Category Archives: Healing

RIVERS OF LIVING WATER – Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal by Deacon Marty McIndoe

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the RIVERS OF LIVING WATER 2017 Catholic Charismatic Renewal Jubilee Conference in Pittsburgh last month. This conference was designed to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. Since it was the Catholic Charismatic Renewal that led me in to the Church back in 1972 and has fed me so well with its Spiritual Fruits, my wife and I decided we had to go celebrate. I am so glad that we did. The Conference ran from Thursday July 29th through Sunday July 23rd. Many thousands of people filled the Pittsburgh convention center with songs of praise and witness to the power of the Holy Spirit at work in the Church today. Pittsburgh was chosen as the place to have the conference because the Renewal started near there.


From February 17th through the 19th in 1967, several Duquesne University students gathered at the ARK AND THE DOVE Retreat House (see picture) to experience more fully their Baptism and Confirmation. After considerable prayer, the Holy Spirit came down upon them there as in a New Pentecost. They experienced the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. This changed their lives dramatically and empowered them to go out and tell others and the Charismatic Renewal began, initially at Catholic Colleges and in local parishes. It quickly spread throughout the world so that today there are over 120 million Catholic Charismatics in the Church today. There were bus trips out to the Ark and the Dove Retreat house. My wife and I went and were so glad that we did. It is definitely a Holy Place (see pictures).

Top: Retreat House chapel where the students gathered to receive the Baptism in the Spirit.  Bottom:  Cross and Spirit placed on Retreat grounds to celebrate the 50th anniversary.  In the back you can see the DOVE house.  The large blue house is the ARK.

The Conference had large gatherings and masses for all those in attendance and included song groups that sung in English, Spanish and Haitian. There were workshops for all three languages to supplement the General Sessions. Msgr. Joseph Malagreca, from Brooklyn emceed the event. Msgr. is fluent in many languages and went back and forth in all the General Sessions. Msrg. Is a good friend of mine who actually prayed over my wife and I for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit while he was a seminarian. Bishop Sam Jacobs, and two other Bishops, were celebrants at the masses. The music and prayers of praise were outstanding.

Three bishops and many priests and deacons celebrated mass.

Another good friend of mine, Eileen Benthal, is a member of the English music group, Living Praise (see picture) that sang at the Conference. Being at the general sessions was like being in Heaven on Earth. Each general session had a keynote speaker. They included, Patti Masfield, Esther Garzon, Ralph Martin, Mario Castaneda, David Mangon and more. Father Dave Pivoka moved so many people with his homilies. Damian Stayne led a healing service where hundreds of people received miraculous healings. In the midst of so many things to do, the Conference planners took time to present a slide show featuring many of the early leaders of the Renewal. They also included, and honored, those who have died. Throughout all of the sessions, the power of God was continually being manifest. God was certainly at work.

Living Praise song group

The breakout sessions included many notable teachers and speakers such as my good friends, John and Theresa Boucher, Mary Healy, Sr. Nancy Kellar, Mary Beth McLanski Green, Vinson Synan, Michelle Moran, Fr. Bob Hogan, Dave Van Vickle, Alan Schreck, Dan and Caroline Dirkes and others. There was something for everyone. I attended a priest and deacon workshop by Bishop Sam Jacobs. He was fantastic.
On Saturday evening we had Eucharistic Adoration and then a Eucharistic procession out of the Conference, through the city streets to a park about a mile and a half away. Thousands of us went in the procession carrying lit candles. We started out of the Conference center going through their wall of water, which reminded me of Moses parting the Red sea (see pictures). It was a very moving experience and a sign of witness to the city.

We started our evening candlelit Eucharistic procession by passing through the walls of water at the Conference Center.  It reminded me of Moses dividing the Red Sea.

The Eucharis was carried under a canopy as we all sang songs of praise.

We closed the conference on Sunday by celebrating the Mass of Pentecost with Bishop Sam Jacobs presiding. The whole weekend was a witness to the Power of the Holy Spirit at work in the Church. I know that it invigorated me. God is so good.

The streets were alive with the sound of music.  This is outside our hotel.  The spirit of joy and praise carried on throughout the hotels and restaurants and city streets.

Several times, Popes have addressed the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. Below you will find some of the most important quotations that have given the Renewal light and strength. ICCRS has published a book with all the messages and addresses which the Popes have given to the CCR: The book, “Then Peter stood up…” – Collection of the Popes’ Addresses to the CCR from its origin to the year 2012.

Pope Paul VI
“How then could this “spiritual renewal” not be “a chance” for the church and for the world? And how, in this case, could one not take all the means to ensure that it remains so? […] Nothing is more necessary for such a world, more and more secularized, than the testimony of this “spiritual renewal”, which we see the Holy Spirit bring about today in the most diverse regions and environments. Its manifestations are varied: deep communion of souls, close contact with God in faithfulness to the commitments undertaken at Baptism, in prayer that is often community prayer, in which each one, expressing himself freely, helps, supports and nourishes the prayer of others, and, at the basis of everything, a personal conviction. This conviction has its source not only in instruction received by faith but also in a certain experience of real life, namely, that without God, man can do nothing, that with him, on the contrary, everything becomes possible.”

Saint John Paul II, Pope
“The Catholic charismatic movement is one of the many fruits of the Second Vatican Council, which, like a new Pentecost, led to an extraordinary flourishing in the Church’s life of groups and movements particularly sensitive to the action of the Spirit. How can we not give thanks for the precious spirituals fruits that the Renewal has produced in the life of the Church and in the lives of so many people? How many lay faithful—men, women, young people, adults and elderly—have been able to experience in their own lives the amazing power of the Spirit and his gifts! How many people have rediscovered faith, the joy of prayer, the power and beauty of the Word of God, translating all this into generous service in the Church’s mission! How many lives have been profoundly changed! For all this today, together with you, I wish to praise and thank the Holy Spirit.”

Pope Benedict XVI
“What we learn in the New Testament on charism, which appeared as visible signs of the coming of the Holy Spirit, is not a historical event of the past, but a reality ever alive. It is the same divine Spirit, soul of the Church, that acts in every age and those mysterious and effective interventions of the Spirit are manifest in our time in a providential way. The Movements and New Communities are like an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the Church and in contemporary society. We can, therefore, rightly say that one of the positive elements and aspects of the Community of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal is precisely their emphasis on the charisms or gifts of the Holy Spirit and their merit lies in having recalled their topicality in the Church.”

Pope Francis
“You, the charismatic Renewal, have received a great gift from the Lord. Your movement’s birth was willed by the Holy Spirit to be ‘a current of grace in the Church and for the Church’. This is your identity: to be a current of grace. […] You have received the great gift of diversity of charisms, the diversity which becomes harmony in the Holy Spirit, and in service to the Church. […] The Charismatic Renewal is a great force meant to serve the preaching of the Gospel in the joy of the Holy Spirit. […] You, the people of God, the people of the Charismatic Renewal, must be careful not to lose the freedom which the Holy Spirit has given you! […] I expect you to share with everyone in the Church the grace of baptism in the Holy Spirit (a phrase we find in the Acts of the Apostles).

Bringing Jesus to a 105 year old – by Deacon Marty McIndoe

This afternoon I had an absolutely wonderful experience. It all started last week when I was talking to a Eucharistic Minister who brings the Holy Eucharist to some people who are homebound. I asked her about an old friend of mine who used to come to our Charismatic prayer meeting many years ago. She was also always in church and I enjoyed talking to her. Her family has been very active in our church and community and I know so many of them.  It has been a while since she has been in church and I missed her. The Eucharistic Minister told me that this woman was doing well and has mentioned to her that she would love to see me.  I told the EM that I would love to go with her the next time she went.  Today was the day. It was to be a surprise visit.

