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!!
In the first place, it’s quite amazing that I, a true-born Brit raised on cricket, rugby, and English football (soccer), should be sitting here writing with enthusiasm about a typical American game. But when I married Richard, apart from marrying a military man, I also married a die-hard Cowboys fan. So it isn’t so strange that, by osmosis, I was drawn to American football and eventually became an "almost” die-hard Cowboys follower.
I say almost because I don’t quite have the depth of pure reverence that Richard has in his bones for the cowboys. I do not worry too much if for some reason we cannot watch the game on TV, whereas he will fret and do everything in his power to remedy this situation. When we do watch the game, even though I will get excited and shout along with the rest of them, I somehow lack that piece of fan-hood that gets me out of my seat in our living room, jumping up and down, ranting at a bad play or a bad call, or pacing the floor, like an expectant first time father, at crucial moments of the game.
Speaking of reverence, I will never forget that time when we drove up to Charlotte, North Carolina to watch the Cowboys play the Carolina Panthers. The game was played on Christmas Eve of 2005. Richard had arranged the hotel stay and tickets through a special group in Texas who follow the Cowboys wherever they play. We were actually staying at the same hotel as the team members.
I had never seen Richard so exited before then. He was literally like a kid in a toy store. Camera in hand, he hung around the reception area in the hopes of catching a glance, of being able to breathe the same air as one of his “Boys”. My daughter and I joined him at some point for this vigil just as a group of team members came through and graciously stopped for a few brief moments to acknowledge their fans. Richard had stars in his eyes and was totally elated at this experience.
We went out afterwards to have a meal, and on the way down in the elevator we found ourselves face to face with one of the players. I thought I was going to have to put a ball and chain on Richard’s leg to keep him anchored to the ground! As we retired for the night, I was already in bed and Richard turned off the light to come and join me. As he placed one knee on the mattress to climb into bed he hesitated a moment, raised his eyes to the ceiling, and reverently said, “The Cowboys are sleeping just above me.”
All this aside, there is nothing quite like going to a live football game, especially if it entails seeing your dedicated team. There is an energy that is quite unique, almost tangible, as you join the flow of fans from the parking lot to the stadium. There is a hum and a buzz, an expectancy in the air. The fans from the two teams usually engage in good natured bantering and teasing among themselves, yet below the surface there is an earnest seriousness to all such exchanges.
As we entered the stadium in Tampa a few weeks ago, just as we did in Charlotte back in 2005, we could feel the excitement mounting. Even I, an “osmosis fan” was ready for a good game. Cowboys fans travel well and we were surrounded by the white, blue and silver of our T-shirts and the symbolic Cowboys’ stars reined supreme. The smell of hotdogs permeated the air as groups of fans began chanting their team’s slogans in full-throated support.
Considering the amount of beer that is consumed at football games, the fans are pretty much well-behaved. Occasionally tempers, fuelled by the alcohol, spill out into semi-serious arguments. But for the most part these flare-ups are short lived. The focus is on the game and the enjoyment of being a fan and supporting your team.
The Tampa game was exciting – for us at least. The Cowboys were first to put points on the scoreboard, but then it was a back-and-forth score and both teams were fairly evenly matched. But towards the end of the third quarter and as the fourth quarter unfolded, the Boys took the upper hand and, cheered on by their faithful fans, they scored two touchdowns in quick succession and the Buccaneers’ fans began to leave the stadium in droves.
The sweet taste of a win always makes the enjoyment of the game so much greater. As we headed back to the hotel to load the bike for our ride home, we were aware of a sense of satisfaction, a joyfulness of heart, a contentment that we carried with us all the way back to Jacksonville. And our prayer of gratitude for a safe ride home also included a special thank-you to God for a good game and a Cowboys’ win!
If you laugh a lot, when you get older your wrinkles will be in all the right places. (Andrew Mason)
The best laughter, the laughter that can heal, the laughter that has the truest ring, is the laughter that flowers out of a love for life and its Giver. (Maxine Hancock)
One loses so many laughs by not laughing at oneself. (Sara Jeannette Duncan)
There is an intimate laughter to be found only among friends. (Maya Angelou)
Good humor is one of the best articles of dress one can wear in society. (William Makepeace Thackeray)
Laughing at ourselves as well as with each other gives a surprising sense of togetherness. (Hazel C. Lee)
I dare you to do something today that will make you giggle. (Luci Swindoll)
A little comic relief in a discussion does no harm however serious the topic may be. In my own experience the funniest things have occurred in the gravest and most sincere conversations. (C.S. Lewis)
Laughter is a noisy smile! (Steven Goldberg)
You grow up the day you have your first real laugh - at yourself. (Ethel Barrymore)
Laugh at yourself before anyone else can! (Elsa Maxwell)
Joyfulness keeps the heart and face young. A good laugh makes us better friends with ourselves and everybody around us. (Orison Swett Marden)
Laughter is the sensation of feeling good all over and showing it principally in one place. (Josh Billings)
There is nothing like a mouthful of laughter. Get some for yourself. (Barbara Johnson)
Laughing heartily a hundred times a day has the same beneficial effects as ten minutes on a rowing machine. (Dr. William Fry)
Laughter is a tranquilizer with no side effects. (Arnold Glasow)
God is at home in the play of His children. He loves to hear us laugh. (Peter Marshall