Expert Answer Forum
Catholic Charismatic 'annointing'? QUESTION from Kathleen April 5, 1999 Shall I permit a well meaning Catholic who considers herself a 'charismatic'to lay hands on my husband and pray over him with the intention of healing? I skirted the issue and managed to put her off temporarily because I thought that to permit this sort of 'laying on of hands' pomulgates a sense that this is somehow the same as a sacramental annointing by a priest. I know she means well though. Am I being too regimented in my thinking about this? As a teacher of adult converts, my practice of the faith must be exact and ONLY that which the Church approves. My well meaning friend wanted to make a time for her to come over and 'lay hands' and pray over my husband and I just avoided the issue rather than directly telling her that I don't consider it appropriate. I did thank her for her prayers but never did 'find time'. How do you gently guide people in this regard? Thanks, Kathe
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius on April 9, 1999 Dear Kathleen:
Thanks for your question.
If these people are using blessings and prayers that a priest would use; and/or are using oil, then I would ask them not to do it. We need to be careful about getting too close to the function of a priest. Further, I don't believe laymen can use oil since oil is closely associated with the sacramental function on the priesthood.
I have written the Vatican to get a definitive decision on the oil issue, but have not yet received a reply on that.
As for laying on of hands in general, we can pray for each other and touch each other in prayer, but again, what these people do should not be imitating the Sacrament of Annointing that only a priest can do.
In addition, I would check on whether these people are orthodox and loyal to the Church in ALL things.
To put it bluntly, people in the Charismatic Movement tend to judge things on emotions rather than reason. Sometimes this emotional orientation rises to the level the Church calls sensualism -- it is nearly an worship of emotions.
But even if not rising to that level, when we judge things through emotion we are asking to be wrong. Emotion taints our view.
In addition, the many Charismatics are well-known to be way out-of-balance in their theology and practice of the gifts of the spirit such as tongues, healing, miracles and the like.
So the bottom line, is that I would not recommend allowing these people to do this unless you know them to be VERY solid Catholics, loyal Catholics, with a level-headed and REASONED approach to the subject of Spiritual Gifts and the nature of praying for healing.
In addition, we do have to be careful about allowing people to lay hands on us. When someone lays hands on us a transferance can take place concerning demonic issues. This is why I would want to know the person's orthodoxy, loyalty and level-headedness and theology about spirtiual gifts before allowing them to lay hands upon me.
As to how to deal with people who offer this? I have a chronic illness myself. People have offered to pray over me for healing. In my case, the illness is a blessing and I do not activley seek healing. Instead I ask the people to pray for God's will. If it is God's will for me to be healed, great; if not, great... praise God either way.
In your case, I would simple thank them for the offer, but that you dont think laying on of hands is necessary (or you can say you don't feel comfortable with that) and would appreciate rather that they remember you in their prayers.
If the people get pushy about it, then you will have to say bluntly that you are not interested. (by the way, if they get pushy about it, that is a sure sign that they are NOT balanced with the Holy Spirit on this and I would certainly NOT have them lay hands on me).
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