To tytuł czwartej konferencji Daphe Kilner, którą wygłosiła podczas tegorocznej Majówki w Krakowie - Little Way Healing Ministreis, czyli Mała Droga Uzdrowienia Wewnętrznego. Basia obiecała przetłumaczyć cały tekst na język polski. Nim to nastąpi, zamieszczam wersję anglojęzyczną. Serdecznie dziękuję Daphne za wyrażenie zgody na jej publikację.
"This talk is about Little Way Healing Ministries. Although it doesn’t yet exist in Poland, many Polish people in England have been on a training course there and hope it will be available in Poland before too long, It already exists in the Czech Republic and in Slovakia, I have been at the last three courses in Slovakia, attended by many priests as well as lay people and each time people were very blessed and often their lives were transformed.
I remember one priest in
appeared to be about 50, and arrived looking very serious and rather
worried. He had been talked into coming
and was quite suspicious. But by the end
of the week, he was relaxed, happy and smiling.
I saw him on the last day and thought: ‘Where has he been all week? I don’t remember seeing him.’ My Slovak friend who was interpreting at the
course had the same experience. Then we
realized who it was, looking about 20 years younger! I also found he spoke French so we were able
to have a conversation – my Slovak is pretty limited. He was very ::happy to witness how the prayer
had transformed his life. Slovakia
Little Way Healing Ministries started over 15 years ago. An Augustinian priest, Fr. Lawrence Brassill, was living at Clare Priory, a beautiful and ancient Augustinian house in
Suffolk in . There was a small community of lay people
there, one of whom was a married woman who had been recently widowed. Her name was Mrs. Pauline Edwards. The Prior asked the two of them to work
together praying for healing, so they did. England
Fr. Lawrence is charming with a slight Irish tendency to go off on fascinating tangents. Pauline is from
very down-to-earth and good at keeping to the point, so they make an excellent
team, especially as both are full of the Holy Spirit. Fr. Lawrence says he suspects the Prior
originally asked them to form a team in the hope that Pauline would tidy him
up, as looking smart was not a subject high on his agenda…That may have been
true but I’m sure that the decision was, in fact, prompted by the Holy Spirit
as they are such an inspired team and complement each other so well.
Why did they call this ministry The Little Way Healing Ministries? It was partly because St. Therese of Lisieux played an important part in Pauline’s return to the faith earlier in her life. And it was also because one of the keys to their ministry is ‘becoming small’ in order to allow Jesus and the Holy Spirit all the room they need to heal those they - or we -are praying for.
Fr. Richard Rohr, the Franciscan writer comments on ‘The Little Way’:
Quite simply, both Francis and Thérèse recognized that you come to God not by being strong, but by being weak; not by being right, but through your mistakes; not by self-admiration but by self-forgetfulness. Surprise of surprises! But it shouldn't have been a surprise at all, because both Jesus and Paul taught it rather clearly. Yet it was just too obvious, simple, and counter-intuitive to be true. This teaching utterly levels the playing field of holiness, so all losers can win--which is everybody--if we are honest. This is pure Gospel, in my opinion, and worthy of being called "good news for all the people" (Luke 2:10)
I remember once saying to Lawrence and Pauline: ‘you must get very tired praying for people all day.’ They replied: ‘No, we don’t get tired because we just watch Jesus doing all the healing. We simply facilitate the process and look on with admiration at how creative the Lord always is.’
The kind of prayer they mostly use and teach is known as Healing of Memories. It has been around for many years but they have developed it to a point where it is much more effective. They have done this by introducing a number of other insights from the Gospels, backed up by modern psychology.
Prayer for healing of memories is based on the fact that Jesus is and always has been with us: ‘And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time (Matthew 28:20). We often forget this and as children we may just not have known it. But it has always been true.
We start the prayer by discerning a memory the Lord wants to heal at that time. Sometimes the person being prayed for (let’s refer to her as ‘she’) may have a painful memory that she knows needs healing. If not, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we help her to find one, preferably as a young child. This is because the younger we are the more defenseless we are, so the wounds are deeper.
Then we ask her to see the setting where the incident took place and ask her if she can invite Jesus into the scene. If she is not comfortable with this, we can say: ’would you like Our Lady or someone else you trust to be with you?’ With help she will allow Jesus to come close to her.
When this form of prayer was originally introduced, the next step would be to ask Jesus to show her how He saw the incident and encourage her to have compassion on the perpetrator. But in the Little Way process, she is encouraged to tell Jesus how she felt about it when it was happening. She is encouraged to get in touch with all the feelings of hurt and anger that she has probably been suppressing ever since, perhaps for fifty years or more.