I don’t want to mention this woman’s name, because I didn’t ask her for permission to use it. But I do want to tell you some interesting things about her and our visit and the presence of Jesus.  This friend has been homebound for several years. She has a really good excuse, she is 105 years old. When you see her she certainly doesn’t look her age. When you talk to her she seems so young at heart. Her mind is as sharp as a tack. When we first walked in her daughter (who I also know well), who didn’t know I was coming, greeted us with a huge smile and welcomed us in. We then went in to the room where the 105 year old was sitting at the kitchen table. The smile on her face when we walked in lit up this rainy, dark and dreary day. It was enough to absolutely warm your heart.

We spoke for a while reminiscing about old times in the prayer group and in the parish. I was so surprised at the details that she remembered. She seemed so happy to talk about the old times, but also seemed so happy about talking about her present life. She related how she loved Jesus and Mary and the prayers that she can offer. She was sad only because she couldn’t be a part of the church activities. She also was quite concerned for a dear relative who had fallen and broken some bones. We prayed for that relative.

After talking for a while, we prayed the rosary. She knew every prayer so well. She was so excited to tell me about her rosary. It seems that a friend of a friend had gone to Rome and had an audience with Pope Francis. This friend mentioned that he had a friend who was 105 years old and still prayed the Rosary. The pope then reached in his pocket and pulled out a rosary, blessed it and told the man to give it to the 105 year old.  That is the rosary that we used. It is absolutely beautiful and to know that the Pope had sent it to her, was very uplifting.

We then did what this person does every time before receiving the Sacred Host.  We prayed an Act of Contrition and then an Our Father.  She then received the Host with such a beautiful, warm, glow on her face. It was so moving to watch. We then talked for a while and prayed together.  I prayed for her specifically while laying on hands.  I also gave her and the EM and her daughter a blessing. Truth be told……I was the one who received the blessings.

So why do I bring this one occasion up? It is because things like this happen continuously in the Church. Bringing Jesus to the homebound (or nursing home etc.) is one of the most satisfying things a Minister of the Eucharist can do, whether they are ordained or an Extra-ordinary Minister. This last Sunday I brought the Eucharist to several people in one nursing home and then on Monday I brought the Eucharist to another nursing home.  The experience of doing that is so satisfying.

I really encourage all Eucharistic Ministers to reach out to the homebound and bring them Jesus.  So many EM’s help out at mass with the distribution of the Most Blessed Sacrament, and this is great and well needed in most parishes.  But an even better way to minister to people is by visiting the homebound. It is a ministry that brings Jesus to others and allows Jesus to come to you in a very special way. God is good.

A Healthy Body, Mind and Spirit by Deacon Marty McIndoe

There is so much emphasis today on taking care of the body.  I just read a statistic from STATISTIC BRAIN that says Americans spend about 24 BILLION dollars on annual gym and health club memberships each year.  That is a lot of money!   People go to health food stores and shop for healthy products.  This is quite commendable.  The body is a very special gift that God has given to us and we should take good care of it.  What I find disturbing is that people are often very concerned with the physical body and forget about the true wholeness of who we are.  We, as a person, consist of so much more than just the physical body.  We have a mind that needs to be taken care of, and a spiritual side that needs to also be cared for.  Unless we properly feed and exercise all three parts of our person, we will suffer.  I would like to take a look at the body, mind and the spirit and how we can help them to grow healthy.  I see three main things to consider: Intake, Avoidance and Exercise.  I will look at all of these in relation to the body, the mind and the spirit.

BODY – The body is a wonderful creation.  It gives us mobility, sight, hearing, touch, sex and reproduction and the ability to experience so much in God’s creation.  Anyone who studies the body quickly realizes that it is a complex mechanism.  God knew what He was doing when He created our body.  It is up to us to keep the body what it is meant to be.  In order to do that, we need to consider three main things:

1 – Intake:  The foods and drinks that we take in should be healthy for us.  We really should be eating whole grain foods, and lots of fruits and vegetables and nuts.  There is a lot to be said for true organic foods as well as healthy meats.  Our body also needs a great deal of water.  Water not only replenishes the body but also helps to remove toxins.

2 – Avoidance:  Fast foods, processed foods, “recreational” drugs, soda.  Red meats should be kept at a minimum and only healthy oils such as Olive and Canola oils should be used.  It is also good to keep alcoholic beverage to low or moderate use.

3 – Exercise:  Walking, running, swimming and aerobic exercises are very important.  Weight lifting is also a positive thing to do.

 

MIND – There is a saying that “the mind is a terrible thing to waste”.  This slogan was adopted by the United Negro College Fund in 1972.  It was actually one of the most successful campaigns in television history.  The saying is so true.  Our mind needs to be educated and stimulated.  There is no doubt that the mind/brain is very complex.  It, like the body, needs sustenance, avoidance and exercise.

1 – Intake:  The brain/mind is made to take in as much information as possible.  For me that means reading good books and studying various subjects.  I take many various courses, both online and in person.  I also read many different types of books and I love researching things on the internet.

2 – Avoidance:  Pornography is a very serious assault on what the mind is meant to do.  Spending time mesmerized in front of the television is also counterproductive.

3 – Exercise:  When you are reading you are definitely exercising the brain.  When you study for courses you are exercising the brain.  When you just take time to think, you are exercising the brain.   Things like cross word puzzles are great too.

 

SPIRIT – The “thing” that gives us our personhood is the Spirit or Soul.  This is the most precious gift of all.  With that we are like God in that we will live forever.  The Spirit is ultimately what is in charge of the body and the mind.  It works along with the mind to bring us thoughts and reason.  It lifts us up to far above the ordinary.  This Spirit needs Intake, Avoidance and Exercise too.

1 – Intake:  There is no doubt that graces are given to our Spirit by the sacraments of the Church.   Baptism starts the journey and the Holy Eucharist is food for the Spirit.  Confirmation strengthens the work of the Spirit within us and gives us many gifts.  The Sacrament of Reconciliation can lift the Spirit out of the difficulties that sin causes us.  Holy Orders and Matrimony empower our Spirit to work in the vocation that God calls us to.  Even the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick heals the Spirit as it heals the body.  For me, the reception of the Eucharist each day is my daily bread that enlivens my Spirit.  The sacrifice of the mass, and participating in it, again lifts our Spirit.  The pondering of God’s Word in the Bible feeds the Spirit.

2 – Avoidance:  We must stay away from the occult, even things such as Ouija boards.  We must stay away from all the temptations of the Devil.

3 – Exercise:  We should make ourselves available to all of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  We should read and pray the bible.  We should spend a considerable amount of time each day in prayer.  Specialized prayers such as the rosary and divine mercy chaplet are great forms of spiritual exercise.  The Church’s Liturgy of the Hours is a fantastic way to pray.  I always recommend that people find a Spiritual Director.

 

In conclusion, we must remember that the Body, Mind and Spirit are all so interconnected that failure to take care of any one of them may harm the whole person that we are.  Because of this interconnection, some things that I mentioned in one subject will actually help not only in that subject but in others as well.  We are one unbelievable miracle and creation of God.  We must take care of who we are.

Romans 12: 1-2

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

THE BENEFITS OF DAILY MASS by Deacon Marty McIndoe

               Attending daily mass is so important to me, and I have been reaping the benefits of it for several decades.  I am retired now and it is easy for me to attend the 9:00am mass, right after I am finished with the gym.  When I was working, I had to attend the 7:00am mass and then go to the gym and then to work.  Either way, I made the decision to go to daily mass and to go to the gym.  I figured I needed to be healthy both spiritually and physically.  It is hard to separate the two.  I would like to share with you some of the benefits I have seen by going to daily mass in hopes that you too will try to attend daily mass or that if you already do, you may find support for what you are doing.

