Do Catholics believe in faith healing?

Share This
The body isn’t the only place where sickness lodges and healing is needed; mind and spirit need restoration as well to achieve wholeness.

Most of us equate faith healing with a miraculous resolution of a medical condition that can’t be explained by other means. In charismatic instances of faith healing, a sick person receives the laying on of hands, is prayed over often in an unintelligible language of tongues, and may experience being “slain in the Spirit”—falling to the ground involuntarily. In the movies, this is the moment when the person gets up, throws away the crutches, and walks away restored.

But let’s not be dismissive about the gift of healing. In the gospels, healing is frequently achieved by a touch or word from Jesus. In the early church, James exhorts the community to lay hands on the sick and pray for them—presuming a curative effect. Our Sacrament of the Sick today is an anointing with oil that seeks to restore the sick person to wholeness in body, mind, and spirit.

But what exactly are we praying for when we pray for healing? Theologian John Craghan distinguishes between seeking God’s intervention, and trying to assert mental control over the illness. Movements like Christian Science attempt the latter, while Catholic tradition invokes divine help. Craghan outlines four elements particular to Catholic teaching on healing: All healing is a gift from God. Sickness is not merely a result of incorrect thinking but a real condition. Medical help available through science cooperates with the goal of healing and should not be rejected as contrary to faith. And finally, the body isn’t the only place where sickness lodges and healing is needed; mind and spirit need restoration as well to achieve wholeness.

This understanding suggests it’s not enough to insist, “If it’s God’s will, I’ll get better”—denying a doctor’s recommendations or prescriptions. Likewise, those suffering from depression shouldn’t imagine that if only their faith were stronger, their condition would evaporate overnight. The loss of physical or mental health is distressing enough without the addition of unwarranted blame or guilt. 

The church has always invested in healing by means of the sacraments, as well as in caring for the sick by the construction of hospitals worldwide. Modern health care too often depersonalizes and dehumanizes the sick person in clinical settings and procedures. The Sacrament of the Sick restores the sick to the community of faith, and reveals them as a sign of Christ’s enduring suffering and compassion.

Scripture: Exodus 15:26; 1 Kings 17:17-24; Sirach 38:1-15; Mark 1:21-34; Matthew 14:13-14; 25:31-46; Luke 7:21-23; John 9:1-5; James 5:13-16

Books: Healing Through the Sacraments, by Michael Marsch (Liturgical Press, 1989)

Healing the Future: Personal Recovery from Societal Wounding, by Dennis, Sheila, and Matthew Linn (Paulist Press: 2012)

Reprinted with permission from ©TrueQuest Communications.

| ➕ | ➕

More questions...and responses

Site:  0 comments  -  Add your own comment  -  Follow my posts  -  Permalink Tags:

0 Site Comments

Facebook Comments



Follow Us


Click on a date below to see the vocation events happening that day!