The power to heal

Sometimes a book draws you and you don’t know why, until you read it. This book is one of those for me. The Power to Heal, by Francis MacNutt, o.p. has re-ignited my interest in healing prayer and was written in 1975 from his own experience of more than 10 years in healing ministry through the Catholic charismatic renewal.

p. 32- 33: …’I have found that my ability to help the sick has greatly increased by recognizing that –
1) There is a time element in most healing. Even in healings that seems instant there is at least a period of minutes in which the change takes place.
2) There is also an element of more or less power, more or less authority in me, since I am not God, but only share in his life, so that the effect of my prayer on the sickness may not completely dispel the sickness and bring in the wholeness of life. (I am a “wounded healer.”)
3) In consequence, many of the people I pray with are not completely healed but are improved.
These understandings result in the following changes in my ministry of healing:
1) I must get out of the habit of thinking of all people in categorical terms as healed by prayer or not healed by prayer. I should rejoice if many – or even some – of the people I pray for experience some of God’s healing power and are improved in health.
2) I want to grow closer in union with Jesus Christ, so that more of his life, his wisdom, his authority and his healing power will work through me to heal others. But this, too, is a process and takes time. While not being complacent, I shall be patient, knowing that growth is an organic process.
3) I will learn to be patient with myself and with the sick, knowing that more time is often what we need to complete the healing.

I have also been encouraged by his insights into different degrees and levels of healing, from natural forces for healing released in prayer (e.g. the power of suggestion, the healing in human touch); through spiritual and emotional healing which can then impact on physical healing; through the natural recuperative forces of the body, sped up by prayer, sometimes to an obviously supernatural level (e.g. watching a tumour disappear); to a creative act of God, a miracle in the truest sense of the word (e.g. creation of a new limb where one was missing).

The whole book has been thought-provoking and inspirational – one I am sure I will keep returning to over time.




This poem by Sr. Raphael Consedine was part of the inspiration for my song, The Crossing Place, due to be released on our first Wayfarers EP later this year.


The pilgrims paused on the ancient stones
In the mountain gap.

Behind them stretched the roadway they had travelled.
Ahead, mist hid the track.

Unspoken the question hovered:
Why go on? Is life not short enough?

Why seek to pierce its mystery?
Why venture further on strange paths, risking all

Surely that is a gamble for fools – or lovers.
Why not return quietly to the known road?

Why be a pilgrim still?
A voice they knew called to them, saying:

This is Trasna, the crossing place.
Choose! Go back if you must,

You will find your way easily by yesterday’s fires,
there may be life in the embers yet.

If that is not your deep desire,
Stand still. Lay down your load.

Take your life firmly in your two hands,
(Gently… you are trusted with something precious)

While you search your heart’s yearnings:
What am I seeking? What is my quest?

When your star rises deep within,
Trust yourself to its leading.

You will have the light for first steps.
This is Trasna, the crossing place.
This is Trasna, the crossing place

Dementia: a prayer

In weakness or in strength,
we bear your image.
We pray for those we love
who now live in a land of shadows,
where the light of memory is dimmed,
where the familiar lies unknown,
where the beloved become as strangers.
Hold them in your everlasting arms
and grant to those who care
a strength to serve,
a patience to persevere,
a love to last,
and a peace that passes human understanding.
Hold us in your everlasting arms,
today and for all eternity;
through Christ our Lord.

Attribution unknown.

The role of the artist

From Robert van de Weyer: Celtic Gifts

Are artists the people who break down the invisible walls which divide the Church from the wider community? In the Celtic period, and right up until relatively recent times, all art was religious; and there was no division in people’s minds between the religious and secular aspects of their lives – all life was permeated by religion. Now those who hold a clear religious faith are in a minority, and religion is widely perceived as a separate sphere of activity, a kind of hobby which this minority pursues in their leisure hours. Yet artistic creativity knows no barriers; artists draw their inspiration from every kind of source, making no distinction between religion and the rest of life; and good music, poetry, painting, architecture and sculpture can be appreciated by everybody, regardless of religious affiliation – or lack of it. So just as the Order of St Brigid is concerned with the healing of individuals, the Order of St Columba* may have a particular role in the healing of society.

* Instead of the conventional structure of the Church of England, van de Weyer imagines a new model for the church in which both clergy and lay people are elected to ‘Orders’ which bring together those with particular gifts for the church, e.g. preachers, pastors, healers. Each Order is named after a Celtic saint. The Order of St Columba is for artists.