“Well, at least you still have your health,” was the constant comfort given by the elders when I grew up. If you lost your job, someone would say, “well, at least you still have your health.” If your children were being difficult, you were reassured, “well, at least you still have your health.” There was an assumption that the baseline for gratitude in all forms of adversity was physical health.
Health is very much on our minds these days. The fear of contracting COVID or not getting our other health needs met because COVID is taking so much time and space in our medical system. Ill-health is the looming worry of the world.
Everyone at some point in their life struggles with losing their health. Sometimes this is temporary and sometimes it is permanent but, in every circumstance, not being sound in body, mind and spirit makes it difficult to deal with other trials in our life.
Perhaps this is why Jesus spent so much of his ministry tending to the physical suffering of people. The Scriptures are replete with tales of God healing all manner of ailments. Rooted in this heritage, from the first apostles to those who anoint the ill and dying in hospitals and at bedsides today, the Church has continued this miraculous ministry of healing wounded bodies and souls. No less miraculous is the work of medical professionals using scientific knowledge and talent to heal wounds, cure illness and save lives minute by minute around the world.
In gratitude for all those who participate in the healing power of God, I offer this prayer:
Healer of All, pour out your blessing on those who bring your healing love to the world …
… on those who heal our senses. We pray for ophthalmologists and audiologists, dentists and dermatologists. We pray for speech and language pathologists. As they guide us to wholeness of our physical senses, may we also seek to overcome spiritual blindness and deafness. Help all your people to taste and see, to touch and embrace your goodness.
… on those who heal our minds. We pray for psychologists and psychiatrists, therapists and counsellors. May they cooperate with you, God, in transforming our sorrows into joys and our hurts into compassion. With their help, may we learn to forgive ourselves and those who have harmed us and rest with childlike trust in your beloved care.
… on those who heal our vital organs. We pray for cardiologists, respirologists and endocrinologists, for nutritionists and dietitians. May the Sacred Heart who enlivens the Body of Christ guide their nimble hands and discerning minds. May we all grow in wholeness so that our hearts course not only with blood but with love and that our lungs breathe in not only oxygen but kindness and compassion. May we work tirelessly for the purification and nourishment of our bodies, our spirits and creation itself.
… on those who help us move. We pray for occupational and physical therapists, massage therapists and chiropractors. May the Lord of the Dance, inspire all who ensure the free movement of our bodies. May our broken bones be strengthened and our tired muscles be soothed so that we may leap for joy, paint with artistry, and delight in all the feats our bodies can accomplish.
… on those who respond in times of tragedy. We pray for doctors and nurses who work in trauma centres and emergency rooms, for paramedics and pandemic practitioners. We pray for oncologists, radiologists and surgeons of all sorts. Give them strength and resilience as they minister to your people in the most extreme of life’s circumstances. Help us always to remember that no calamity is beyond the reach of your merciful, compassionate love.
… on the people who heal at the beginnings and ends of our lives. We pray for gynecologists and neonatal health care workers, for gerontologists and palliative care givers. At the times when we are coming from the heart of God and returning to it, grant your servants an abundance of reverence and compassion. Help all of us to regard the gift of our lives with awe and wonder, cherishing every moment as sacred and precious.
… on those who provide spiritual healing. We pray for hospital chaplains, for priests and ministers. Give them wisdom and prayerfulness to sooth our worried souls. Inspire their speech to comfort and console. Help us to attend to our need for spiritual care with the same ardour as we attend to our physical care and, in so doing, become closer to you.
May all who share your love in the healing arts, also experience that love in their own lives. Strengthen them with the knowledge that they are your servants, your instruments, your loving hands.
(I have named only a fraction of health care professionals. If you have been excluded from those named, please alter the prayer to include your particular profession.)
Christine Way Skinner is a lay minister and author. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Theology degree from St. Francis Xavier University and a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School. Christine loves trying to find inclusive, compelling and creative ways to pass on the church’s 2000 year old traditions. She also loves art, playing music, reading, gardening and playing board games with her children. Among Christine’s numerous publications is the Catholic Kid’s Library Series and There Must be a Pony in Here Somewhere.