Medicine and mir­a­cles

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - OPINION - PROSY BADIOLA TORRE CHANTE

When you are se­ri­ously sick, and the chances of a cure look dim, would you seek a ray of hope and pray for mirac­u­lous heal­ing? In this age of sci­en­tific won­ders, not a few frown on the heal­ing power of ac­tive faith and prayer. Some peo­ple even ques­tion the va­lid­ity of bib­li­cal ac­counts about the heal­ing and life-restora­tion mir­a­cles per­formed by Jesus as God’s anointed Mes­siah.

Some physi­cians con­tend that ex­tra­or­di­nary re­cov­er­ies can be ex­plained sci­en­tif­i­cally and, thus, must be thor­oughly in­ves­ti­gated. On the other hand, there are those who be­lieve in adopt­ing an open mind about the con­nec­tion be­tween medicine and spir­i­tu­al­ity. The role of spir­i­tual care as part of pal­lia­tive care and the com­ple­men­tary con­nec­tion of medicine and spir­i­tu­al­ity are now be­ing taken up in con­sen­sus con­fer­ences.

Dr. Alexis Car­rel, a French sur­geon and re­cip­i­ent of the No­bel Prize in medicine in 1912, re­pu­di­ated re­ports about spon­ta­neous heal­ing in Lour­des, France—un­til he him­self wit­nessed two events there: the sud­den re­vival of a woman who was dy­ing of tu­ber­cu­lo­sis and the restora­tion of the sight of a baby with con­gen­i­tal blind­ness af­ter peo­ple prayed for them. Deeply moved and con­vinced that the power of prayer spurred their re­cov­ery, he be­gan shar­ing this be­lief with oth­ers, even at the ex­pense of his med­i­cal ca­reer in France.

“As a physi­cian I have seen men, af­ter all other ther­apy failed, lifted out of dis­ease and melan­choly by the serene ef­fort of prayer,” Car­rel said in his ar­ti­cle “Prayer is Power” (Reader’s Di­gest, An An­thol­ogy, 1941). “The oc­ca­sions on which prayer has dra­mat­i­cally done this have been termed ‘mir­a­cles,’ but a con­stant, quicker mir­a­cle takes place in the hearts of those who have dis­cov­ered that prayer sup­plies them with a steady flow of sus­tain­ing power in their daily lives.”

My friend Salome B. Pangili­nan, a re­tired med­i­cal tech­nol­o­gist in Cal­i­for­nia, sent me a copy of her jour­nal ti­tled “A Pilgrimage to the Mar­ian Shrines,” which chron­i­cles her re­li­gious tour of Por­tu­gal, France and Spain with her friend Mila Her­mogeno in April 2017. Mila’s com­pelling rea­son for join­ing the pilgrimage was her son, Michael, who was in need of a kid­ney trans­plant. She be­lieved it would be a spe­cial way of bring­ing her prayer con­cern to the Great Healer: The per­son whowas will­ing to do­nate a kid­ney had failed the ini­tial eval­u­a­tion of the doc­tors at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia in Los An­ge­les (UCLA).

With un­flag­ging faith and hope, Mila be­came all the more deter­mined to pray at the places known as sites of mirac­u­lous heal­ing. And to her ut­most grat­i­tude, the good news reached her at one point dur­ing the pilgrimage: The UCLA doc­tors had re­called the same kid­ney donor who, af­ter fur­ther eval­u­a­tion, was deemed to be a per­fect match, af­ter all. The surgery was a suc­cess; her son re­ceived a healthy kid­ney.

“To­day, Michael is do­ing very well, not only phys­i­cally but also emo­tion­ally and spir­i­tu­ally,” Mila wrote in an e-mail. “He and his young fam­ily have adopted a healthy life­style. The ex­pe­ri­ence has deep­ened their faith in God.”

Salome added: “We at­tribute Michael’s new lease on life to the mir­a­cle of our pilgrimage.”

The power of a pos­i­tive at­ti­tude is a big heal­ing fac­tor, ac­cord­ing to Dr. Hiromi Shinya, a noted gas­troen­terol­o­gist and sur­geon in Japan and the United States. “There have been cases of very sick peo­ple mirac­u­lously re­cov­er­ing from ill­nesses af­ter set­ting their minds on some goal,” he says in his book “The En­zyme Fac­tor” (Health Har­mony, B. Jain Pub­lish­ers (P) Ltd., 2014).

En­zymes, he ex­plains, are pro­duced within the cells of liv­ing things to sus­tain life. He em­pha­sizes that pos­i­tive feel­ings such as love, grat­i­tude and joy­ful en­thu­si­asm can ac­ti­vate en­zymes “to cre­ate en­ergy and even bring peo­ple back from near death.” He calls them “mir­a­cle en­zymes” be­cause they re­in­force the body’s abil­ity to heal it­self even as medicine and surgery “can be nec­es­sary in cer­tain cir­cum­stances.” He urges his read­ers to avoid neg­a­tive feel­ings such as ha­tred, re­sent­ment and jeal­ousy, which are “as de­struc­tive to health as poor diet.”

If we be­lieve in the bib­li­cal dec­la­ra­tion that Jesus is the same yes­ter­day, to­day and for­ever, we might as well be­lieve that mirac­u­lous heal­ing still hap­pens to­day, that our faith and prayer can move the Holy Spirit of Jesus to work through physi­cians to heal us—and to make us whole in body, heart, mind and spirit.

———— To re­lax, Prosy Badiola Tor­rechante cro­chets and dines out with fam­ily and friends.

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