Church is for a holistic healing

The painting is a montage of nurse, doctor, priest and nun with that typical red cross and stethoscope to reflect well the healing mission of the Church which is a continuation of the mission of the One who healed the lepers, the blind, the paralyzed and the demoniac.

Church is for a holistic healing

“Better a poor man strong and robust, than a rich man with wasted frame. More precious than gold is health and well-being, contentment of spirit than coral.” Over the centuries Roman Catholic Church has taken very seriously these words from Sirach 30. As a result the Church has become the largest non-government health provider of the world which is so much evident in these days of corona pandemic.

Bestowing the award Pride of Gujarat on Christ Hospital, Rajkot, first COVID-19 hospital in the state shows how a predominantly non-Christian milieu looks at Church’s involvement with healthcare. This month’s Living in Faith has the front cover that artistically brings to you this core aspect of the Church’s mission.

The painting is a montage of nurse, doctor, priest and nun with that typical red cross and stethoscope to reflect well the healing mission of the Church which is a continuation of the mission of the One who healed the lepers, the blind, the paralyzed and the demoniac.

By pronouncing the words “your sins are forgiven” before a physical healing, Jesus wanted all to know that his ministry of healing is both psychological and physiological. That is why Pope Francis said, “The thing the Church needs most today is the ability to heal the wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful.” In fact, Church’s healing ministry is well within the wider ambit of its pastoral care which is in fact, part of a sociological care and healing. Church not only wants a healed individual but it also wants a healed society as well as history, because without these latter two even the healthy individuals will soon become sick. This holistic healing is what several religious congregations involved in health mission are doing.

The Medical Mission Sisters (MMS) founded by Dr. Anna Dengel in 1925 born out of her experience in northern India where Muslim women could not go to get medical service from male doctors, is a telling instance. So a healed society is equally important for Church’s medical mission to be effective.

Catholic missionaries are working in far-flung areas and even in dangerous situations fighting many superstitious beliefs that militate against modern medical science and medicines. In such situations, sometimes their life itself is in danger from the people whom they want to serve. Church’s medical care, therefore, is an education programme against unhealthy social outlook and beliefs. That is why Rachel Naomi Remen said,”Healing may not be so much about getting better, as about letting go of everything that isn’t you – all of the expectations, all of the beliefs – and becoming who you are.”

It is gratifying to note that thousands of Catholics are involved in this difficult ministry of healing even in societies which have attitudes and beliefs that militate against their mission, yet they do it with selfless commitment and dedication.--Dr. Sr. Wilma Vadakepeedika, DGO, St. Ann’s Hospital, Aurangabad

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