Let me get this over with quickly. Sometimes it’s hard for us all to admit our faults and failings to others.
However, I hereby admit that at times . . .
. . . I can be stubborn.
. . . I can be selfish.
. . . I can criticize others.
. . . My sense of humor can, at times, be sarcastic and biting.
. . . I struggle with prayer.
. . . I am not as generous as I probably should be.
Need I go on? This could develop into a pretty big list if I let it. Only my confessor knows all the details. Yes, I do go to confession . . . regularly.
The beginning step in any healing process, I think, is being right with God. I base this on the story of Jesus’ healing of the paralytic. (See Mk. 2: 1-12; Mt. 9:1-8; or Lk. 5:17-26) Before He began any type of physical healing on the paralytic, Jesus first forgave him—spiritual healing before the physical healing. That’s why I continue to sing the praises of regular, integral confession in which sins are forgiven—spiritual healing takes place.
I am no fraudulent faith healer. You won’t find me peddling any snake oil either. Do I believe that Jesus can heal? Absolutely. I think that He (through His apostolic Church) gave us sacraments of healing like Penance and Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick for a reason. Sometimes the healing process involves overcoming our own pride and asking for help—admitting humbly that I cannot forgive or heal myself without God's grace. Forgiveness of sins is not something that can accurately be portrayed in some self-help book. We need the personal forgiveness of Christ which is offered to us freely in the sacraments of the Church. We can receive forgiveness of sins, anointing when we are seriously ill, the Holy Eucharist to fill the depths of our spiritual hungers, all completely free of charge upon asking!
Yet we must continue to do battle with those who will disagree and tell us how we are wrong:
Father, you don’t have to go to a priest. You can confess directly to God.
Why should I pray? God doesn’t answer my prayers.
I am too far gone. There’s no hope for me at this point.
Religion is a bunch of nonsense and fairy tales. I’ll take my chances.
These and arguments like them somehow seem to forget (or may never have known) the personal relationship that Jesus desires for all of us, which continues to be present through His Mystical Body, the Church. Christ (a Divine Person) became a man, a human being, with both a human and divine nature. God became incarnate and continues to use flesh and blood people like us to further His mission and to carry out His will.
Do this in memory of me (Lk. 22:19) . . . Whose sins you shall forgive are forgiven them (Jn. 20:23) . . . Go and baptize them (Mt. 28:19) . . . . Do these commands of Jesus seem to imply that we should do it entirely by ourselves? Is it just a situation of “me and God?” Rather, is Jesus not trying to spread His mission and His message far and wide? Is He not continually trying to bring healing and forgiveness to a wounded world through His Church?
Please take advantage of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. Multiple opportunities are available for you to let the healing begin. Put aside the pride, humble yourself, and let Jesus into your heart. You will not regret it.
Fr. Ed Namiotka