1 – Being in the Presence of the Lord.  I try to get to mass about 20 minutes early so that I can just sit in His presence.  I offer Him praise and sit quietly listening for any Word he may give me.  So often I have grown in my love of Him and grown in my ability to learn to trust Him in all things.  Our God is an awesome God and His love for us knows no limits.  It is so good to be in His presence.  It is unbelievable how a short time alone before the Lord in the tabernacle can improve your prayer life all day long.

2 – Listening to His Word.  Every day at mass we have two readings and a responsorial psalm.  The first reading is usually from the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) and the second reading is from the Gospels.  The Church does a wonderful job of presenting cycles of readings so that you basically go through all of the important parts of the whole bible in three years.  Sundays are set on a three year cycle and weekday readings are set on a two year cycle.  If you only attend Sunday mass, you do not get the fullness of the readings cycle.  Beginning each day listening to God’s Word and the homily about it can really impact you all day long.  The Church also follows different Liturgical Seasons such as Advent, Lent, Easter, Pentecost and Ordinary time.  The weekday readings emphasize the importance of these Seasons on a daily basis.  Immersing yourself in God’s Word is power giving.

3 – Receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus.  Jesus made it extremely clear that if we want to be filled with the fullness of life, we need to eat His body and drink His blood (Read John Chapter 6).  I would have to say that His Body and His Blood fill me with graces constantly.   Sometimes there is a reason that I cannot attend the morning mass (snow, Doctor, etc) and when that happens, I feel such a loss.  We are used to taking daily multi-vitamins and daily coffee etc. to pick us up, but to me, nothing picks me up better that receiving Him at daily mass.  The strength given to me by that lasts all day and affects every part of the person that I am.  I believe that I have an abundant life because I receive my Lord every day in the Eucharist.

4 – Experiencing Community.   Daily mass has less people in it than does Sunday mass.  Because of this, you get to meet these people and share your lives with them.  I know this can be true of Sunday mass, but daily mass emphasizes it.  You learn of your fellow parishioners ups and downs and you share a better level of community.  In our parish, every Wednesday we go over to our parish center and share with each other what the readings of the day have meant to us.  We usually have about 20 attend and it is a wonderful experience.  Also, at daily mass you get to know the things that are happening as they happen, not one week later like at Sunday mass.  We always have people who are struggling with health and life issues and daily mass allows us to be more supportive, especially on the days that they need it the most.  Community is a very important gift.

5 – Know your Priests and Deacons.  Daily mass gives us more of an opportunity to know the clergy that support our parishes.  They also get to know you better.  There is usually more time for meeting with the clergy.  You can also get to appreciate the homilies that they give.  You can bring support to them, and they can bring support to you.

               In closing, I cannot emphasize enough how important daily mass is to me.  I feel that I am a much stronger Christian because of it.  I know that I am closer to the Lord, and hear His voice better because of it.  It is also wonderful to know that people all over the world are hearing the same scriptures and receiving the same Lord at the same time I do.  You certainly get a fuller appreciation of the gift that the Church is to the world.  There are so many great books on the mass, but one that really touched me is Scott Hahn’s “The Lamb’s Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth”.  In it we see that we are really sharing in a little bit of heaven every time we attend mass.  I personally want to do that every day.

               I will end with some quotes that Dr. Taylor Marshall found about the Eucharist.  They say so much.  He says: These quotes remind me of the hidden mystery of the Holy Mass. I plan to review them before Mass during Lent. I’d encourage you to do the same if you also struggle with distractions. I may print them out on a card and put them in my missal:

  1. When the Eucharist is being celebrated, the sanctuary is filled with countless angels who adore the divine victim immolated on the altar. ~ St. John Chrysostom
  2. The angels surround and help the priest when he is celebrating Mass. ~ St. Augustine
  3. If we really understood the Mass, we would die of joy. ~ Saint Jean Vianney
  4. The celebration of Holy Mass is as valuable as the death of Jesus on the cross. ~ Saint Thomas Aquinas
  5. Once, St. Teresa was overwhelmed with God’s Goodness and asked Our Lord “How can I thank you?” Our Lord replied, “ATTEND ONE MASS.”
  6. “My Son so loves those who assist at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that, if it were necessary He would die for them as many times as they’ve heard Masses.” Our Lady to Blessed Alan.
  7. When we receive Holy Communion, we experience something extraordinary – a joy, a fragrance, a well-being that thrills the whole body and causes it to exalt. ~ Saint Jean Vianney
  8. There is nothing so great as the Eucharist. If God had something more precious, He would have given it to us. ~ Saint Jean Vianney
  9. When we have been to Holy Communion, the balm of love envelops the soul as the flower envelops the bee. ~ Saint Jean Vianney
  10. It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than to do without Holy Mass. ~ St. Pio of Pietrelcina

That last quote from Saint Pio is profound. The entire cosmos is sustained by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass…

 

 

The Power of God Working at Lourdes by Deacon Marty McIndoe

A Lourdes procession at night.

On February 11th we will be remembering the Appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Lourdes, France, in 1858.  Since then the shrine there has been overflowing with miraculous healings and conversions.  It is one of the most popular and visited shrines in the world.  It all began on February 11th, 1858 when a little 14 year old girl, Bernadette Soubiroux went out to gather wood along with her younger sister,  Toilette and a friend, Jeanne Abadie .  This was a Thursday evening right before Ash Wednesday.  Bernadette saw a very beautiful lady above a rose bush in a grotto called Massabielle.  Only Bernadette saw this woman.   There was a golden cloud around her.  Bernadette was frightened until she saw the smile on the woman’s face.  The woman motioned to Bernadette to come towards her and she did, falling on her knees to pray the rosary.  The woman was later described by Bernadette as the most beautiful lady she has ever seen.  She was dressed in white with a blue sash and carried a rosary.  Bernadette tried to begin the rosary with the sign of the cross, but was unable to move her arms until the lady did so first.   They prayed the rosary together with Bernadette saying all the prayers, but the lady saying only the Glory be’s.  When they finished the rosary, the lady disappeared back in to the cave and the golden cloud disappeared.  Bernadette told her sister what had happened and they decided to keep it secret.

Later that evening, at the family prayer time, Bernadette began to cry and when her mother asked her what was wrong, her sister told the mother what had happened.  The mother told Bernadette that these were just illusions and that she was not to return to Massabielle.  Bernadette couldn’t keep the thoughts of this beautiful woman out of her mind.  Bernadette knew that this woman was kind and gracious and talked about her to her mother.   Bernadette described the woman as “She has the appearance of a young girl of sixteen or seventeen. She is dressed in a white robe, girdled at the waist with a blue ribbon which flows down all around it. A yoke closes it in graceful pleats at the base of the neck. The sleeves are long and tight-fitting. She wears upon her head a veil which is also white. This veil gives just a glimpse of her hair and then falls down at the back below her waist. Her feet are bare but covered by the last folds of her robe except at the point where a yellow rose shines upon each of them. She holds on her right arm a rosary of white beads with a chain of gold shinning like the two roses on her feet.” On Sunday, Bernadette’s mother allowed her to return to the grotto.

Bernadette’s parents and most of the town and even the Chief of Police were very concerned and worried about what was happening.  They made it difficult for Bernadette, but she persevered, going to the site for a total of eighteen apparitions.  People would often accompany her and they saw her face transfigured and illuminated and knew something was happening but did not see it.  Bernadette was promised by the lady that she would have happiness in heaven.  She also called Bernadette to pray for sinners and call people to repent and turn to Jesus.  The lady also gave her a private prayer to pray every day and told her to bring a blessed candle with her whenever she visited the grotto.  This tradition is kept to this very day.

