Catholics and open your hearts to Jesus in the Eucharist. You will discover what the martyrs all discovered: a love so deep that you will be willing to give up all rather than turn your back on it. You will discover a God of infinite mercy and love who wants so much more for us than we want for ourselves or think possible. You will discover a faith worth dying for.

A Policy Straight From Hell!

Have you ever seriously thought about the current Democratic position on Abortion? Where exactly did it come from? Does it make any sense? The Democrats argue for gun control because so many are being killed but protect the unlimited slaughter of unborn children up to birth. What kind of person would stand for the unlimited killing of unborn children yet get upset over cruelty to animals? What kind of person would brag about their commitment to abortion? Could such a person even consider themselves to be human?
Think about the evolution of Democratic policy. First they were pro-choice, standing for the right of a woman to choose what to do with her own body. They claimed that Abortion should be safe, legal and rare.
However they oppose all attempts to regulate Abortion. They have fought parental consent laws. Teachers are forbidden to give even high school seniors a Tylenol, in some schools even cough drops without the permission of a parent. Yet 12 and 13 year olds can get abortions without parental permission. They have also fought against bills that would require doctors have admitting rights at local hospitals.
The reality is that they oppose any government regulation of abortions. It makes no sense that Doctor’s Care and Minute clinics are regulated by the state yet the Democrats oppose any regulation of Abortion.
It also makes no sense that the pro-choice party would oppose any bill that might make it possible for a woman to make an informed intelligent decision about abortion. They fight tooth and nail against bills requiring waiting periods or ultrasound. Lord forbid that a woman would decide not to have an abortion.
It is this pro-choice party that tries to force taxpayers to pay for abortions, not just here but we are forced to pay to promote abortion overseas. How is that being pro-choice, forcing people who are morally opposed to abortion to pay for them. Is it pro-choice to force an order of sisters to pay for birth control that can cause abortions? Does this make sense?
This party stands for the right of a woman to kill her child on the day the baby is due. Why not permit the execution of children under the age of 1? Is it really any different?
Where do these policies come from? Surely, only Satan himself would want to kill children as they are born? Surely only Satan would oppose laws designed to protect the health of women? Surely, only Satan would consider cats and dogs more important than babies or claim that they were protecting children by killing them! Only Satan would ignore the psychological and long-term physical damage done to women! Makes you think about the source of their other policies?