healing ministry in the Church. Photo: Cathopic

Do I Need Healing? Human Wounds and the Ministry of Healing in the Church. Interview with Father Miguel Guerra, LC (Part II)

What must be taken into account before taking part in a retreat of healing so as not to be disappointed? Is the human being more wounded today than at other times? Father Miguel Guerra answers these and other questions in this second part of the interview. 

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(ZENIT News / Mexico City, 16.06.2022).- Over the last few years, healing ministries have grown in the Catholic Church, but not only in the Church. In secular environments there is also talk of them and “healing retreats” are promoted. Father Miguel Guerra, LC, has dedicated himself over the last years to reflect further on this area. His reflection has gone hand in hand with experiences of Catholic healing retreats in which many people have taken part. It’s a subject that seems to need further study. Therefore, in Part II of the interview (Part I was published yesterday and can be read in the link at the end of this second part) , Father Miguel addresses other questions in this context of wounds and healing.

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Question: It’s comprehensible that, taking advantage of people’s good faith, especially of wounded people, there are different “healing” proposals, also outside of the Catholic realm, by others who only want to do business with people. What should someone take into account before deciding to take part in a healing retreat so as not to be deceived?

Answer: The Christin perspective focuses on the Redeemer. Perhaps this is a first criterion of discernment when it comes to looking at the different healing realities that exist in the world. It’s not about putting at the center of one’s life a human person with a certain charism but a Divine Person, Giver of all goods and charisms. 

Another important aspect is the offer of someone who suggests healing proposals. To what am I referring? If the objective is only to heal, I would have my reservations, as healing isn’t an end as such, but a means. The end is Christ, his person, his friendship, his love . . . Benedict XVI explained it during an audience with these words:

Supported in thanksgiving, Jesus’ prayer reveals to us how to petition: before the petition is granted, Jesus adheres to the One that gives and who gives Himself in His gifts. The Giver is more precious than the gift given; He is the “treasure,” and the heart of his Son is in Him; the gift is given as an addition” (cf. Matthew 6:21 and 6:33) (n. 2604). This seems very important to me: before the gift is given, it’s necessary to adhere to the One who gives; the Giver is more precious than the gift. Hence, for us also, beyond what God gives us when we invoke Him, the greatest gift He can give us is his friendship, his presence, his love. He is the precious treasure to be requested and guarded always (Benedict XVI, General Audience of December 14, 2011). 

Finally, there are some elements that exist, in the experience of a healing retreat, which could result in hurting the person who seeks to be healed, so that it would be dangerous to attend a retreat with someone who manifests characteristics such as these: little formation and prudence, absolutisms and lack of balance, personal leaderships, exaggerated interest in gifts, attraction that is eminently geared to the emotional dimension, rupture of communion and obedience to the ecclesiastical authorities or Religious Superiors. 

Question: You are a Religious of a Congregation that has also gone through a painful wound. What reading do you make of this ministry that you carry out at present  through Restáurame and the story or your own vocation and, if it can also be said of the Congregation to which you belong? 

Answer: The history of the Legion of Christ bears the profound wound of the “Father.” In the course of these years, ”we have had to “experience the grave consequences of our Founder’s crimes and those of other Legionaries at the personal and institutional level, and also the consequences left in the lives of other people in the course of our history” [2]. To acknowledge and accept in our history the criminal behaviour of the Founder, as well as the illusion of sanctity that he was able to create in his double life, has been a great step towards the personal healing of every Legionary and of the institution as a whole. “There is no one among us who was not wounded in some way during this very traumatic period. We didn’t expect it and we certainly didn’t ask for it” [3]. 

The healing is intimately related to the history and, in the healing, it’s normal to appeal to the memory to heal at the root any emotional, spiritual or psychological wound, which is always subjective, as it depends on each one and how he will integrate the painful events in his own life, not so for what happened. Only in the experience of our own redemption will we be able to help a world, which is increasingly wounded, in its search for a Saviour. 

Without a doubt the period of renewal has been a special time of grace, but not exempt from much pain. Today, in the light of all these years and with greater serenity, we can see the fruits. Of particular relevance is that, in the first moments of our crisis, there was much confusion, mistrust and darkness. At that time, after the Founder’s death, comments were made among the different members of Regnum Christi and of the Legion that caused objective or subjective wounds. There were individuals who felt judged unjustly and rashly. Others felt repressed or relegated. There were those that suffered  pain to see the formators abandon the Legion and the Movement. Some lay individuals felt wounded when Legionaries and members of the consecrated branches  — who were their confidants, confessors and spiritual directors — abandoned their consecration, sometimes even in a scandalous way. Some felt betrayed by a branch of the Federation, others felt deceived . . . 

Each one is burdened with his personal history, sometimes with wounds that existed prior to their entering the Legion or the Regnum Christi. Has there not been among us a Director or Superior who felt misunderstood? Who hasn’t been criticized or even calumniated in the apostolate sometimes? Perhaps someone has felt wounded on being removed from an office, or reprimanded in a way that he thought was unjust. Also the experience of personal sin, although already absolved, can bear a psycho-emotional wound that needs to be healed. It’s precisely in the darkest moments of our institutional and personal history where Jesus wants to enter to shed light and to heal, even if pain is entailed on accepting the facts, or fear generated at the moment of addressing them. 