During the ninth apparition the lady told Bernadette to drink from the fountain.  Bernadette was confused as there was no fountain there.  She began scratching the dirt where the lady pointed and water started coming out.  This spring is still flowing today and delivers about four to five liters per minute.  At the eleventh apparition, the lady told Bernadette to tell the priests to build a church on the spot of the grotto.  When Bernadette went to the local pastor, he was not very receptive.  At the fourteenth apparitions, the lady again told Bernadette to tell the local priests to build a chapel there.  Bernadette was afraid of the local pastor because of the way he reacted to her first request, but decided to go back to him.  He told her to tell the lady that he would not follow the dictates of a stranger and that if she wanted anything from him, she would have to identify herself.  During the sixteenth apparition Mary identified herself as “The Immaculate Conception”.  Bernadette had no idea what this meant.  Although our early Church fathers talked about the Immaculate Conception, and theologians debated it for centuries, it was never defined as a dogma until 1854, just four years prior to the apparitions.

During the seventeenth apparition, when Bernadette went in to ecstasy, she unconsciously passed her hand on top of the candle and did not move it.  She didn’t appear to feel it and did not hear the screams of the people around her as they watched the flame shoot through her hand.  After the apparition, they took her to the doctor who could not see any burns at all.  He even touched a lit candle to her and she screamed.  It was at this point the local Prefect closed down the sight.  Bernadette would make one more visit to say goodbye to Mary.

Bernadette joined the Sisters of Charity and remained sickly.  She kept up with her duties and prayers and died on April 16, 1879 at the age of 34.  She was buried at Nevers, France.  Thirty years later, in the presence of two doctors and several nuns, she was exhumed and her coffin was opened.  There was no odor and her body had suffered no decay.  Ten years later, she was again exhumed and found in the same condition.  Her body is now at rest in a gold and glass coffin in the Chapel of Saint Bernadette at the motherhouse in Nevers, France.

Ever since the apparitions, people have been coming to Lourdes to bathe in the Healing waters.  There have been thousands of healings and Saint Pope John Paul II declared February 11th, the memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, as World Day of the Sick.  John Paul II loved Lourdes and made three pilgrimages there during his Pontificate.  Pope Benedict was also close to Lourdes.  He was born on the Feast day of St. Bernadette and then on February 11th the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, he announced his stepping down from the papacy.  Pope Benedict also told us, “The message that Our Lady continues to spread in Lourdes recalls the words that Jesus spoke at the very beginning of his public mission, which we hear several times during these days of Lent: ‘Repent, and believe in the Gospel,’ pray and do penance. Let us accept Mary’s invitation which echoes Christ’s and ask her to obtain for us that we may ‘enter’ Lent with faith, to live this season of grace with inner joy and generous commitment.”

There are so many stories about the miracles and life changing events that occurred at Lourdes.  I would like to leave you one that I find very interesting.  We all have probably seen the movie, “The Song of Bernadette”.   That is based upon a book written by a famous German Jewish writer, Franz Werfel.  He was trying to escape the Nazi holocaust and landed in Lourdes while he was trying to escape to Portugal.  Several Catholic families took him and his wife in to hide them from the Nazis and he kept hearing the stories about Bernadette and all the miracles that happened at Lourdes.  He was so moved by these miracles that he swore that if he and his wife escaped, he would write all about Bernadette.  As soon as he came to the United States, he kept his promise and wrote “The Song of Bernadette”.  This became so popular that they made it in to a movie.  The interesting thing is that in creating this book Werfel honored the Rosary by making the book in five sections with ten chapters to each section, following the structure of the Rosary.  Truly the Blessed Virgin Mary has brought about many healings and miracles as well as leading people away from sin and towards Jesus.

Here is a beautiful Lourdes prayer by Saint Pope John Paul II:

Hail Mary, poor and humble Woman, Blessed by the Most High! Virgin of hope, dawn of a new era, We join in your song of praise, to celebrate the Lord’s mercy, to proclaim the coming of the Kingdom and the full liberation of humanity.

Hail Mary, lowly handmaid of the Lord, Glorious Mother of Christ! Faithful Virgin, holy dwelling-place of the Word, Teach us to persevere in listening to the Word, and to be docile to the voice of the Spirit, attentive to his promptings in the depths of our conscience and to his manifestations in the events of history.

Hail Mary, Woman of sorrows, Mother of the living! Virgin spouse beneath the Cross, the new Eve, Be our guide along the paths of the world. Teach us to experience and to spread the love of Christ, to stand with you before the innumerable crosses on which your Son is still crucified.

Hail Mary, woman of faith, First of the disciples! Virgin Mother of the Church, help us always to account for the hope that is in us, with trust in human goodness and the Father’s love. Teach us to build up the world beginning from within: in the depths of silence and prayer, in the joy of fraternal love, in the unique fruitfulness of the Cross.

Holy Mary, Mother of believers, Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us. Amen.

The Gift of Healing; and some miracles I have witnessed by Deacon Marty McIndoe


               In 1 Corinthians 12 verse 9, St. Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit gives us the gift of healing.  We have heard numerous accounts of Jesus healing people, and even of the disciples healing people, but do we still believe that healings occur?   Is this gift still present to us today?  Do we have to be a Saint in order to have this gift?  I personally believe that this gift is still very present among all of God’s people.  I have seen several miraculous healings with my own eyes.  I would like to take a few moments to look at this precious gift of healing that God has given his people.
               First of all, it used to be assumed that illness and sin go hand in hand.  You just have to read the bible to see how often the two are put together.  I think that we have to be careful to avoid thinking that sin causes sickness.  Sickness seems to just happen to people, some good people, and some sinners.  It doesn’t discriminate between the two.  There is no doubt that some sins might bring about sickness.  For instance, promiscuity and sex outside of marriage may very well bring about sexually transmitted diseases.  Not properly taking care of our body, can also bring about illness. These things are pretty obvious, but most illnesses are caused by various factors that don’t include sin.  We are called to live as holy people, outside of sin, but many who do still get sick.  It just happens.
               We are very fortunate to live in a time when medical science can deal with many illnesses and bring about healing.  God created our body to be able to heal itself in many ways (minor cuts, etc.) but there are so many illnesses that need the help of medical science.  I really believe that God has given to our doctors and nurses and other medical personnel the gift of healing.  He has given them the ability to go for intense schooling to help treat our illnesses.  He heals through the very work that they do and we should recognize that.  Probably the best way to receive any healing is through the combination of medical help and prayer.  A good friend of mine who is undergoing medical treatment just told me that he can feel the power of prayer at work through the treatments.  I think this is so true.  All healings are really miraculous, even those through “normal” medical means.
               Sometimes there seems to be times when the gift of healing is made manifest in very remarkable ways.  I remember one time attending a Priest’s and Deacon’s conference at the Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio.  On one evening of the conference they opened it up to the public to attend a “healing mass”.   There were several priests at that conference who were known for having a healing ministry within the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, and they were going to pray for healings.  I was sitting in a huge tent with fellow priests and deacons and members of the public, when I noticed a man coming in who was blind.  He had two family members with him to help him.  He sat about four chairs away from me.  I remember thinking that he must really be hoping to be healed.  The mass started and after we all received the Eucharist, the priests began leading us in a healing service.  One of the priests went down among the people sprinkling them with Holy Water.  When he came to us I remember feeling the water hit me and I heard a loud crying out sigh from the blind man.  I looked over and he was praising God and dancing in place.  He took off his dark glasses and was looking all over.  The people who brought him were crying.  I kept looking over to him and he began to look through his wife’s purse, picking up individual items and staring at them incredulously.  He had been healed.   It was a remarkable sight to see.
               Another time my wife and I were on retreat at the St. Augustine retreat center on Staten Island.  We were attending a healing retreat given by Father Francis MacNutt.  Fr. Francis was known for having the gift of healing.  There were several healings at that retreat, but one that I really remember was of a young college age girl who walked with difficulty and wore one shoe that had a platform on it making it about six inches higher than the other shoe.  She explained to us all that she had been in a very bad car accident and that they had to operate and take out about six inches of her leg bone that had been crushed.  The raised shoe platform was to make up for that six inches of missing bone.  Even with the platform shoe on, she walked with great difficulty due to other damages to her hip.  Father MacNutt prayed over her for an extended period of time.  I remember hearing someone near her during the prayers saying that they saw the leg growing.   I had to really doubt this and it was getting late so my wife and I went to bed.   The next day we saw this woman walking perfectly normal with no shoes on.  I still remember her playfully, or should I say joyfully, running up and down the stairs.  She had to go around for the rest of that day with no shoes on because now both legs were the same length and the raised shoe was a problem.  I know, this is hard to believe, but I saw it.  I also remember her mother coming to pick her up from the retreat and seeing her back to normal.  She was in shock.   Yes, God does do miraculous and remarkable healings.   I have seen others and heard of others and have no doubt that miraculous healings occur.
               The problem that I have is that I don’t understand why some people are healed and some are not.  Right after that Staten Island retreat, I came home filled with expectant hope of healings for some people that I knew.  One of them was a young teen age boy with cancer.  His parents attended the prayer meeting in our parish and I knew them to be faith filled people.  I remember going over to their house to pray with their son fully confident that he would be healed.  Unfortunately he wasn’t, and died shortly after.   I do believe that in death we receive the greatest healing possible.  Still it is hard to lose a young person like that.  Unfortunately, this has been repeated several times.  I know that God heals, and I also know that death is the door to great healing, fullness of life in Him. 
               We cannot know why some people are healed, and some don’t seem to be.  But we must know that prayers and the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick do work.  We also must trust that in any of our sicknesses and our pains, God can use them to bring about the good.  It is all about a God who showers us with miracles every day because of His great love for us.  No matter what, He is at work in our life and leads us to the fullness of life in Him.

