Jesus said that wherever two or three are gathered in His name, He is there in the midst of them. Calling upon His presence as a community and seeking an outpouring of His love and mercy are at the heart of healing prayer.
It’s a prayer Catholics throughout the Diocese of Phoenix seek several times a year both privately and within the context of a Mass. A growing number of Catholic communities offer healing prayer on a more frequent basis.
Catholics seeking -spiritual, physical or emotional healing can seek prayer at a Healing Mass, healing service or with a prayer mentor:
- 7 p.m. second Mondays at St. Jerome Parish, 10815 N. 35th Avenue www.catholicrenewalministries.net
- First Sundays after the 9 a.m., 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Masses at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, 2121 S. Rural Road in Tempe
- 7 p.m. Thursdays at City of the Lord, 711 W. University Drive in Tempe
- Twice a month through St. Timothy Parish in Mesa. Info: (480) 775-5200.
“There’s a need out there for sure,” Dennis Ricardo, coordinator of prayer ministry at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Tempe, told The Catholic Sun Dec. 3. Meanwhile at least eight prayer teams interceded for individuals of all ages inside.
Besides quarterly Masses, Our Lady of Mount Carmel also offers healing services every first Sunday and healing prayer on first Mondays. City of the Lord, a nearby Catholic Charismatic covenant community in which Ricardo is also a member, offers it weekly.
“Healing prayer is a normal part of Christian life,” Ricardo said, pointing to the many Scripture references. “It’s just that Catholics haven’t treated it as such.”
He said everybody needs healing of one kind or another, although unless it’s a physical ailment, it can sometimes be difficult to know of someone’s struggles. Catholics seeking emotional or spiritual healing are welcome to share as little or as much as they want with the prayer minister. That prayer partner, through the laying on of hands, joins in a silent opening of both hearts to present the concern to God.
“This is not a ministry of magical incantations,” Fr. John Bonavitacola, pastor at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, wrote in a letter to the parish promoting the Advent Healing Mass. “Instead, this healing prayer ministry is simply about fellow believers opening us more completely to the healing love of God. Although God is always with every one of us, there are times in all of our lives when we need help in becoming more fully present to God,” the letter stated.
Fr. Bonavitacola went on to highlight the example of the friends who brought the paralytic to Jesus’ presence for healing. The pastor guided hundreds of Catholics in praying for an increase of a particular gift of the Holy Spirit during the Healing Mass.
“Each one, if we use it well, will bring about healing,” Fr. Bonavitacola said, highlighting all seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Intercessory prayer team members throughout the diocese can vouch for the power of prayer to heal. It’s just a matter of giving up personal timelines to honor God’s, said Dr. Pat Drechsler, a parishioner at Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
She shared her experience of healing after 40 years of fear of homeless individuals following a life-threatening encounter with one of them as a teenager.
She hoped that Catholics who came that night who might have arrived feeling awful left “awe-filled.”
“The Lord can heal us from anger, sin, depression,” Drechsler said.
People have come to quarterly Masses at St. Timothy in Mesa or the twice-monthly prayer room seeking similar healing. Some come on their own. Others come by priest or counselor referral, said Joe Hernandez, who coordinates the ministry.
“We see some of the same people, but we see new people too,” he said.
Their prayer needs range from relief from spiritual attack to wanting a deeper relationship with the Lord, or healing of relationships and physical ailments. It’s the mentor’s job to listen to their need and love them. They must also listen to the Holy Spirit so they know what words to pray aloud.
“They feel this heaviness or this burden and then afterward, they say they feel a whole lot better. They’ve been lifted,” said Hernandez, who also sometimes notices changes in the people he prays over.
He heard secondhand that an individual facing an illness who prayed with one of the prayer mentors is healthy today. While the follow upsfollow-ups are nice to hear, Hernandez constantly reminds himself and the 11 others on the prayer team to remain humble.
“Ultimately the Lord is the one doing the work. He’s the one doing the healing,” Hernandez said.
He gave the analogy of going to the doctor. He said prayer and medicine can go hand in hand as both are gifts from God. In the prayer room or during a Healing Mass, Hernandez said, “you’re coming to the greatest doctor who knows all of our needs.”