Emmitsburg Council of Churches

Notebook on Healing form a Mountain Retreat

Father John J. Lombardi

"And may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound" (I Th 5:23) Archbishop Flynn recently told story of Mr. Goodreau of Louisiana traveling by horse and buggy which was hit by tractor trailer. After the accident and later at a trial to settle the claim a judge asked Mr. Goodreau what happened. He said he was hit by the truck and later a state trooper saw the wretched scene and horse dying in road, barely breathing; so he pulled out pistol and shot the horse out of misery. Then the trooper, with smoking gun came over to the exasperated Mr. Goodreau and asked: "And just how are you doing?" We all need relief from pain, misery and suffering. We need God to heal us.. We need His Divine Love.

Abp Flynn also said in the retreat to priests-that of all the requests Jesus made in St John ch 17-it was not prudence or wisdom or power to hold onto, but to remain in God's love: That is what our retreat is about-and the Christian life. Particularly we are called to say with the seeking disciple for the Lord's healing: "Lord I am not worthy to have you come under my roof but only say the word and I will be healed" ( ). Notice: seek the Lord, His healing, ask him to heal you-and others-and receive and remain in His Love--LET HIM IN! …

Always remember the following mediation during this retreat: Trinity's Divinity Heals by Unity, Five simple, holy words. Repeat and remember them by first saying them on one of your hand's five fingers, impress the words and meaning within, deepen by intentionality the communion and meaning.…By being in the Trinity, we sick souls can be redeemed, healed, relieved….Image yourself within the Trinity's Divinizing unity… That great prayer by Jesus Christ in Jn 17: a la Douay Rheims version, where Jesus prays to the Father for us in the world, forms the basis of our meditation and is a religious redemptive rhyme: Jesus prays-"I in You (the Father), You in Me that they (disciples) may be perfected in unity"…Jesus brings us into the Trinity's perfecting love if we seek, ask and allow Him: we must be receptive. St Gregory Naziazen prayed "I have not even begun to think of unity when the Trinity bathes me in It's splendor. I have not even begun to think of the Trinity when the unity grasps

me. On this retreat we will not only DO things and practices, but we will also learn to Be-to practice mindfulness and simple living and holy silence, to rest in God's Divine Being, to focus and deeply -re-learn our Faith and God's Love, and even un-learn certain bad ways of living to be healed.

The purpose of this retreat: to learn and, more importantly, assimilate all the ways of healing God gives to us and our Holy Catholic Church. We will discover them in these days They are many and are meant to treat and temper the whole person-body and soul A man in a treatment center once said to me, "In reflecting I realized I needed to confront and heal past memories-events before moving on. I needed to integrate and become a whole person and not leave the past out. I'd repressed the past. It was easier to run. Now it's time to heal…"

Key: imaging within, impressing within soul, God's flowing, Divine Light, His celestial Beauty and Holiness, His radiance and "Energies" (St Athanasius, Pope Benedict in "God is Love" use this term of God) shining thru our bodies, minds and spirits -this isn't just for New age people! We must cultivate receptivity, openness, vessel-hood-receiving and innocence to be healed and filled with God's Light and love-Trinity's Divinity Heals by Unity…

Recently I was running across Mt St Mary's campus and ran by a lady in front of the library. She greeted me. I dropped off the books and ran again across her path. Getting in my car she was walking by my path and said-"Slow down, stop and smell the roses." It's what I need to constantly hear-and many of us: our lifestyles are sometimes a blur, a rush and cause sickness, stress, spiritual strangulation. Jesus Himself said: "Look at the lilies of the field, the birds of the sky" (Mt. 6). He-God is counseling us to be healed by His creation. This is a way of healing as we will find out-along with the Sacraments and other sacred ways.