Advent Saints – St. Lucy by Deacon Marty McIndoe

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Advent Saints – St. Lucy by Deacon Marty McIndoe

               During this Advent season we see that each day gets shorter until we reach the Winter Solstice.  There is more darkness and less light.  During Advent we celebrate light, by lighting the Advent candles and awaiting Jesus, the Light of the World.  December 13th we celebrate the Advent Saint of Light, St. Lucy.  She was born in the late 200’s and died in 304 as a Martyr.  There are many legends about her and it is difficult to know exactly how true they all are, but at the very least, she was a young Sicilian girl who gave herself to Jesus as a Virgin.  She was killed for her decision to follow Jesus.

               It appears that St. Lucy had a mother who arranged a marriage for her to a pagan man, but St. Lucy said that she wanted to remain a Virgin and give herself completely to Jesus.  Since her mother was very stubborn about this and pushed Lucy towards marriage, Lucy turned in prayer to St. Agatha for assistance.   St. Agatha appeared to Lucy and told her that she could persuade her mother by showing her the power of Jesus.  St. Agatha said that Lucy’s mother would be healed from a serious illness that plagued her.  Lucy’s mother was healed and she committed her life to Jesus.  She stopped forcing the marriage and allowed St. Lucy to give her marriage dowry to the poor.

               The man that Lucy was to marry was upset by this and told the governor, Paschalis, that Lucy was a Christian (illegal at that time).  The governor then wanted to defile Lucy and sent troops to her home to carry her off to a brothel.  Lucy refused to go and the troops were unable to move her.  They even hitched a team of oxen to her, but she could not be moved.  At that point they piled wood around her to burn her, but the wood refused to burn.  They finally resorted to using their swords and initially gouged out her eyes and then killed her.  Later, when her body was being prepared for burial, they noticed that her eyes had been restored.

               Lucy was venerated from the very early days of the Church.  Her body remained in Sicily for about 400 years before being transferred to Abruzzi, Italy.  In 972 her body was moved to St. Vincent’s Church in Metz and divided up and several pieces of her body can be found in Rome, Naples, Verona, Lisbon, Milan, Germany, France and Sweden.  Her name is mentioned in Eucharistic Prayer I, the oldest of our Eucharistic prayers.  St. Lucy is the Patron Saint of the Blind and all eye diseases.

               I have found only one quote that is attributed to Lucy.  It is, “No one’s body is polluted so as to endanger the soul if it has not pleased the mind. If you were to lift my hand to your idol and so make me offer against my will, I would still be guiltless in the sight of the true God, who judges according to the will and knows all things. If now, against my will, you cause me to be polluted, a twofold purity will be gloriously imputed to me. You cannot bend my will to your purpose; whatever you do to my body, that cannot happen to me.”
Saint Lucy of Syracuse

 

HALO Missions – Africa – 2016 by Deacon Marty McIndoe

It is amazing what can be accomplished in a short period of time and with limited resources, and with God’s blessings.   Last year, two of my good friends decided to start a local charity that would bring Medical and Educational help to orphan children of the world.   We started our first mission in 2015 by going to Zambia in Central Africa.   We chose Zambia because it has one of the highest concentrations of orphan children in the world.   We shared our vision last year and had two local fundraisers, one in Patchogue and one in East Islip.  Thanks to the generosity of local people, four of us, the two co-founders, Dr. James Bopp and Christopher McGuire, Brother Jim (Nurse) and myself (Chaplain) went to Zambia (we paid our own travel, hotel and food so all the money  collected could go directly to the orphans).  With the help of Teen Missions, we were able to treat hundreds of children for various medical illnesses.   We also were able to help 109 orphans have the means to attend school and we helped finance an addition to the school.   Although we accomplished a great deal, we also saw so much need.  We knew that the children and their caretakers needed more than just medical treatments.  They also suffered from many dental and vision problems.   We were determined to help them with that.  Again with local fundraisers and asking for volunteer dentists, we assembled a team of six dentists and made arrangement with SEE International to give us vision help for our 2016 misssion.  The team is now working in Zambia and I want to share with you some pictures and comments that Christopher McGuire was able to send out.   We also, this year, sent ahead clothing for the children, as the need was so severe.  We also,  gave the children American flags so they could see who were helping them.   Please continue to pray for the team and the patients they will serve.  If you would like to help financially, please go to http://www.halomissions.org        God is so good.

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HALO Missions is off to Johannesburg and on to Ndola.

 

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42 hours door to door. Here is HALO dental team the next morning just before getting to work. Led by Dr. Wynn from Stony brook University. Devin, Justin, Michael and Nichole. The first dentists many of their patients have ever seen. Pulling many infected teeth these doctors were lifesavers.

