Healing Through the Mass
by Father Robert DeGrandis, S.S.J.
Anthropologists tell us that people of all faiths, all religions, have always had a sacred place. The earliest holy places were piles of stones erected as memorials in places where God met us. The later sacrificial altars were built of earth or stone. In the Greek, the word "altar" means "a place of sacrifice." In the Old Testament we see God calling His people to a sacred place. "When all the work undertaken by Solomon for the temple of the Lord had been completed, he brought in the dedicated offerings of his father David, putting the silver, the gold and all the other articles in the treasuries of the house of God" (2 Chr 5: 1). The priests consecrated themselves and stood near the altar with cymbals, harps, trumpets and other instruments. Singers praised the Lord, singing: "Give thanks to the lord for he is good, for his mercy endures forever." The priests were not able to continue, because "...the Lord's glory filled the house of God" (v. 14). They were overwhelmed by the power of the Lord. The Lord is present with His people today in sacred places, too. Our Catholic churches are sacred because of the healing presence of Jesus.
In ancient days the glory descended on the temple that contained only symbols of the Lord's presence. How much more should we experience the healing presence of the Lord with the Eucharistic presence of God in our own churches.
From time to time many of us experience anxiety and agitation before walking into a church. However, when we sense the presence of the Lord, all the tension and anxiety disappear. I have had that same experience many times, especially in the Church of the Immaculate Conception, the Jesuit church on Baronne Street in New Orleans, Louisiana. Sometimes I visit that church on a hot summer day. The coolness and quietness of the church speak powerfully of the Lord's waiting presence. His presence is felt in that church because it is a long-time gathering place for people of prayer.
As you enter a Catholic church, consider the healing elements in the environment. The crucifix on the wall brings to mind the sacrificial love of Jesus, made powerfully evident in the Mass. The Reconciliation Room is a reminder of the healing power of forgiveness. The themes of the stained glass windows and the Stations of the Cross are reminders of the unconditional love of Christ. We need signs and symbols to help us focus upon deep truths of our faith and fathom something of their mystery.
Throughout the centuries the healings and miracles of Christ have remained a part of the collective faith of the Christian community. In the timelessness of God, experiences of faith and healing and acts of love still linger like fragrant incense in our churches and contribute to the sense of God's presence.
A woman told me that when she visited a Catholic church after many years of absence, she felt like she had truly "come home." As she sat in the back of the church in quiet prayer, just soaking up the atmosphere, she realized that the deep loneliness that had plagued her life for years, was actually homesickness for God and the faith of her childhood. When she entered the church the prayerful environment had a drawing power that captured her heart again. We are "at home" in our churches because of the presence of Jesus. Our Catholic churches are healing places because of the presence of Jesus in the assembly, in the proclaiming of His word, and in the Eucharist.
During this Year of God the Father, the Lord is inviting you to come to Him During this Year of God the Father, the Lord is inviting you to come to Him through his Son. He invites you to be open to His healing love, to come and worship with Him. You may find that the Lord will speak to you in His sacred place and draw you into a powerful experience of healing through the holy sacrifice of the Mass.
What does "blessing" mean to you? Some definitions of blessing include: "To invoke divine care for; to confer prosperity or happiness upon; to dedicate; to approve; to endorse." As we reflect upon God's covenant of blessing through Abraham and into the New Covenant, we see that God has made tremendous provision for blessing His people.
We all need to experience blessing. We need continually to receive it from our Heavenly Father, and we need to be givers of blessings to others. We need to know that we are deeply valued, that we are important. We need to communicate to others that they have high value.
Consider the scars of the unblessed in our society. Consider the abandoned, the outcast, the homeless, and the unloved. Reflect on the destructive behavior of those who run here and there searching for acceptance, longing for a blessing but experiencing curses instead.
Through the Mass we can enter into the life of Jesus in a powerful way, and experience the curses in our lives being changed to blessings (Deut 23:5). The Lord says in Joel 2:25:" I will repay you for the years which the locust has eaten, the grasshopper, the devourer, and the cutter..."The blessing goes deeper into the layers of pain in our lives the more we place ourselves in the presence of the One who blesses. For He is a God of restoration. He is a God of blessing.
Each part of the Mass aids in the healing and blessing process: The Introductory Rite, the Liturgy of the Word, the Liturgy of the Eucharist, and the Concluding Rite. Enter into each part intimately, deeply and honestly. Open up and receive the full effects our Lord intends for you to receive. Go to church with great faith that the Lord wants to heal you far beyond your expectations. He wants to set you free and use you as an instrument of His healing love to set others free.
arrive early to prepare for his blessing. Prepare yourself for the communal liturgy with private prayer. We are called to carry that blessing to others, and thus extend the ministry of Jesus. There are people alive today who should be dead, but because there was someone who knew how to pray effectively, how to bless, they are still alive. Many people have been healed of alcoholism, drug addiction, mental illness and major physical diseases because Christians prayed.