Another key to this retreat is holistic healing, as in:

  • Body="Take a little wine for the sake of your stomach" (I Tim 5:23) -- In Book of Revelation in Heaven "The leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations" (22:2). God heals us thru material creation-sometimes by herbs, sometimes pills, sometimes physical therapies-do you use these rightly, wisely. Catholics believe in holism-using god's material creation for health and healing.
  • Mind: Think on the higher things (Col 3)…Let this Mind be in you which was also in Christ…" We must begin or continue to train our minds from unruliness and anxiousness to crispness and trust in God's Mind. Correct our thinking so is in more control and synthesis with our Bodies…Let us take note of how, in our own tradition and now, today, how so many are making links between meditation and health and healing. We must also cultivate the right-holy attitude toward our health, sickness and healing. If you keep people in depression this is harmful; fears is an enemy, and teaching healing shall come by way of positive stimulation and separation, not fear.
  • Spirit-Soul: This is God's supernatural gift to us "Are you not aware you are God's temple and that the Holy Spirit dwells within you?" (I Cor 3:16)…"For a perishable body weighs down the soul" (Wis 9:15) … "And may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound" (I Th 5:23). These verses denote we have, are, supernatural-God-created aspect of ourselves which is like an energy-desire-spirit which animates the body. Right morality, spirituality and living all hurt or help the soul.
  • Mind thru Matter: These two cohesive phenomenon work in permeation and mutual compelmtariness. Not Mind over matter (as if one is better than the other) or mind or matter (duality) . We must avoid dualities so as to fully take God's creation and Spirit, and the Incarnation seriously as He intended. Healing shall come from an equilibrium of the two and we must make a conscious choice of the mind and will to either overcome suffering, or (eventually) embrace and befriend it (let it become a teacher and not an enemy) and unite the suffering to Jesus and His Power which will transform .
  • Mind and matter: are not opposed, but need to be seen together, synthetically Some Ways to Suffer and Be Healed Lovingly: "Mystical suffering"-I take joy in my sufferings for I fill up what was lacking in Christ for the sake of the body" (Col 1:24) . We transfer our suffering to Christ, others and "deflect" it from clinging-pre-occupying self. N American Martyrs, Victim soul Bernadette suffered for other sinners, Fatima children …Triple A = Attract sufferings, Accept them, atone =offer it up Sublimation-Always remember: I Pt 2:21= "Christ suffered for you and left you an example to follow in His footsteps." How do we imitate this and how do we help sufferers to offer up suffering?-- Redemptive suffering, attach suffering to Christ's, and "fill up what was lacking in Christ" (Gal 1:24)

Think of others' suffering/martyrs and compare to yours. This will help "lift" you out of any excessive egoic attachment.

Mind and matter- are not opposed, but need to be seen together, synthetically Spiritual Direction: talk therapy is popular today (talk shows, courts, various therapists, etc). This shows in some way we need an-other person to help us objectively to see our faults, sins, hurts. They can help us in ways we cannot.

-Others-in community-relationship -a man went on pilgrimage to New. Orleans and was tremendously impressed by youth, joy, enthusiasm, zeal, hard work of others, esp the youth, as much as anything else on the pilgrimage. Their liveliness, conversation, joy healed and strengthened the pilgrim-volunteer. The Mystical Body with many parts/persons (I Cor 13) is meant to help weaker parts, complement and offset one's own issues and pre-occupy mind so as to alleviate stress and pains.

Healing Masses, laying on of priestly healing hands, calling of the Holy Spirit, and the Bl Sacrament heal in community. We must go with right disposition. Environment events, nature, signals of "other-ness" and takes mind of preoccupations. The mountains, lakes and sea can all be indirect sources of God's re-creative Love and Mercy. Abp. Flynn said he never expected God so much since his days at Mary's Mtn. Read some poetry on God's Creation, esp Gerard Manley Hopkins "God's Grandeur",etc.)

Reconciliation: apologizing to someone or graciously receiving this from another and then changing life's situation. Pilgrimage: Specifically asking for a favor-healing form God and going on a journey, leaving behind sin and embrace Him as crucial. Service Work-Works of Mercy--get de-focused from self by 1-helping others; 2-thinking of other's pains (starving/suffering people/hurricane Katrina), 3- purifying relationships-from ones which are harmful to more harmonious and holy and healthy. These kinds deter stress and spiritually impress. Saints and esp St Hildegarde of Bingen -see below but this holy woman knew a lot about herbs and healing medicines, cures for body and soul, harmonic music and healer of soul, the humors and hormones and energies of the body, and has been capitalized by diverse groups-we orthodox Catholics should capitalize on her and her wisdom too!

Exercise=joggle the inner bodily life and re-shuffle it to stimulate body, mind soul-they all affect ea. Other-holistic health.