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The kids love the younger dentists. Here fooling around on snap chat swapping faces.
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Long day today. 340 Dental patients. 240 medical patients. Tomorrow the ophthalmic starts cataract surgeries if all goes well.
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Hard at work and then taking a break to hand out clothes.
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Hicksville Dentist Michael Criss spent his birthday giving his great talents to the extreme poor. We took him to celebrate at a Zambian restaurant. If you’ve never had Zambian pizza, don’t.
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Dr James Bopp (medical) takes a break from treating patients to provide clothing to the orphans.
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Today Christopher McGuire  left the medical team and travelled with Oscar Chama of Teenmissions by bus with 13 candidates to drive to Lufwanyama Hospital, which is about 3.5 hours from our location. The hospital is new and modern for Zambia, but devoid of patients and doctors, making it a virtual ghost town. (The patients have no way to get to the hospital and can’t afford the care even if they arrived.). Since our last visit we labored to gain the approval of the hospital and the government to use the facility for cataract surgeries. Doctor James Bopp worked tirelessly with See International and Argentinian surgeon Dr. Stone to make this a reality. With so many logistical hurdles, including obtaining and transporting the equipment, today Dr. Stone started conducting the procedures. I arrived (Dr. Bopp was treating patients) just in time to see the first cataract surgery performed today and to take these pictures. Dr. Stone will perform approximately 15 more surgeries before he leaves and train the Teenmissions staff to screen candidates for future missions. (The clinic was overrun with dental and medical patients, with over 600 seen).
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Children with children.   They are so beautiful and filled with life.  Look at those eyes.
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Patients got American flags. Here’s a Zambian girl named charity.
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Best part of the day was handing out clothes. with Chris McGuire
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Before and After
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We wanted to make sure the children are aware of the best America has to offer.
Please continue to pray for this mission.  If you can help financially, please help us to help these (and other) orphans.  Go to http://www.halomissions.org for more information.

12 Facts about Saint Padre Pio by Deacon Marty McIndoe

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The incorrupt body of Saint Padre Pio.

1 – BIRTH AND FAMILY:  Padre Pio was born Francesco Forgione in Pietrelcina, Italy on May 25, 1887. He was the fourth of eight children of Grazio Maria Forgione and his wife, Maria Giuseppa De Nunzio.  His family was very religious and attended daily mass.

2 – SHEPHERD AND CAPUCHIN PREPARATION:  In his youth, Padre Pio tended a handful of sheep. At the age of ten he contracted typhoid fever and nearly died. After his recovery he wished to become a Capuchin friar, and his father thereafter spent several years in sailing back and forth to America (a common practice at that time) to obtain work in order to finance more schooling for Padre Pio, in preparation for the priesthood.

3 – CHILDHOOD VISIONS AND VICTIM OF DIVINE LOVE:  In childhood Padre Pio experienced paranormal visions with such frequency that he took the episodes for granted and assumed that others experienced similar phenomena. He confided this information only later in life to a priest and was surprised to learn that such occurrence is rare. Padre Pio also suffered from a desire to be a “victim of divine love,” a religious concept whereby a person wishes intensely to endure constant and severe suffering, to atone for the failings of mankind.

4 – BECOMES A FRANCISCAN (CAPUCHIN):  On January 6, 1903 at the age of 16, he departed to the town of Morcone to join the friary of Saints Philip and James of the Capuchin Order of the Friars Minor, a “mendicant” order. (Capuchins live in poverty by design; they own nothing and live essentially as beggars in the world.) To symbolize their poverty Capuchins never shave their faces and never wear shoes—only open leather sandals. They never wear hats but attach brown woolen hoods to their garments. They spend a significant portion of each day in prayer, maintain long periods of silence, and always travel in pairs. At the friary, Padre Pio lived in a cell furnished with a table, chair, washstand, and water jug; he slept on a cornhusk mattress. He received the Capuchin garments in a ceremony on January 22, 1903. On that day the former Francesco Forgione adopted the name of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina.  As a symbol of austerity, Capuchin friars never used surnames, thus for legal purposes Padre Pio signed his name as “Padre Pio of Pietrelcina al secolo Francesco Forgione.”  He took the name of “Pio” in honor of Pope Pius I, whose relic he often saw at his local chapel.

5 – SUFFERING SERVANT ORDAINED A PRIEST:  Throughout his lifetime Padre Pio suffered from a severe but undiagnosed stomach disorder that caused persistent pain and vomiting. Beginning in December of 1908 his superiors sent him home on numerous occasions. Inexplicably the symptoms disappeared each time he departed the friary; transfers to friaries at other locations failed to alleviate the symptoms. At the age of 23 he traveled from his hometown of Pietrelcina to the cathedral of Benevento in Morcone. There Archbishop Paolo Schinosi ordained Padre Pio as a Roman Catholic priest on August 10, 1910.

6 – RECIEVES STIGMATA:  Padre Pio developed marks of stigmata initially in 1910 at San Nicandro.  A doctor examined Padre Pio and diagnosed tuberculosis of the skin. Following the medical diagnosis Padre Pio returned to his hometown for a time. On October 28, 1911, he moved to the friary of San Nicandro at Venafro, where Padre Agostino was vicar. Padre Pio was personally humiliated by the painful markings and kept his hands hidden at all times. The wounds disappeared for a time, only to reappear more acutely nearly a decade later.  The Stigmata reflects the wounds of Jesus on the cross.  The hands and feet and side all bleed.   Padre Pio was the first Priest to receive the Stigmata (St. Francis of Assisi was a Deacon).

7 – VISIONS AND BI-LOCATION AND LEVITATION:  Padre Pio received visitations from the Virgin Mary, Jesus, and angels. In addition to the visitations and stigmata, Padre Pio was reportedly prone to bi-location phenomena, appearing in two locations simultaneously. The most remarkable of these reported incidents occurred on January 18, 1905 shortly before midnight. Padre Pio was in the choir at the friary when, according to his description, his mind traveled to a location in Udine where a child was being born prematurely just moments before the death of her father. In 1923 he met the girl and “recognized” her. The girl’s mother recalled very clearly the death of her husband and the vision of a Capuchin monk in Udine on the night when the girl was born.  Also, Padre Pio had been observed levitating during a period of prayerful ecstasy.

8 – PADRE PIO AS AN ARMY PRIVATE:  With the outbreak of World War I in November 1914, many Capuchins were drafted into the Italian army. Padre Pio was drafted into the 10th Company of the Italian Medical Corps in Naples, under the name of Private Francesco Forgione. His stomach discomfort continued, and army doctors diagnosed chronic bronchitis. They granted him a medical leave of absence, and he returned to Pietrelcina.

9 – STIGMATA FOR LIFE:  Beginning in August 1918, Padre Pio developed permanent, painful stigmata that bled intermittently for the next 50 years and disappeared only a few days before his death. A series of doctors examined the wounds of Padre Pio and verified the existence of the condition, but left no written comment or explanation. Luigi Romanelli, chief physician of the City Hospital of Barletta, examined the priest’s wounds five times over the course of one year. Professor Giuseppe Bastianelli, physician to Pope Benedict XV agreed that the wounds indeed existed but made no other comment. Angelo Maria Merla of San Giovanni Rotondo noted that the wounds were not tubercular in origin. The wounds bled severely at times, although medical examiners reported no fever, nor anemia or change of blood pressure associated with the condition. According to witnesses the wounds of Padre Pio emitted a distinctively fragrant odor, and all other abrasions to Padre Pio’s body healed normally during those years, including an incision to repair a hernia.  As with the earlier incident, Padre Pio felt humiliation at the visible stigmata, but stated nevertheless that he welcomed the pain for all mankind; his greatest wish was to die.

10 – POPULARITY, VATICAN INTERVENTION AND PROPHECY OF A FUTURE POPE:   Padre Pio became very popular with the people he encountered.  They began to see that he was capable of performing miracles.  Many healings were attributed to him.  His popularity became a source of concern for the Church and the Vatican began to restrict his activities to minimize public interaction. Padre Pio himself was uncomfortable with his newfound popularity and the attention he received because of his stigmata. A Church investigation into his stigmata concluded that his condition was not faked.  By 1934, the Vatican began to change its attitude towards Padre Pio and he was again allowed to perform public duties. He was allowed to preach, despite never being officially licensed by the Church to do so. Pope Pius XI encouraged people to visit him.  In 1947, Fr. Karol Wojtyla visited Padre Pio who prophetically told him he would rise to the highest post in the Church.” Fr. Karol Wojtyla became Pope John Paul II in 1978.