Sometimes people have experienced serious abuse that they have never wanted to admit to others or even to themselves. At other times, negative incidents may appear trivial and yet have long-lasting effects on how people see themselves. But if the hurts are to be healed, the feelings need healing as well as the thoughts. If anger, for example, is simply suppressed, it just comes out sideways in unhealthy ways.
But encouraging people to face and to express long-buried anger is very healing. Jesus can tell us that that He, too, was angry when one of His children was being abused and that gives us permission to feel our own anger.
Christians often feel that anger is bad and simply feel guilty when they feel angry – I know that was how I used to feel. But the feeling of anger is simply a feeling and feelings are neutral, neither good nor bad, they just are. Paul said: ‘Be angry, but sin not.’ Anger can lead us into sin but it is not sinful in itself. Jesus Himself was very angry with the people who were defiling the Temple in Jerusalem. We are temples of the Holy Spirit and God is angry when we are defiled.
In Philippians (2:10-11) it says: ‘But God raised him (Jesus) high and gave him the name which is above all other names so that all beings in heaven, on earth and in the underworld should bend the knee at the name of Jesus and that every tongue should acclaim Jesus Christ as Lord.’ So all those who have offended Jesus will, at some stage, have to bow their knee and ask Him to forgive them.
But Jesus also said that ‘what we do to the least of our brothers, we do to Him.’ (Matthew 25:40). So it follows that what others do to us, they do to Jesus too. In which case they will have to ask for our forgiveness as well.
In the prayer process, after the person has expressed her thoughts and feelings to the aggressor, Jesus will command the aggressor to get on his (or her) knees and beg forgiveness for what they have done. Even if she feels this unlikely to happen, we remind her that, when commanded to do so by Jesus, the person will have no other option. She needs to see them kneeling in front of her, begging her forgiveness and meaning it.
In the next stage, she is asked if she wants, or wants to want, to give some small sign of forgiveness, in order to be in God’s will. This can consist simply of a nod or raising a finger. Often those who have hurt us the most are members of our own families and we are frequently more likely to try to excuse their behaviour than to refuse to forgive them. But we should not allow the person being prayed for to make excuses for the aggressor, this prevents them from acknowledging the very real hurt they suffered and so prevents the fullness of healing that Jesus wants to give them.
After she has decided to forgive the aggressor, and this is simply a decision - it may not involve a feeling - she can ‘see’ them leave the scene. Then she can be alone with Jesus and just bask in His love. When she is ready, we ask her to thank Him for letting her have a share in His suffering and to offer it to Him for the salvation of souls. Often suffering can make us feel we have wasted our lives and to realize that, in Christ, our suffering can be fruitful is healing in itself.
Finally, she is invited to hug her ‘inner child’ and to integrate her into her adult self, together with all the gifts that were crushed out of her.
This may sound like quite a comprehensive account of the way we pray for healing of memories but it is really more of an outline. Fr. Lawrence and Pauline have spent many years developing this ministry under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is a wonderfully effective ministry and they are rightly protective of it. They are keen that all those who practise it should be well-trained before they start to pray in this way.
This is not only to protect the ministry itself but also to protect those being prayed for. We are touching areas of people’s lives that are painful, sometimes very painful, and need to be approached with great sensitivity and with the advantage of good training and experience. This is why they hold a series of training courses throughout the year.
About five years ago Fr. Lawrence and Pauline were giving workshops at Walsingham, an ancient Marian shrine in England, as part of a large annual Charismatic Conference. There were about 20 Slovaks there and I persuaded some of them to come to the workshop. Afterwards Lawrence and Pauline agreed to give a workshop, with translation, for all the Slovaks who were interested - which was all of them!
As a result, two of the group attended courses in England and then returned to help at another course. After that, they invited Fr. Lawrence and Pauline to give a course in Slovakia, and since then two more courses have been held. Wonderful healings have happened and the Superior of one religious order is trying to get as many of his priests as possible onto the next course!
The Slovak courses are organized by Daniela Hrutsova one of the first two from Slovakia to attend a course in England. I was there and I remember her saying that she had trained as a doctor but that after a time practicing medicine, she decided something was missing. So she re-trained as a psychiatrist and as a psycho-therapist. Still she felt something was missing.
