I’ve just checked through my archives and cannot believe I didn’t write a piece on the Lenten Mission from 2010. In my blog, Spiritual Growth- The God Path June 15, 2011, I told the story of my first experience of Fr. Jim Curtin. Although I tried to get him to come and give a Lenten Mission at our church in the period of Lent 2009, we already had someone booked for that year, so I had to be patient and wait to invite him the following year. He finally came to our church during Lent of 2010 and gave a Healing Prayer Mission which truly rocked our parish. Out of that experience a fledgling Healing Prayer Ministry was established and I guess God realized that we needed a little more help along the path and by some miraculous divine intervention, Fr. Jim was invited once more to present a second Healing Prayer Mission in Lent of this year.
This time around, the Mission was probably even more powerful than the previous year. Fr. Jim brought four of his parishioners with him, two men and two women, all Healing Prayer Ministers. Much of the content was similar to the previous year and yet, somehow, it all seemed new. The first evening was focused on physical healing and Fr. Jim reminded us that Jesus himself invites us to continue his work on earth – and some. “Those who follow Me will do not only the works I do but greater works.” (John 14:12-14). He also pointed out that Jesus’ work was about touching and praying over and healing the sick and even raising the dead.
His subsequent exhortations to his apostles and disciples, his mandate to them if you will, was to do the same and more. In fact the work of the early church was just that: telling the story of Jesus, healing the sick, raising the dead, and forgiving people’s sins – also mandated by Jesus. Somehow, over the centuries the church has moved away from this simple mandate of Jesus. Man-made rules and regulations were established and the church became very “powerful” and political. It is only in recent times, partly because of the changes brought about by Vatican II in the 60’s and partly because of the upsurge of the charismatic movement, that there has been a desire to return to “doing the work of Jesus”.
The second evening of the Mission focused on the the Holy Spirit and how important it was to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. On the third and final evening we heard about healing on the spiritual level. After the presentation each evening, prayer teams would be stationed in the area surrounding the altar and parishioners were invited to come up and ask for healing. It was truly a remarkable experience to watch people go up, be prayed over, and then be “struck” by the Holy Spirit. Many people were so overcome by the Spirit that they “went down” to the floor and lay “resting in the Spirit” for some time.
The fact that people came back to each evening of the Mission was testament itself to their hunger for an experience of the Spirit as well as an indication of the success of the Mission. People from many other churches attended this Mission because they had heard through friends what an impact it had made on their lives the previous year. The church was full all three evenings. My husband had an extremely powerful experience as he requested Baptism in the Holy Spirit. I cannot reveal the details here because that is his story to tell. Suffice to say that it changed him dramatically.
A friend, who I felt inspired to invite to the third night of the Mission, had her own very powerful and personal experience. She was not of our denomination and I remember her saying that never would she have imagined having anything like that experience in a Catholic church. She likened it more to a “revival” than a “mission”. But whatever label she gave it, her experience led her to make a personal decision that she had been hovering over for some time. She has since set up in her own business – a life-long dream.
Since the Mission, Richard and I have felt compelled to become part of the Healing Prayer Ministry. It is growing and blossoming into a fruitful work of the Lord, and we feel blessed and privileged to be a part of this group and to offer this service to our fellow parishioners. As I look back to that conference in 2008 and the growth which has come from that, I am so grateful that I remain ever open to the beckoning of the Spirit.
As I gathered my thoughts together to begin writing about the Healing Prayer Mission at our church last February, I realized that to tell that story I had to go back to October 2008. Without the events of October 2008, we would not have had the Healing Prayer Mission this year. Back in 2008, I crossed paths with a fellow parishioner and friend, Guy, and he told me about a conference that was to take place in Jacksonville, Florida in a couple of weeks.
He knew that I was a Reiki Practitioner and that I referred to myself as a “healer”. The conference was a joint effort of the International Catholic Charismatic Movement and Christian Healing Prayer Ministries and was focused on today’s need for Christians to recognize that Jesus invited us, the church, to continue his work. “Those who follow Me will do not only the works I do but greater works.” (John 14:12-14) After speaking with, Guy I realized that the conference was a week long and would cost quite a bit of money. However, he gave me a name and number to call and invited me to trust.
The next day I called the number and told the gentleman on the other end of the phone that Guy had told me to call. He said, “Ah yes, you need a scholarship; I’ll see you at the conference”. I was blown away. This was no two cent deal. So a week later I attended my first day. I remember feeling a little cautious as I wasn’t quite sure whether I could handle this “charismatic” stuff. By lunch time I was raising my hands to the heavens and praising along side hundreds of strangers from countries all over the globe.
I thoroughly enjoyed the next few days. The people were joyous and worshipped God joyously. The presentations were both informative and interesting. I loved the informal music group and it was easy to begin to feel free and unrestrained as I learned to worship God in another way, no holds barred. Every evening at the end of all the presentations and teaching, Mass was said at 5pm by a different priest. Their were priests from all over the world in attendance and it was beautiful to experience the Mass celebrated by priests from different countries.
On the Thursday evening I had already planned to leave at the end of the presentations because there was an activity that I normally participated in with my Yoga group, and I didn’t want to miss it. However as 5pm rolled on I felt compelled to stay for Mass. I sat quietly waiting and the music group began playing the entrance hymn. People began singing and clapping. Suddenly I was aware of a wave of energy coming from behind me. I turned around and I’m sure my mouth must have gaped open.
There was a large colorful group of people coming down the center aisle. Men and women of different nationalities dressed in their native costumes swung down the aisle smiling, clapping their hands, and singing joyously. Bringing up the rear and rocking and rolling down the aisle was this tall priest who had an energy, a charisma about him that I have rarely experienced in a member of the clergy. As I watched the procession make its way down the aisle I was aware of one strong thought in my head: I have to get this priest to our church; we need this priest at our church.
By the end of Mass and after experiencing his wonderful homily, I was more than determined to make this my goal. My friend Guy was helping behind the scenes at the conference, so before leaving after Mass I sought him out and gave him my “mandate”: whatever you do please get contact information for this priest. And so it came about that Fr. Jim Curtin from St. Dennis’ Parish in Wisconsin came in 2010 to give us our first Lenten Healing Prayer Mission and returned again in Lent this year. My church has never been the same since and we now have our own blossoming Healing Prayer Ministry. Alleluia!!