Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Charismatic...Catholic...New Age?

My mom once mentioned a faith healer she had wanted to go see at the annual state Catholic charismatic conference he was supposed to be attending somewhere near her home this past summer.  I told her I was also interested in going; I've been trying to be more open to different kinds of prayer, since my prayer life tends to be more rote and...I don't know, insensate?  Less seasoned with personally significant or just personal phenomena.  Anyway, that and I hoped to provide some grounding for my mom whose interest in a visibly fruitful prayer life after having grown up on the cusp of Vatican II sometimes leaves her open to gauging activity of the Holy Spirit by emotional impact.  So we've got things to learn from each other.

Well, she encouraged me to look this healer up online, so I did.  The first Google hit I got was a discussion about whether he was on the level or not, so it seemed as good a place to start as any.  I looked at a few more, some which were enthusiastically supportive, others which were cautious because some of his language and healing techniques (he had been a physician but now does full-time prayer healing and some unorthodox/experimental medical practices I don't want to get sidetracked on) bear similarities to Eastern philosophy and contain occasional references to Eastern religious figures, still others which were pretty well against this man's work because of its Eastern appearances.   

What was funny was that this first web site was cautiously skeptical, based largely on conversations with a Catholic acquaintance of the author of the web site, but all the criticisms were against Catholic doctrine and culture.

Repeated denials that the man with the alleged gift of healing had anything to do with the healing of the Catholic acquaintance, that Jesus did not need him and could have healed him from the prayers of anyone else, such as the site's author (who may or may not have offered any).  Reminders that we don't need healers, we need Jesus (do we even need doctors, then?  Are we to despise certain tools Jesus may deign to use other than a grace of spontaneous recovery of health?).  "Alarm bells" going off at this healer's admission to using the rosary and chaplet of Divine Mercy frequently during his healing services.  Frequent "corrections" to the healed man talking about the work of his priest, and dismay at the man's cancer coming back, as if no sola fideist ever died.  Sorrow over his alleged misconception that he would have to go to purgatory, with the author's own misconceptions being clear in claiming that the doctrine of purgatory was proof in the lack of faith in the completeness of Christ's suffering (or rather, in the owner's thorough ignorance of Colossians 1:24) "that the RCC invented in the 800 years after Christ's death"--not sure how the RCC differed from the Eastern or Oriental or other Occidental rites back then, or if it wasn't until the ninth century that questions of purgatory presumably first arose.  Saying it is a lie that Rome is the one Church and [the pope, anyway] the successor of Peter, even though most ecclesial communities find it more fruitful to attempt to trivialize these claims than to attempt to show the claims are simply, willfully, false.  Regretting that this person, being Catholic, isn't even aware of his savior (a claim I find odd every time I hear it; we don't use "personal relationship with Jesus" language as much, although talk and writing about the Eucharist is pretty clearly that, and if he wasn't up for correcting the simple factual errors about purgatory and the role of the priest or the Church then he probably wouldn't have been well-equipped to cut through the Evangelical jargon either, but I hear this "you don't know Him" stuff so much it makes me wonder how stupid they must think we are for praying to some blue-robed Mother while the Son to whom she is a mother we never think about--who's the guy on the cross supposed to be, anyway, if not Jesus?).  Regretting that, in their zeal to show him the truly-true Gospel before Time Ran Out and he finally succumbed to cancer, they may have been blunt to the point of alienating; this is another curious feature I sometimes observe, one that smacks to me of a belief in the inadequacy and narrowness of the Cross, that if someone can't be pressed into reciting a trite formula before the buzzer on his life goes off, then there's no hope.  But maybe being overzealous and then recognizing the share in culpability for the harm done by belligerent proselytizing is better than saying "Well, we logistically haven't been able to evangelize to absolutely everybody in the world, so God must be okay with sending all those pagans to hell, and so who am I to have a problem with what God wants?" which I have also seen.

What was perhaps funnier was a comment left by a reader who laments that we Catholics never do discernment of the supernatural, that it's all the same and must all come from God, and so we never know if we're being deceived by satanic healings.

You know what?  Satan might heal (maybe wouldn't, but for the sake of the argument), but he couldn't if God didn't allow it.  Satan couldn't act, or exist, if God didn't allow it.  God allows things because in the end they will glorify Him.  I don't find a sorting logic of "Direct from God is good, anything that appears to be mediated by the saints or angels is from the devil" to be particularly discerning.  It attributes too much native power to hell and too little shared power to current and would-be saints.  You know what?  Okay, God did the healing, but you had the charity to ask God to heal.  God gave you the charity too, but He also gave you the free will to exercise it--the opportunity to let Him act through you.  Scrupling to deny that crosses the line from humility into denial of facts, and woe to he who calls good evil.  You've got a problem with free will?  Then you've got a lot of non-Calvinists to preach to than just the Catholics (which makes me wonder, on a tangent, what or when doctrinal differences qualify as fundamental and gross, or just negligible differences of interpretation betwixt brethren).

But I'm getting off track.  All these criticisms of Catholics' various apparently inferior charisms, but nothing about what should alarm them:

No qualms about mentioning Buddha alongside Jesus and the saints who worked through the power of love.  No fears about the similarities between Eastern pantheistic-medical practices and this healer's allegedly unorthodox medical practices.  No alarm raised at the descriptions of God as an Energy or a field like for one of the four fundamental forces of nature.

Here is a guy with cancer putting himself in the care of a guy potentially attempting to harness the powers of Eastern mysticism, and you're worried that he lacks some familiarity with Christ gained by reciting a rote verse?  Christ hasn't been present in this world the way you and I are for two thousand years; I would venture that none of us is really adequately familiarized with Him.  Worry first about whether the doctor has a predilection for conflating God and The Force.  

1 comment:

nahidworld said...

Thank you for your post of Charismatic .