At the Little Way Healing of Memories course she said she felt she had finally found the missing element: the spiritual dimension. ‘May the God who gives us peace make you completely His, and make your whole being, spirit soul and body, free from all fault…He who calls you will do it, for He is faithful’. (I Thess. 5:23,24). Those of you who can read English or Czech can read her complete testimony in Pauline’s book.
When Daniela began to organize the courses in Slovakia, I remembered a time, several years earlier, when we had been praying together. I had had a picture for her, a form of ‘word of knowledge’, one of the charismatic gifts. It was a picture of a fountain that was overflowing with water. At the time we didn’t understand what it meant but now we believe that, as well as her professional activity, it referred especially to the Little Way Healing Ministries which give ‘living water’ and new life to so many.
In the Little Way Healing Ministries there is quite a strong emphasis on helping those being prayed for to get in touch with their pain and anger, and to express it. This could give the impression that the Christian teaching on forgiveness was not being given its true place. But we would say that, in fact, the contrary is true. It is only when we are in touch with our feelings of pain and anger that we realize what it is we need to forgive. And it is only then that we can forgive thoroughly.
Forgiveness, as you have doubtless been told already, is not a question of feeling forgiving – it is a decision! We may not feel very forgiving but if we know that God forgives us and asks us to do the same for others, then we can decide to forgive in order to be in the will of God. A change in our feelings may follow this decision but it does not need to come first.
On the course we do an exercise to reveal to us the effects of unforgiveness. Someone draws on a large sheet of paper the outline of a person, someone suffering from unforgiveness. It’s not artistic: just a head, a body, arms and legs. Then all those attending the course are invited to call out the emotions that result from unforgiveness. You can suggest some of these yourselves.
These feelings cover the whole range of negative emotions: from anger, sadness, resentment, shame etc. to feelings and thoughts of hatred, hopelessness, suicide or even murder. They are extremely toxic!
Then another body is drawn: someone who has decided to forgive, to let go of any feelings of revenge and to forgive the other person and, if necessary, to forgive themselves as well. What feelings follow forgiveness? Relief, peace, lightness, compassion and joy.
Somebody I knew once told a lot of lies about me. I decided to forgive them, more for my sake than for theirs because I was convinced that unforgiveness was a bad idea! But I still felt hurt and somewhat angry. I spoke to a good friend, a wise and elderly nun and expressed the anger I felt about the lies this woman had told about me. She said: ‘whenever you think of this person, ask God to bless them.’ I did and it worked. There is an expression in English that says ‘hurt people hurt people’. I knew this women had received many hurts and I could feel compassion for her. But first I needed to acknowledge my anger.
Forgiving someone is not the same as justifying their actions. I wasn’t saying that telling lies was OK. It’s not. We have to recognize that wrong has been done in order to forgive. If we justify an action there is nothing to forgive!
On the subject of forgiveness, I would like to say how important it is to forgive ourselves. Refusing to forgive ourselves is just as damaging, perhaps more so, than refusing to forgive others. When we don’t forgive ourselves we are ‘a house divided’ and not at peace. We need to admit we are not perfect but that God loves us as we are.
In the Little Way Healing Ministries many people are deeply touched by the Lord and healed in mind, body or spirit, perhaps all three areas at once. They realize, perhaps for the first time, that Jesus really is alive today, that He is with them even when they are not aware of His presence and how much He loves them. This is really good news: Jesus is alive!
This makes them want to witness to others this good news and they do. Fr. Lawrence and Pauline often emphasise that this ministry is not simply about healing, it is about evangelisation, about spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ.
I remember someone commenting on Jesus’s proclamation: ‘Repent and believe the Good News!’. This priest, I forget who it was, said: ‘The first thing most of us need to repent of (i.e. to think again about) is that we don’t fully believe the Good News! Do we really believe that Jesus is alive and well today, that He is still forgiving sinners (that’s all of us!), healing the sick and casting out evil spirits, just as He did on earth? Today He uses the prayers of the members of His Body on earth (i.e. us), together with those of the saints in heaven, to heal and deliver, and this really is Good News that we can witness to!
But we may need to see this happening for ourselves, or better still experience it, before we can fully believe it. That is one reason why this ministry is important and a real gift of God for our times. I hope what you have heard today will inspire some of you to go on these courses and to bring this beautiful ministry to your country.
As I was preparing this talk, I thought of all the Polish airmen who came to England and fought so bravely in the Battle of Britain (as it was called) in World War II. Many of them gave their lives at that time and they were a great gift from Poland to Britain. It would be wonderful if we could give to Poland the gift of the Little Way Healing Ministries with all the new life which that brings.