Q: Fr. Paul, I am not sure if this question fits into your blog, but the liturgy did come to my mind when I read this document from the USCCB statement on Raiki:
Recently, I had an individual approach me about Raiki and I was completely unfamiliar with the practice. I found a document put out by the USCCB which I referenced above. In reading the document, they seem to discredit the practice as superstition and not potential supernatural healing.
The main argument is given here: “ To bring Reiki into conformity with the Christian understanding of supernatural healing, the idea of the practitioner’s control, which is central to Reiki practice, would have to be eliminated. If one were to reduce Reiki to another way of praying to God for healing, there would be nothing left of Reiki; all the training and practices that are specific to Reiki, such as the attunements and hand positions, would be meaningless. For a Catholic, our prayers for healing are directed to God, who alone truly heals by divine power.“
Having gone through my formation to become a Deacon, I am aware of all the wonderful classes which taught us the importance of saying specific words, using specific elements and specific hand gestures to properly call upon Gods grace in various sacraments and the liturgy.
Is there a contradiction here? I would love your insight and correction if I am misunderstanding something.
A: I was unfamiliar with Reiki too. You ask an intriguing question about the expectations of the words and actions of the Mass. I’d summarize the main difference this way: If Reiki is the practitioner controlling supernatural assistance, then liturgy is the practitioner begging for supernatural assistance.
The expectations surrounding the words and actions of the Catholic liturgy are more about ensuring that the practitioner doesn’t walk down a path destined to fail. If we don’t use elements we believe are divinely instituted, we’ll get nowhere. But when we do, we trust that God will respond.
With regard to the Mass, we are entering into the paschal mystery each time. We are not controlling a new divine intervention, but entering the one mystery that Christ accomplished through his own cross and resurrection.
With regard to healing, we cannot control God. We offer the best prayers we know, supported by reasons intended to evoke a favorable response. But the result does not belong to the prayers we say. It belongs to God.