Hence, in the process of personal and institutional healing, we must avoid “the temptation not to integrate our history, not to see it as history of salvation and not see them as fecund wounds to give witness of God’ love and mercy” [4]. In any case, the contemplation of a more objective and redeemed truth will lead us to “be grateful children [with the Church] and to proclaim the Gospel of the mercy that heals, restores and drives us” [5]. From this perspective we can see how the Holy Spirit is leading us, from our history as a broken spiritual family, to heal the broken families of our present-day society, of the people with whom we work today. 

The proposal is to go where the Holy Spirit leads us, without any fear, given that fear is an unconscious projection of our insecurities. At the same time, “the challenge [facing us] is the projection of a sort of eschatology of the memory and, after it, of the history. This eschatology is structured from and around the desire of a happy and tranquil memory” [6], which contemplates the gift of forgiveness of the scandals committed, as well as of the misunderstandings between branches of the Federation. 

Question: Taking up somewhat what I asked earlier . . . What relation is there between a charism, such as that of the Legionaries or the Regnum Christi, with a ministry of healing in the Church? Or even more profoundly can any charism in the Church derive in a ministry of healing? 

Answer: I’m going to allow myself to address this question and reformulate it from another perspective. Why is a charism, such as that of the Regnum Christi, not be able to be expressed also with a ministry of healing in the Church? To answer this, I consider very valuable a text of Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium 130-131:

The Holy Spirit also enriches the whole evangelizing Church with  different charisms. They are gifts to renew and edify the Church They are not a closed patrimony, given to a group to guard; rather, they are gifts of the Spirit integrated in the ecclesial body, attracted to the center that is Christ, from whence they are channelled as an evangelizing impulse. A clear sign of the authenticity of a charism  is its ecclesiality, its capacity to be integrated harmoniously in the life of the Holy People of God for the good of all. A true novelty of the Spirit doesn’t need to cast shadows on other spiritualities and gifts to affirm itself. In  the measure in which a charism directs the sight better to the heart of the Gospel, the more ecclesial will be its exercise. Although it might hurt, it is in communion where a charism becomes authentic and mysteriously fruitful. If this challenge exists, the Church can be a model for peace in the world. The differences between people and communities at times are uncomfortable, but the Holy Spirit, who arouses that diversity, can draw something good from everything and change it into an evangelizing dynamism that acts by attraction. Diversity must always be reconciled with the help of the Holy Spirit; only He can arouse diversity, plurality, multiplicity and, at the same time, bring about unity. Instead, when we are the ones who attempt diversity and shut ourselves in our particularisms, in our exclusivities, we cause division and, on the other hand, when we are the ones who want to build unity with our human plans, we end up by imposing uniformity, homologation. This doesn’t help the mission of the Church (Evangelii Gaudium, 130-131). 

Perhaps we are in a time in which the Holy Spirits wants to renew His action in the world, not only through the Sacraments instituted by the Church [7], but by His graces and gifts that surpass any human expectation. Hence the fact that 

the development of the ecclesial community doesn’t depend only  on the institution of the ministries and of the Sacraments, but it’s also stimulated by the unforeseen and free gifts of the Spirit, who also work beyond all the established channels. Through these special graces, it is manifest that the universal priesthood of the ecclesial community is guided by the Spirit with a sovereign liberty (“as He wills,” says Saint Paul: 1 Corinthians 12:11), which sometimes astonishes [8]. 

Question: Finally, do you think that human beings are more wounded today than before? Why yes or why not , and how does the Church respond or can respond  in face of this juncture? 

Answer: In the personal I wouldn’t say “more wounded” or “less wounded” than before . . . I would simply say that we have always been wounded – with or without awareness – and that, in the course of this life in pilgrimage to eternal life, we will continue to be so to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the personal work of interior healing. 

The Church, Mystical Body of Christ, offers the answer in the One who is her Head – everything spring from there: we are justified, redeemed, saved and restored by Him. Healing isn’t the fruit of methodologies or pre-established ways, but the Spirit’s action in us. In the end, He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

First part of this interview. 

 

 

Footnotes:

[1] Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction on Prayers to Obtain Healing from God, September 14, 2000. 

[2] John Connor, September 15, 2021.

[3] Idem

[4] Idem

[5] Greeting to the Holy Father Francis transmitted by the Directors General of the Legionaries of Christ, of the Consecrated Women of the Regnum Christ and of the Consecrated Men of he Regnum Christi, February 29, 2020.

[6] Paul Ricoeur, Memory, History, Forgetfulness, Trotta Publishers, Madrid, 2010, p. 597. 

[7] Lumen Gentium, 12: Moreover, the Holy Spirit Himself not only sanctifies and directs the People of God through the Sacraments and the Mysteries and adorns it with Virtues, but He also distributes special graces  among faithful of different conditions, distributing to each His gifts as He wills (1 Corinthians 12:11), with which He makes them apt and ready to carry out the different works and duties that are useful for the renewal and greater edification of the Church, according to those words: “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:7). 

[8] John Paul II, General Audience, June 24, 1992.

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Jorge Enrique Mújica

Licenciado en filosofía por el Ateneo Pontificio Regina Apostolorum, de Roma, y “veterano” colaborador de medios impresos y digitales sobre argumentos religiosos y de comunicación. En la cuenta de Twitter: https://twitter.com/web_pastor, habla de Dios e internet y Church and media: evangelidigitalización."

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