Words of healing, hope at Catholic Charismatic Conference
Photo Caption: “Jesus knows where we need to be healed,” said Father Paul Burak, one of the speakers at the July 30-31 Catholic Charismatic Renewal Conference in Peoria.
By: By Jennifer Willems
In a world that moves quickly, constantly and with a great deal of noise, the concept of healing can be puzzling.
“Healing often is not instant. It is a long-term process,” Father Paul C. Burak told about 400 people who gathered last weekend at the Holiday Inn City Centre in Peoria for the 24th annual Catholic Charismatic Renewal Conference.
“Healing is slow and gentle and loving,” said the priest, who led the conference’s healing service on Saturday, July 31. “It is a slow process of being overwhelmed by the Spirit and the love of Jesus Christ.”
“The Loving Heart of Jesus” was the theme for the conference, which also included talks by John Labriola, author, radio host and founder of the Catholic Family Foundation, and a DVD presentation given by Anne, a lay apostle of Jesus Christ the Returning King. Labriola stood in for Anne, who could not attend because of illness.
Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, greeted those who attended the conference and celebrated a Mass of the Holy Spirit for them on Friday, July 30.
“Sometimes, when I’m out here and there around the diocese, I think, ‘What am I going to do to fire up this group of Catholics?’ I never have to worry about that when I’m with you,” he said. Charismatic Catholics emphasize the living presence of the Holy Spirit in the church.
In his homily, Bishop Jenky urged his listeners to be devoted to Mary, saying that she didn’t always understand what Jesus was about but was willing to follow him as a disciple as she “pondered all these things in her heart.”
“She is the one who still prays in the Spirit for and with the church,” he said.
ATTITUDES OF PRAYER
People of faith need to have an attitude — or rather, four attitudes when it comes to healing prayer, according to Father Burak. The first is an attitude of expectant faith.
“We expect Jesus to work, but Jesus knows where we need to be healed,” said the priest, who is pastor at St. Michael’s Parish in Orland Park and has been involved in Catholic Charismatic Renewal for more than 20 years.
“I might think I know what needs to happen, but Jesus knows me better than I know myself,” Father Burak explained.
The second attitude will take disciples into the Garden of Gethsemane with Jesus, who prayed, “Father, not my will but your will be done.”
The third attitude of faith that is helpful is a belief in redemptive suffering, he told his listeners, noting that this asks disciples to offer their suffering to Jesus so he can use it to redeem souls.
“When we offer our pain to Jesus, there is a feeling of peace,” Father Burak said, speaking from experience. He is a cancer survivor.
“It was a very scary journey, a very painful journey,” he shared. “But in spite of all I went through, I can thank Jesus for the gift of my cancer.”
What Father Burak learned is that “every moment of my life is a gift” and “I will never take any person or any experience for granted.” He also refuses to let “the busyness outside of me get inside of me.”
“Cancer taught me to be slow and quiet and to listen to Jesus,” he said, adding that he never lets anything get in the way of that prayer time.
Finally, it is not for our own sakes that healing occurs, Father Burak said.
“We must ask, ‘Heal me so I can be a better servant,'” he explained. “That’s why Jesus heals us — so we can be better servants to others.”
FORGIVENESS IS KEY
Father Burak and Labriola both agreed that forgiveness must be key in the life of a disciple.
“One of the greatest hindrances to healing is a lack of forgiveness,” Father Burak said, who noted that forgiveness is not a feeling, but an act of will.
He acknowledged that sometimes reconciliation doesn’t take place here on earth, but in heaven. “We have to leave it in the hands of Jesus.”
For Labriola, “when we have unforgiveness in our hearts, we have unforgiveness in our souls.”
Leaning on the Baltimore Catechism, he said prayer is vital to people of faith because they cannot serve the Lord unless they love him and they cannot love the Lord unless they know him.
Prayer is about relationship, he said, quoting the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
“If our prayer life is not so good, our relationship with God will not be so good,” Labriola explained. “We should never judge another person’s prayer because that means we are judging his relationship with God.”
In the end, all prayer is a gift and a grace and our cooperation with that grace allows us to open and use our gifts, he said.
In her DVD presentation, Anne, a wife and mother of six children who lives in Ireland, said Jesus is counting on us to promote renewal by allowing his grace to flow through us.
One way of increasing our holiness is by “climbing the mountain.” Jesus is at the top of that mountain, we are at the bottom, and the world is behind us, she said.
The climb is hard, but people of faith have to keep their faces turned toward Jesus and keep climbing, Anne said, noting that when things go wrong it’s usually because we’re facing the world instead of Jesus.
The sacraments, silence and prayer all help to keep us on track, she said.
Lori Harroun, the conference chairperson and a member of St. Patrick’s Church of Merna in Bloomington, said people came from as far away as the state of Wyoming to attend this year’s gathering. She said she hopes they will return home with a deeper love of Jesus and realize how much he loves them in return.
Helping to spread that message in songs of praise and worship was a diocesan charismatic choir under the direction of Mary Delgado, a member of the Spirit of Love Disciples Prayer Group at St. Edward’s Parish in Chillicothe.