11- INTERNATIONAL FAME:  Padre Pio became internationally famous. He was known for his piety, charity and the quality of his preaching. He famously advised, “Pray, hope and don’t worry.”  Besides his stomach problems and stigmata, he had other illnesses as well, including cancer which was miraculously healed after just two treatments.  However his arthritis, which plagued him in his later years, never went away.

12 – DEATH AND SAINTHOOD:  Padre Pio died of an apparent heart attack at the friary of Our Lady of Grace in the Italian village of San Giovanni Rotondo on the morning of September 23, 1968. Over 100,000 people attended his funeral.  After his death, the friars and other associates were eager to begin the lengthy process of canonization, whereby the mystic might be named a saint of the Catholic Church. Pope John Paul II beatified the memory of Padre Pio at a Mass on May 2, 1999 in St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City, as a final step in preparation for sainthood.  Pope John Paul II recognized Padre Pio as a Saint on June 16, 2002.  Over 300,000 people attended.  His feast day is September 23. He is the patron of civil defense volunteers, adolescents, and the village of Pietrelcina.

Based on information from encyclopedia.com and Catholic.org.  Photo by Doug Lawrence

 

 

 

Praying for Healing – by Deacon Marty McIndoe

Israel 600The Pool of Bethesda (with the five porticoes) where Jesus healed a man who had been infirm for 38 years.  It is interesting that the Romans built their own temple right next to it that was for their god of healing, Aesculapius.

I believe very strongly in the power of prayer.  When anyone asks me to pray for them, or for a loved one, I immediately tell them that I will.  So often these prayers are for some kind of healing to take place.  Since my own real conversion to the Lord in 1972, I have seen so many of these prayers answered; but I have also seen so many that seem to be unanswered.  It often appears to be quite a confusing process.  If we pray for someone, and they are healed, it is fantastic.  If we pray for someone and they are not healed, it seems so sad.  A big question to ask is, do we give someone false hope in saying that they may receive a healing?  Another question is what do they think of God who sometimes seems to heal people and sometimes seems to ignore them?  The Church tells us that God wants us to pray to Him for help in every situation.  Scriptures are full of examples of miraculous healings at the hands of Jesus and at the hands of the Apostles and other members of the early Church.  Throughout the ages we have had so many accounts of Saints who have brought healings to people.  It seems that every place where there has been a Marian Apparition, healings abound.  There is no doubt that miraculous healings do occur, but certainly not apparently in every case.

In my own life I have seen miraculous healing occur in me, as a result of prayer.   Around 1980, I went for an annual checkup.  This was done in a clinic where they did all of the body fluid tests, and X-rays and then sent a report to my personal physician.  A few days after the tests, my physician called me and told me he wanted to see me in his office as soon as possible.  I went in and he told me that the chest X-ray that they took showed a mass growing between my heart and my lung.  He also told me that since this report came from a clinic where a lot of people were treated at the same time, a mistake could have been made.  He had me go for a new chest X-ray.  The new X-ray confirmed that there was a sizeable mass growing between my heart and my lung.  My doctor then referred me to a thoracic surgeon.  By now I was quite concerned and I asked my local parish charismatic prayer group to pray for me.  They all gathered around me and laid hands upon me and prayed for a healing.  I went to the thoracic surgeon and he did another X-ray, this time in his own office.  He examined the X-ray and confirmed again the mass being there and said he wanted to schedule me for surgery.  I asked him if it was cancerous and he told me that he really wouldn’t know until a biopsy was done on the removed mass.  I was scheduled for surgery about two weeks away.  I again went to the weekly Charismatic prayer meeting and again they laid hands on me and prayed over me.  A few days before the surgery was scheduled, the surgeon sent me to an X-ray facility for what they called a triangulation X-ray.  He said he needed this to determine the exact depth and location of the mass so he could operate properly.  This was before MRI’s.  After that X-ray was taken, he called me back to his office and told me that somehow the mass had totally disappeared.  He was dumbfounded as to why, but I told him that I had been prayed over for a healing.  He said that was the only explanation he could offer.  He scheduled me for follow up X-rays (I figured that all these X-rays would cause cancer, but I had to do it) and none of the follow ups, to this very day, have shown the mass re-appearing.  I felt very strongly that it was the Lord who had healed me because of the prayers I went through.  God is so good.   I have had other healings in my life too, but this was the most dramatic, and best documented.

I have also witnessed many miraculous healings of others.  In 1982, I was attending a Priest’s and Deacon’s Conference at the Franciscan University of Steubenville.  Although this was open only to Priests and Deacons and Seminarians, on Thursday evening they had a Healing Mass and opened it to the general public.  Several priests, known for healing ministries, were there and concelebrated the mass.  Fr. Ralph DiOrio was one of those priests and he came down walking among the people sprinkling them with Holy Water while prayers for healing were being said.  I was sitting in a row with several priests and deacons and some laypeople.  One nearby man, who came in with sunglasses and a red tipped walking cane, was helped to his seat by his wife.  It was obvious that he was totally blind.  When the Holy Water landed upon him, he let out a large cry and immediately took off his glasses and started looking around.  He kept exclaiming, “I can see, I can see”.  He and his wife were overjoyed and their eyes were filled with tears of joy.  Throughout the rest of the evening the man kept looking all around in wonder.  I especially remember him looking through his wife’s pocketbook and looking at various items and pictures.  I am not sure if he had ever seen during his lifetime.  He acted as if this was the first time he had vision.  It was a very wonderful evening with many healings being attested to.

Another time my wife and I were on a retreat at Mount Saint Augustine in Staten Island.  Fr. Francis MacNutt was leading the weekend.  He was known for the many healings that occurred when he prayed with people.  There was a young woman in her early twenties that was there who had difficulty in walking.  She had one normal shoe and one shoe that had about a six inch lift on it.  She shared that she had been in a bad auto accident and that her leg bone was so damaged that they had to remove six inches from it.  She also suffered from some hip injuries.  She walked on her own with the lift shoe, but not very well.  Fr. MacNutt prayed over her and as hard as it is to believe, her leg started extending. By the time the prayers were over, she had to remove the lift and her regular shoe and walk around barefoot.  She not only walked, she ran around leaping and jumping for joy.  I remember that for the rest of the weekend she had to go around barefoot because her legs were now the same length.  At the end of the weekend, her mom came to pick her up and the minute she saw her daughter leaping and running around in bare feet, she completely broke down in pure joy.  If I hadn’t been there to see the whole thing, I probably wouldn’t have believed it.  But it HAPPENED!  God is good.

I have worked on many healing prayer teams over the last 40 plus years and I have seen many other healings.  I have visited Marian Shrines and have seen healings and the evidence of healings.  I have been at other conventions and retreats and seen healings.  I know, without any doubt, that they do exist.  BUT, I have also prayed with many people who have not been healed.  I find it so difficult to understand why.  Shortly after the healing of the woman with the shortened leg, I came home and went to pray with the teenage son of a member of our prayer group.  This young boy had advanced bone cancer.  I felt for sure that if we kept praying over him, he would be healed.  Unfortunately, he never was, and he died at seventeen.  I kept asking the big WHY?   I don’t pretend to have the answer to that.   Why does healing occur in some people, and not in others?    I really dislike it when people say that it is because they do not have enough faith.  In my experience, this is not true.  Many people with very strong faith have not been healed.  We can only answer the question by stating the obvious….we cannot understand the plans of God.  We can only trust in Him.   We also limit ourselves to what we experience.  Our experience is the limited life span that we as humans normally have.  However, our God has given us the gift of unlimited life for all of eternity.  A child, who dies young, even though we see it as very tragic, is going to live forever.  Our own lifespan now, whether it is only a few hours or over one hundred years, is miniscule compared to all of eternity.  That person who is “taken away” from us will be reunited with us for all eternity.  That is what the Good News is all about.  We have LIFE now, so we can LIVE forever.