The vision of a renewed Church is achieved when people realize that God is love. He loves us unconditionally; provides for our needs; equips us and sends us forth in His name to pray with and serve others. We are nourished and sent forth to "preach and heal." When Christians take hold of their vocation and start praying with others, renewal within the Church will increase.
In preparation for the Penitential Rite, visualize yourself sitting quietly in a favorite place, contemplating your relationship with the Lord. As you confess to God your weaknesses and failures, ask Him for insights about why you do the things you do. Be patient with yourself. As we forgive, and receive His forgiveness, then we can soak up the Mercy. Mercy means love and forgiveness in action.
In the Gloria (one of the earliest praise songs of the Church) we enter into the praise of Jesus before the Father. We join the earthly priesthood with the heavenly priesthood and together acknowledge God's perfection, His works, and His benefits. As Catholics we tend to be petition-oriented, which has the unfortunate effect of keeping us as the center of our prayer. In praise, Jesus is the center of our prayer. Praise Him! "Let everything that has breath praise him" (Ps 150:6).
Be receptive to the word of the Lord in the Liturgy. "Act on this word. If all you do is listen to it, you are deceiving yourselves" (Jas 1:22). As the liturgy of the Word begins, ask the Holy Spirit to speak through the scripture verses with a word of instruction, insight, understanding, healing. Be open to receive that intimate word.
The director of the Theologate for the Laity in Colombo, Sri Lanka, told a news reporter one time that the Catholic Church should give renewed attention to the Apostolate of healing, to counter the lure of the sects that offer powerful healing services. One thing that draws people to those services is the powerful preaching, accompanied by signs and wonders. Homilies that primarily say what Jesus has done for us will offer healing and hope: He loves us, He died for us, He forgives us; the gift is ours. What homily in the past month has touched you deeply? How did you respond to it?
As we stand and say the Creed, we stand and make a decision for Christ in our lives. Just as non-Catholic evangelists ask people to make a decision to accept Jesus in an "altar call," we , as Catholics, make our profession of faith during Mass. When we recite the Creed, we are asking the Father for the Grace to consent to have Him possess us and use us.
When we articulate the Creed we open ourselves to the Holy Spirit and renew our baptismal promises and confirmation vows. Now the Holy Spirit can move into our spirit in a greater way, a more intense way. We have freed the Holy Spirit to flow in a powerful way. Let's be open to the healing power of this great prayer of the Church.
Jesus calls us to pray for the world in crisis: to intercede for leaders of nations, church and civil people. After making our general intercessions we can pray for specific needs of a few people in the church that day. We should pray for everyone in the world who is in pain and those who have died. Pray for your healing and peace in our lives. Sometimes we come to church and pray for peace in the world while we are not at peace with our families and ourselves. It must start close to home.
As you come to Holy Communion, expect the Lord to minister to you. Expect the Lord to heal you. "…you have believed, so let this be done for you" (Mt 8:13, JB). God is love, and He wants to heal us more than we want to be healed. On earth, the closest we come to His marvelous, awesome presence is in the Eucharist during reception of Holy Communion. He comes to heal us physically, spiritually, and emotionally and psychologically. He assures us that He wants us to rise and live with Him forever.
In the Concluding Rite the blessing of the priest stirs up the sacrament of confirmation that mandates us to share Jesus Christ with others-by example, by praying with them and by any means the Lord suggests. As people share their stories, others will be opened to receive prayer for healing, especially spiritual healing. Indeed many today have lost faith, but are waiting for an opportunity to experience God's love and presence.
The whole thrust of evangelization is rooted in the Eucharist. I pray that the Lord will continue to unfold in our hearts an understanding of the great gift of the Eucharist. I pray that the wonder of this great gift will rise in our spirits and bring great faith in the healing power of the Mass.
Lord Jesus, we thank You that You have called us by name; You called us to Mass to heal us, to liberate us, to set us free. You called us to empower us to heal the broken hearted, hear us. Lord, let our healing be so deep that we walk out of Mass new creations, new people, healed in body, mind and spirit. Thank You, Heavenly Father, for loving us so much. Thank You, Jesus, for not bearing to leave us, and thus sending the Holy Spirit. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for guiding us into the freedom of children of God.
Fr. Robert DeGrandis, S.S.J. is a member of the Society of St. Joseph. This article is condensed from Healing Through the Mass by Robert DeGrandis with Linda Schubert. Fr. DeGrandis will be at St. Cecilia’s Church, San Francisco, with his healing ministry Masses on May 7, 8, & 9, 1999. A copy of the healing "Forgiveness Prayer" by Fr. Robert DeGrandis will be given to everyone who donates to the Friends of the Good News during February, March and April of 1999. Send a tax deductible donation to Friends of the Good News, Attn: Fr. Joe Landi, 2555 17th Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94116. Please mention this offer. Father DeGrandis, the author of 33 books on the power of healing, is a member of the Society of St. Joseph, serving the world wide charismatic Catholic community.