“Do you want to be healed?” is a tricky question.

father-steven-labaireI am pleased to present this guest post from
Father Steven LaBaire, pastor of Holy Family Parish in Worcester, MA.

Today’s gospel reading (John 5:1-16) at the Pool of Bethesda where Jesus heals the man who had been lame for over thirty years struck a familiar chord. In that reading, Jesus asks a most obvious question: “Do you want to be healed?” He sensed that the man having been ill for so long, was stuck in that mode.

The Pool of Bethesda

I remember hearing that question in my head when I had my throat blessed two years ago on the Feast of St. Blaise--that blessing healed my singing voice. Actually my answer to the question at that point was “No!”

Why the heck not??

I no longer wanted the responsibility associated with being a singer. It sounds ridiculous even as I write this but leading the singing at mass each week had become a grind. That’s what happens when you do it too long without a break. It was time to step aside and I used my lack of singing voice to do that. I sure as heck didn’t want my voice to come back–it would take away my excuse!


Eventually I came to understand that it was perfectly okay to take time away. I have only just returned to singing in church but this time as a member of the choir, without the leadership responsibility.

Get that elephant off of me!

Then there was the feeling of being stuck when it came to my weight. I felt like I had an elephant sitting on top of me–loosing weight seemed like an impossibility.

elephant on chest

A rare hour spent in church in front of the monstrance changed everything. The grace I received from that time of prayer helped me to gently prod the elephant to move away. He did and I was able to embrace my diet (which is now a chosen lifestyle). I’ve lost 22 of the 27 pounds that I wish to lose. That elephant will not visit me again.

Praying at home

As I wrote in my spiritual journal, “Is My Day Your Day,”  Even though I felt the insistent call again and again to stop, be still and pray, I could not get myself to do it. Again, it was time spent in adoration that caused that elephant to move away as well.

prayer corner4 smaller

True healing

I was healed: my voice came back, I lost the weight, I’ve started praying in my corner each morning and each night.

Healing removes burdens, not just of the physical ailment or stubborn mindset, but of the guilt and attachment associated with those things.

Sometimes it is there for so long that it becomes your identity. It can be a excuse to avoid doing something that is difficult. It definitely requires a truthful assessment of yourself and that can be painful.

All of that was true. But in each case, I experienced transformation. SO worth it!

Not such a simple question is it: “Do you want to be healed?”

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Celebrating a second chance with singing!

You lose something precious, an essential part of yourself.

You grieve. And rail. You lament. And cry.

You tick down a long list of regrets, of missed (and botched) opportunities.

You think it’s all over.

And then, you get a second chance.

Designhuone.net Second Chance logo
Designhuone.net Second Chance logo, Flickr Creative Commons

Four years ago I lost my music. The singing voice disappeared. The songwriting stopped. The passion died.

Or so I thought.

Continue reading “Celebrating a second chance with singing!”

Healing versus a cure: There is definitely a difference!

I believe in healing. Not a just a cure but a healing.

Doctors provide cures; that’s their job. They note your symptoms, attempt a diagnosis and then offer treatment. It can all be rather clinical and impersonal. I don’t blame doctors; they are not trained to be counselors (though a treatment of the whole person is certainly the ideal). Medicine does offer some amazing cures. But does a cure guarantee a healing?

Just what is the difference?

The ultimate physician

from pastorblog.cumcdebary.org
from pastorblog.cumcdebary.org

Jesus was a healer. He also called himself a physician (see Luke 4:23). And he desired mercy. When he healed the sick, he did not just cure the ailment.

Take the paralytic on the mat in Luke, chapter 5. He is lowered down through the ceiling by his friends so that he can see Jesus.

What is the first thing Jesus does for him? Does he tell the man to “pick up his mat and walk?” Eventually.

But first he attends to his soul by forgiving his sins.

He discerns that the man’s deeper suffering was interior.

The man was already healed by the time he was cured.

One woman’s story of healing

I have a dear friend who suffers from a disease of the inner ear known as Ménière’s. It makes her dizzy and nauseous; this makes any kind of movement difficult. Walking, riding in a car, just moving her head: this all contributes to the symptoms. It has left a once vibrant woman homebound. And yet, the other day, she told me she was healed. It began several years ago at a healing service. She had the disease but didn’t ask for a cure. Rather, she left herself open to whatever God wished to grant her. She ended up on her knees crying copious tears.

She still has the disease, but she is healed.

Staying connected to life

Like the paralytic my friend is healed from within. She accepts her fate and lives with it. Despite her physical pain each day has a purpose. She makes a plan and tries to accomplish something whether it is cooking (which she enjoys), changing the bed sheets, doing laundry or general cleanup. She stays connected with her friends and goes out to lunch with them even though she is nauseous and her walking labored because of the dizziness.

My friend is still quite physically ill. How did she become healed from within?

Staying connected to God

My friend makes a point of spending ample time with God. She sits in her rocking chair, closes her eyes and meditates for long periods of time. She prays the Rosary and watches the morning mass on TV. She listens to religious music while falling asleep.

She immerses herself in God, filling her head and heart with good things, just as St. Paul in spelled out in Philipians 4:8: ” … whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

She told me a cure would be most welcome. But she assured me she is healed.

Healing the whole person

suffering and the nature of healingI am reading a fascinating book called Suffering and the Nature of Healing. It is written by Daniel Hinshaw, M.D. He writes from the point of view of a physician but also as an Orthodox Christian. He is focused on the incarnation of Christ and Christ as the Great Physician. It’s where a lot of the ideas in this post came from. His overall thrust is the care of the Total Person: physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual. Dr. Hinshaw maintains that modern medicine usually stresses the physical, forgetting about the other three.

There is a disconnect between the physical symptoms and the person experiencing those symptoms.

The ideal physician

Dr. Hinshaw’s book describes the ideal for physicians in the treatment of their patients: that of imitating Christ, the Great Physician.

Jesus’ intent in his healings was always about the whole person; he was intimate with that person.

Over and over again he reached out to individuals, touching them, using primitive healing techniques (such as the mud for the blind man’s eyes), lifting up Peter’s sick mother-in-law by the hand, calling out the woman who touched his cloak for healing to present herself. He wept at the grave of Lazarus, his good friend before raising him from the dead, keenly aware of the grief around him.

Jesus reaches out to the whole person, not the parts. He also reaches out to the community surrounding that person.

from praycatholic.wordpress.com
from praycatholic.wordpress.com

Personal healing

Jesus never forgets who we really are. He longs to show his mercy and bestow his healing if we would but ask.

My friend with Ménière’s knows that and now I know it too. And not just because I know my friend’s story: I now have one as well.

In my next post, I will share about my personal healing. It’s nothing short of miraculous especially because of the way it happened. I am so full of gratitude and wonder over my healing that often when I pass a church, I stop, go inside and say thank you to God over and over.

But that’s for next time.

How do you feel about your doctor? Does he or she know your story? Have you offered it?

Have you experienced a healing from God?

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