Healing Through the Sacraments By Father Robert DeGrandis, S.S.J.

To review books by Fr. DeGrandis available at our bookstore, click on the blue: The Gift of Miracles : Experiencing God's Extraordinary Power in Your Life(1991--$7.99), Changed Forever : Five Stories of God's Transforming Grace, or Healing Through the Mass (1994--$6.36).

Morton Kelsey in Psychology, Medicine and Christian Healing, challenges us to expect healing through the sacraments. We have in our church, he reminds us, "...the same basic sacramental approach to it (healing) as Jesus. Some word, a touch, or a material element such as oil was believed to convey the power of the Spirit that was channeled through the Christian. The words and touch were important as outward and visible signs of an inner grace, a spiritual energy. The sacramental acts were only outward carriers of the Spirit that wished to heal."

Healing through the sacraments is very real to Father Richard Woldum of Los Angeles, California. Shortly after his ordination he was assigned for one year as a hospital chaplain at St. Joseph's Hospital in Alton, Illinois. He knew nothing about healing, but was soon to learn of its reality through the power of the sacraments. He shares about his experiences with one patient in the following story:

"One morning I received a call to come to the emergency room to see an 11-year-old boy named Johnny who was dying. I found him on a breathing machine, his head swollen very large.

"Johnny's parents told me that he had been riding his bike on a gravel road near his home when a truck came flying over the hill and hit him head-on. The collision caused him to be thrown into the nearby field. When the ambulance arrived, the medics found his head cut wide open with half his brains scattered in the field. They literally picked up pieces of his brain, shoved them into his head, and took him to the hospital.

"When I asked Johnny's parents if he had been baptized, they said, "No." They informed me they attended no church but prayed at home as a family. I asked them if they would like me to baptize Johnny. They glanced at each other as if to say, "It couldn't cause any harm." Then they said to me, "Go ahead." They also said, "If I wanted to, I could baptize him into the Catholic faith." That night, with the parents and two nurses as witnesses, I baptized Johnny.

"The next morning I was doing communion rounds when my beeper went off. Johnny's doctor wanted me in the intensive care unit. "What you do last night?" he asked in broken English, as I met him outside Johnny's room. I explained to the doctor, a Buddhist that I had baptized Johnny (with the permission of his parents) so that he could go to heaven. When I asked him why he was so concerned, he informed me that the boy's swelling had disappeared. The doctor was still convinced that the boy would die, however; or if he lived, remains a vegetable, never moving, talking or even moving his eyes.

"That night Johnny's parents thanked me for baptizing him. I then explained about the anointing of the sick, and asked if they would like Johnny to receive that sacrament. With their agreement and in their presence, I anointed Johnny.

"The next morning during communion rounds the doctor again paged me on my beeper. He met me at the door of intensive care and directed me to Johnny's room, explaining on the way that he had heard from the nurses that I had again prayed for Johnny. When he pointed to Johnny's eyes and asked, "What you do?" I saw that Johnny's eyes were moving. "It was just the power of Jesus through prayers for the sick," I responded. He gave a faintly sarcastic grin and said, "It no matter. Boy no talk or move. He remain vegetable."

"It was now the third night, counting the night of the accident. I suggested to the parents that they permit me to give Johnny the sacrament of confirmation. They agreed.

"The following morning his legs and arms were moving. The doctor said to me in front of the parents, "I no longer in control." He was simply unable to explain what was happening. The parents turned to me and said they wanted to become Catholics. I recommended that they wait and see what happened to Johnny before making a final decision.

"That evening when I explained to them about the Eucharist, they said they wanted this for Johnny too. I gave him some Precious Blood through an eyedropper. The next morning he was making sounds.

"The weekend was now upon me. It was Labor Day 1979 and I went home to celebrate my grandmother's 90th birthday. When I checked in on Johnny upon my return, I learned he had been transferred to the third floor, which was the surgery unit. I went upstairs to see him, fearing that he had gone back to surgery. He was sitting on his bed, talking to his mother.

"After his recovery they took another x-ray of his head and found that the part of his brain that had spilled out into the field had grown back. When I eventually talked to Johnny's parents about becoming Catholics, they informed me they would continue praying at home. The doctor in the case started looking into Christianity. Three nurses converted to Catholicism."

a prayerful study of scripture will draw us into the knowledge of God as a loving, blessing Father with gifts of healing for all. St. Jerome once said, "Ignorance of the scriptures is ignorance of Christ. Through the scriptures, opened up through the light of the Holy Spirit, we come to know the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Through the scriptures we come to know that Jesus teaches through healing, meeting people in their needs, He touches them and heals them. If we don’t know scripture, we won’t be open to letting Jesus act in and through us in a similar way.

Along with His Holy Word, we also are richly graced with the precious Body and Blood of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. It is significant that you and I pray at each Mass just before Communion, "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed." Time and time again people have testified to powerful healing—body, mind and spirit—that they have experienced through the most Holy Eucharist. May we members of His Body open our lives more fully to this bountiful gift of healing, especially as we participate in the Holy Mass.

Suggested readings: The Healing Power of a Christian Mind: How Biblical Truth Can Keep You Healthy, by William Backus (1998-- $7.19), Christian Healing; A Practical and Comprehensive Guide by Francis S. Macnutt (Designer), Mark A. Pearson (1995--$9.59) and Miracles Do Happen, by Briege McKenna; Her story of healing and how she went on to heal others. (1996--$7.99) available at through Amazon.com by clicking on the blue.

Read other articles of spiritual enlightenment in theMarch 1999 edition of The San Francisco Charismatics or return to the Main Menu by clicking on the blue.

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 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.