So where does that leave us when we need healing or when we are asked to pray for healing?  First of all, we should depend upon the medical profession to help us.  God has given many gifts to the doctors and nurses and others who care for us.  Secondly, when there is serious illness, we should go to our local priest and ask to be given the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.   In addition to these we should pray and ask others to pray for us.   One of the people that we should ask to pray for us is the Blessed Virgin Mary.  She loves her children so very much and wants the best for them.  Her prayers for us are so powerful.   We should also realize that when we don’t see an apparent miracle, God, through our prayers, has been at work in the situation.  Sometimes the healing is more on the spiritual side then on the physical side.  Our prayers work, but not always the way we think that they should.

I believe that we are always called to be filled with the HOPE of a MIRACLE and always continue on in praying for those who need it.  We should pray for the fullness of life and pray for the best of life.  But, we should also know that God has a plan that is much better than we can imagine.  We need to be able to say, “Jesus, I trust in you”.   His plan for us is for all of us to live together with Him forever and forever and forever.  God is good!

As We Forgive Those Who Trespass Against Us – by A.J. Avila

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I stared at the computer screen. According to Facebook, my eighth grade teacher, Sister Ann (not her real name), had died at the age of 99.

Former students posted about what a wonderful teacher she had been, what a sweet person she was.

Which she was—to everybody except me.

In about the fourth grade, I began being bullied by some of the other girls in my class.

I couldn’t figure out what had caused this shift in attitude. We were still the same girls as before, weren’t we? Yet, all of a sudden they called me stupid and ugly. Despite my prowess with a basketball, I was always the last chosen for a team—and even then the team captains argued over who had to take me.

Of course my athletic skill had nothing to do with it. It was all about popularity, and it was made abundantly clear that I was at the bottom of the pecking order.

That was difficult enough, but in the eighth grade, Sister Ann joined in the bullying.

I don’t know what it was about me that set Sister off. Maybe I reminded her of someone who had done her wrong in her past. Maybe it was because she’d had my older sister as a student a few years before, and Sis could be quite a handful.

Whatever the reason, she would scream at me, her face red and her body trembling with anger, over something as trivial as a book cover. I could get into trouble for the horrible crime of saying “Excuse me, Sister” when I wanted to ask her a question.

I could not talk to my mother about this. She had already told me the bullying from the other girls was my fault. “You must have done something,” she said. But for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what I had done to invite such animosity.

[SIDENOTE: After graduation I did find out the reason. From overhearing three of the girls talking about me behind my back, I discovered—to my utter shock—that they hated me because they thought I was prettier than they were. I understand now why envy is one of the Deadly Sins. It’s toxic. It’s the one sin that, as Dr. Peter Kreeft puts it, doesn’t even make you happy while you’re committing it.]

There was no way I could tell my mother that a teacher, a nun!, was doing this to me. Most likely she wouldn’t believe me, and even if she did, I would get blamed.

So I suffered in silence.

Eventually graduation rolled around, and I was released from the abuse. By that time my self-esteem had dropped to near zero. The pain followed me into adulthood.

It didn’t take much to trigger the anguish and an abundance of tears. Just seeing a photo or hearing a song from that time period could set me off. It wasn’t an everyday occurrence, but about once a year again the tears would flow.

“It was so long ago,” my husband said. “Why can’t you get over it?”

That was a good question. Why couldn’t I? I knew I had to forgive Sister Ann and my other tormentors, so I did. I forgave them again and again. And again. And again. And yet again.

Why did it still hurt so much?

Then one day I discovered a way to let go. I was in pain, wasn’t I? What are you, as a Catholic, supposed to do with your pain?

You’re supposed to offer it up.

And then, like a light bulb brightening over my head, it occurred to me to offer up my pain for the souls of my tormentors.

When you think about it, this is what Jesus did for us on the cross. Those were my sins that crucified Him, yet He offered up his agony for the sake of my soul.

This kind of forgiveness didn’t make the pain stop immediately. But it did diminish it. Every time the anguish returned, I offered up the pain for my abusers. And every time I did that, the pain lessened.

So now, there I was, staring at Facebook. Sister Ann had died.

“My all-time favorite teacher!” one poster gushed.

If anything was going to evoke another crying fit, this was it.

And I did feel pain. But it was just a twinge.

What kind of comment could I leave? “Praying for the repose of her soul,” I typed.

In every Our Father, we recite, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” It is my fervent prayer that God forgives me the cruelties I’ve inflicted on others the same way I’ve learned to forgive those who inflicted them on me.

Visit A.J. Avila at her website: https://reflections911.wordpress.com/author/ajavilanovels/

Miracles from Heaven by Deacon Marty McIndoe

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“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”   Albert Einstein

 

My wife and I just saw the movie, “Miracles from Heaven” starring Jennifer Garner, Kylie Rogers, Martin Henderson and Queen Latifah.  It was certainly a movie that I would recommend to anyone.  It is based on a true story about an initially happy Christian family living in Texas.  When the movie opens, everything seems as it should be.  There is good family communication, a beautiful farm that they live on, and every Sunday they attend an active Evangelical Church with good music and worship.  The father even says to the mother, “this is the good life”.  Then, the ten year old daughter, Anna, becomes ill.  She has a rare, incurable, digestive disorder where her body cannot handle food.  This disorder causes her severe pain, and there doesn’t seem any hope from the medical world.

The girl’s mother, played extremely well by Jennifer Garner, will do anything to help her daughter.  She struggles with doctors until she finally forces herself upon a specialist in this field at Boston Children’s Hospital.  Even this specialist doesn’t give her much hope.  The mother never gives up on her daughter, but does give up on her faith in God.  The family exhausts all of their financial resources trying to bring comfort to their daughter.  The scenes where she is suffering so badly, while the family cannot do anything to help her, are quite intense and you certainly feel the mother’s anguish.

Then, something happens.  The daughter is climbing a tall dead tree in their yard in Texas.  A branch breaks and Anna plummets thirty feet in to the hollow tree.  It takes rescuers many hours to get her out.  When they do, she is brought unconscious to the hospital.  When Anna awakens, the symptoms of the incurable disease are gone.  Anna shares with her mom how God spoke to her in heaven about how he was healing her.  I don’t want to get in to too much detail because I don’t want to spoil the story for you, but her healing is seen as a real miracle by all involved, including the doctors.  This miracle brings back the faith of her mom as well as the faith of many involved.

At the very end, the mother speaks to their church and says some things that are very important.  She recognizes the miraculous healing of her daughter, but also shows how she saw miracles happen throughout the whole journey involving many different people in what would be seen as doing ordinary things.  There is a lot of power there, especially when they flash back on these things.  After the movie ends, they have pictures and videos of the real family.  Make sure you stay for those.

As Catholics, we believe strongly in miracles.  Our history is full of them.  We also know that miracles don’t always happen in the way we want them.  To me, the strength of this movie is not just the actual miraculous healing, but in the family and friends and what they did during the difficult times.  God works miracles in so many ways.  More often than not, he works them through every day, ordinary actions of love.  I would really suggest you take the time to see this movie.  It is so much better than so many movies we are exposed to.  The faith, love, and gift of family and friendship that this movie offers is so refreshing.  God bless.