A Catholic who seeks inner healing is similar to the traveler on a journey. The Holy Spirit helps him to become aware of his heart wound and mercifully sets him on the road of encounter with Jesus. The healing journey is comparable to the situation of the disciples on the road to Emmaus.
On the day of Christ’s Resurrection, two men were walking to the village of Emmaus. They were discussing all the recent events. They must have been perplexed, their hopes dashed. What were they to make of everything now that Jesus had been crucified? Failure? Then Jesus drew close to them and began to walk and talk with them.
But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation which you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He appeared to be going further, but they constrained him, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem; and . . . told what had happened on the road and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread. (Luke 24:13–17, 28–35)
The journey to Eucharistic healing includes many of the emotions experienced by the disciples on the road to Emmaus. One might be perplexed by a circumstance or become profoundly disappointed that what once looked so promising now is ending in failure. There is a breach that wounds the heart. Jesus draws near, but our eyes are kept from recognizing Him. We are in a state of spiritual blindness and deafness. Our understanding is darkened for a time.
Providence will arrange a surprising encounter in which we can see again. Our eyes will be opened in the breaking of the bread. Our heart will begin to burn with love again. The Eucharist rekindles the fire of love to cauterize the bleeding wound. Jesus turns even painful experiences into something beautiful—in His perfect time. Bitterness fades. Trust is possible again. Christ absorbs the pain. A new journey begins. “[I]f any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17).
In ways seen and unseen the worthy reception of the Eucharist heals sin sickness. I am one who received inner healing through the sacraments of the Church, especially through my daily Eucharistic life. The need began when the pain of two traumas in my family deeply wounded my heart. By the grace of God I came to understand that because of these two traumas, I lost clarity about my true identity. Once secure as a child of God and experiencing only the love of family and friends into my mid-thirties, two traumas, two years apart, caused me to doubt others and myself. Because of cruel words and deeds, a great spiritual battle ensued between the true and false self. In prayer, an inspiration came, “Take care to heal so that you do not project your wounds upon my Body, the Church.” Jesus in the Eucharist became my Divine Physician. At daily Mass and Adoration, divine mercy penetrated my heart wounds, curing the lies of rejection and healing the traumatic memories. Several priests also helped; one personally guided me through the life-changing Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola weekly for a year. I learned to listen, to recognize the still small voice of the Lord, and to know the movements of my own heart—desolation, consolation, discernment, etc.
Prudence requires that we not over spiritualize inner healing, since Christ also heals communally with health professionals. The Catholic Medical Association is a grounded apostolate that supports the healing ministry of the Church. The Church’s healing, deliverance, and exorcism ministry is another way in which Christ heals, and we most often consult with medical professionals. It is not surprising that divine mercy works beautifully through a variety of ways for the care of the beloved. God desires us to be whole and holy.
To Know Yourself in the Gaze of Eucharistic Love
Fr. Jim McManus’s Catholic perspective on healing through forgiveness, and the need for healthy self-esteem for a life of happiness offers good insights. God wills to bring us to a place of joyful, grateful self-acceptance. Fr. McManus calls this a spirituality of true self-esteem wherein we know our true identity as precious children of God. Sometimes we live in the “house of the destructive word” as Fr. Mc Manus terms it. Destructive words impoverish life; hold us back. Constructive words affirm and encourage even when correcting. Healing starts when we move from the “house of the destructive word to the house of the constructive word.” There are so many opportunities to build one another up spiritually and emotionally; too often we do the exact opposite. Other people or the devil, or both, tell us lies about ourselves but Abba Father tells us the truth. Nothing separates us from the love of God. Is Christ enough for you?
Having prayed with, listened to, and counseled countless people at international retreats, I have found a common malady in which people struggle with their identity stemming from what they “do” or “have.” This is contrary to the Catholic perspective of knowing that we are “temples of the Holy Spirit” (cf. 1 Cor. 6:19). The Eucharist beautifies God’s temple.
Fr. McManus understands the separation of psychology and theology, but he sees a synthesis in which our psychological structures relate to our spiritual selves. This challenges core beliefs about the question “Who am I?” Jesus seeks to bring our self-image into alignment with the truth of divine love. The Eucharist can affect this because by it we are incorporated into Incarnate Truth. When we gaze at the Eucharist in Adoration, Christ mirrors our dignity to us and heals our self-esteem according to the biblical truth of His love.
Eucharistic Healing, Resurrection, the Holy Spirit’s work
In the Eucharist we have direct physical contact with Jesus. This is an important distinction. In the Gospel accounts of people being healed, we discover the fact that everyone who touched Jesus was healed. “[T]hey . . . brought to him all that were sick, and begged him that they might only touch the fringe of his garment; and as many as touched it were made well” (Matt. 14:35–36). When we receive the Eucharist, we are touching Jesus, and our communion is physical and spiritual. We touch the Lord as contrite sinners in need of healing medicine and receive Him worthily faithful according to the Church’s norms. The sacraments of Confession and Holy Communion are intersecting rivers of divine mercy for healing.
The Eucharist bridges the gap between fallen humanity and redeemed humanity and prepares us for our glorified humanity in Christ’s second coming. We are in a process of deification through the Eucharistic life. This process is one of healing from fallen nature (sin) to redeemed nature (sanctity) to glorified nature (transforming union with God: beatific vision). The Holy Spirit is the key agent in the process of transformation in Christ, wherein we are healed. St. Paul often speaks of the Holy Spirit, who mercifully penetrates the areas of our personality that would hold us captive. It is the Holy Spirit who breaks open the mysteries of God’s mercy and empowers us to be free. The Holy Spirit brings us to an abiding encounter with Christ in the Eucharist, in which we are grafted like branches onto the vine (cf. John 15:4). This communion is by no means temporary. The physical presence of Christ in the Eucharist is vital because our physicality, our bodies matter as “temples of the Holy Spirit” (cf. 1 Cor. 6:19).
Healing is resurrection. What was dead is brought to life, what was diseased is restored to health, what was infected is made clean again, what was dormant is awakened. The Eucharist affects your resurrection. Fr. Lawrence Lovasik teaches,
“Holy Communion establishes between Jesus Christ and us not merely spiritual contact but physical contact as well through the ‘species’ of bread. The resurrection of the body can be traced from this physical contact with Christ. The resurrected bodies of those who have worthily received the Eucharist during their lifetime will be more strikingly resplendent because of their frequent contact, during life, with the risen Body of their Lord.”
Prayer to Become a Living Monstrance
Lord Jesus, please fashion me into a living Eucharistic monstrance so that I may be a vessel of mercy carrying your love to others. Through our Eucharistic incorporation, grant that I may be a child of the light, salt of the earth, bread for the hungry, water for the thirsty, new wine, and healing oil for others. May people see You in my servant’s heart, You in the light of my eyes, in the warmth of my heart, in the works of my hands, in the words of my voice, in the incense of my prayer, in the lightness of my laughter, in the glistening of my tears, in the lowliness of your creature. Hide me, I pray, in the gilded monstrance of Your merciful heart so that I will be a living monstrance radiating healing rays of mercy.