They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd, they opened up the roof above him. After they had broken through, they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, Child, your sins are forgiven. Mark 2:3-5
I started my new mission as an Adult RCIA Coordinator at a new parish. At Mass on Sunday the Priest invited us to a St. Anthony Healing Mass on the first Tuesday of the month. Apparently, this is something they do the first Tuesday of every month. I was delighted as I have heard about healing Masses before and have often wondered why there are not more of them. After all, Jesus was the healer, we can pray and ask for healing from Him and what a better place to do it than in the Liturgy that He left for us.
Now honestly, I wanted to go to the Mass with my oldest, who I refer to as “Little King”. He struggles with ADHD. I have wanted to take him to a healing Mass for a long time now. We have approached his treatment using science and the medical advancements, using alternative treatments, diet changes, and I thought, why not also approach it spiritually as well. So off to the healing Mass he and I went.
Whenever I seem to have an expectation of God, God always astounds me by showing me something totally unexpected. I went to the Mass looking for physical healing of my son’s brain focus. I left with something totally different, a gift for me, that I didn’t even know I needed.
Now I have never been to a healing Mass before. I wasn’t sure how it would go. And honestly after I arrived and Mass began, I think I was outside my comfort zone. The Mass began normally in the old Historic 1871 chapel, with its wood floors, amazing stained glass, and brick walls. We had the Introductory Rites, the Liturgy of the Word, and then the Homily after the Gospel. Then things changed. The lights went out. At first, because it had been raining, I thought the storm knocked the power out, but then I realized that the lights were still on in the outside hallway. My son and I looked at each other, but said nothing. Then the Priest came down to the front of the altar. He began shouting almost, really loudly. I honestly don’t remember what he was saying, because the people were saying their responses as well. I think he was calling loudly upon the power of God to heal. This is probably the closest thing I have ever attended to a charismatic event, though no one was speaking in tongues, and no one was falling over. The congregation began to say, “I forgive you my brother, I forgive you my sister,” over and over as the Priest shouted with Authority. I was caught off guard, but I joined in. “I forgive you my brother, I forgive you my sister,” I repeated over and over. I wasn’t sure of this, but I know in my heart that forgiveness is needed and is powerful. My son and I repeated and repeated as the Priest shouted. Then I closed my eyes and the strangest thing happened. Into my head popped almost every person I have recently been angry with. Some were people who I had trouble forgiving for a long while. The first image was of a person who had lied so very badly about me and almost ruined some of my most treasured relationships. I realized the anger I was holding onto. I realized, though I thought I had forgiven, I had not. I realized I had to let it go. Image after image of people who had hurt me popped into my head. The final image that popped in my head was my own face. There were things I needed to forgive myself for. Tears started to seep down my face. I tried hard to hold them in. I didn’t want to be the crazy new girl crying at the new church she works at, but still tears fell. My son seemed unfazed. After a little bit the Priest stopped. Then softly he said, some of you have had horrible childhoods, some of you have been molested, some of you have just simply been hurt really badly by another. (That last one was for me.) He told us it was time to forgive and let it go. I felt a physical release. We got up one by one and the Priest anointed our forehead and hands with Holy Oil. I felt a tingling all the way down my hands to my elbows that lasted several minutes afterwards. We finished with the Liturgy of the Eucharist and then we brought up food to be blessed and given to the poor. We prayed the litany of St. Anthony. I was overwhelmed and amazed. The healing had been for me.
I thought of the verse above about the healing of the paralytic. Jesus’ has the power to physically heal, but His great power is really to heal our hearts. He brought forgiveness to us, and when we give it to others, our lives can become transformed and peaceful. Incidentally, I saw this person who had lied about me not even one week after this Mass. It had been over a year since I had seen this person so I don’t think it was coincidence that this person was put in my path. My heart did not respond with anger as I had thought it would. Because of how far apart we were I did not get to speak to this person, but if I had been close enough, I would have said, “I forgive you, and I forgive myself.” It is so good to feel peaceful inside instead of feeling angry.
My son and I left the Church, I asked him what he thought. He made me laugh because there was no mention of the lights going out, or the shouting, or even the anointing. He just said as any 12 year old boy might say, “it was good mom, a little long, but good.” Has he been physically healed? I don’t know, but let’s just say that 7th grade so far is going much better than last year. Is it perhaps because of the Doctors, the Brain Balance, or the Healing Mass? Maybe it’s all of them. But I do know this, God has the power to heal. I am living proof.