Walking-slowly or briskly enervating body, mind and spirit.

Talking-group therapy-such as cancer talk groups, spiritual discussion groups--not keeping things in, repressed, but sharing similar stories. Natural foods-a good healthy diet not toxic= rise of organic food industry. Sweating out whether in sweat lodge or sauna it is healing body mind and spirit by sweat and diffusing toxins of body. The Paschal Mystery denotes Christ's Sacred Death and Resurrection. By His Death he embraced and subjected all suffering, pain and death to Himself; by His Glorious Resurrection He shows us Triumph over all suffering and death (and gives us hope) and also demonstrates the Glorious Radiant Body . We Catholics need to assimilate all the riches of these mystical, spiritual symbols by vicarious suffering thru Him with Him and in Him, and we must also foster delight and future triumph by thinking of the radiant , ethereal, mystic body of Himself and ours that He promises to give us if we are worthy of him, and thereby treat our bodies and souls NOW as worthy "temples.

Saints & Healing…St John of the Cross was imprisoned in cell by brother Carmelites and wrote one of most famous love songs-spiritual treatises-"The Spiritual Canticle" = Salvation out of suffering. Think about it: suffering can be productive or abductive-you make the choice!.

The saints show us heroic suffering is transformed by God in living virtues heroically. A virtue is a power, disposition within soul, body and mind. Here is the "spiritual formula" for cultivating virtues: effort+grace+knowledge+persistence=a virtue. All elements are essential. Effort=exert will power and keep trying to become holy, and seek virtues to heal. Grace=God's actual graces at prayer and actual time of need. Sanctifying grace = God within us. We cannot do it alone-heal or become holy. Knowledge= we need to know actual proven ways, disciplines, practices to overcome hurts and embrace holy lifestyle. Persistence= virtues and healing don't always come overnight. We need to get back up and keep forging up the mountain

So, virtue of healing, longsuffering-Gal 5:22= constantly asking and allowing God to come, be within soul so He is our preoccupation . As Ethan, a student-man of Mary's Mountain said: "Jesus promised not to heal the body but the soul-'Lord, say the word and my soul shall be healed.'".

The Holy Spirit as Source of healing. Do we rely on Him to heal our memories, past experiences, current troubles? John of the Cross indicates that in deep prayer the Holy Spirit purifies and cauterizes deep caverns of darkness and attachments to free us to love and be loved. Sometimes we just need to embrace/befriend our sickness, disease and not fight it but learn from it. A pilgrim once asked me an important, beautiful question: "How can I suffer more with love?" Consider the following:

  1. "Christ suffered for you and left you an example to follow in His footsteps" (I Pt 2:21)-we need to remember we are given an opportunity to imitate Jesus in our suffering!
  2. Become a co-atoner: like Saints Therese and Bernadette a la St Paul Col 1:24 ("I take joy in my suffering for I fill up what was lacking in Christ")-so help redeem and save souls: accept the suffering, then send the graces of your suffering-"spiritually telegraph" them to others, the poor, imprisoned, a relative or friend.
  3. Redemptive suffering means it will heal and teach you-if you let it-suffering can be redeeming if we place it in context of Christ and His Cross and redemption.
  4. St Teresa of Avila said on her deathbed that she wanted-"more crosses." The Cross and suffering is like a "spiritual sandpaper" which will rub and shine and fleece us to more important things.
  5. Joan of Arc, 19 year old teen while being burned to death-martyrdom asked while standing in flames responding to "last request": "Bring me a crucifix." The crucifix, Rosary, other sacramental's can concretely help remind us of aids to suffering in love.
  6. St John of the Cross counseled, simply: "Fix your eyes on Christ alone." Not on self, on Christ, His Passion-become selfless and allow soul to be filled/complemented by His Passion. Abp Flynn the most important fact about human suffering is to remember the Paschal Mystery-Christ's Passion, Death and Resurrection.

We cannot always understand rationally our suffering or another's, but placed in the context of Christ entrance into, and embrace of suffering, and His eventual triumph over it, we can cultivate the virtue of hope= trust in trials. (this is yet another reason why regular-frequent mass attendance is so important!). … Friend-be healed and be saved by God's Healing Love!

Read other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi