Tag: conversion

Casting Nets: Prayers for Healing in the RCIA

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The following article is the third in a series called “Casting Nets” that will run over the coming weeks. They are written by “John,” a student in one of Ralph Martin’s New Evangelization classes, and document several evangelization opportunities he has performed in his various ministries. He writes, “Each ministry is unique with various situations, circumstances, and needs; but the one constant is broken and injured people. It is my experience that there is no greater potential for miracles to occur than when desperate people meet Jesus. I have been blessed to have seen many people come to Jesus—often in surprising or unexpected ways—and quite often, it is I who is the most surprised.”

By John

I love RCIA, because evangelization is expected. I had two topics that I wanted to get across on this particular night. First, prayer is the most important thing that we need to learn to do, and second, that prayer can seem simple, but it is hard to do it well. I began by challenging the RCIA class that “if prayer didn’t work and if, in fact, we were just speaking words to the sky and God never answered us—then why even bother? Why are we are wasting our time?” It was blunt, but honest.

I then I gave two personal examples of answered prayers in my own life, and a couple of the candidates also shared their stories. I then began to teach about how to pray. I spoke about rote prayer, spontaneous prayer, contemplative prayer, healing prayer, intercessory prayer, meditative prayer, etc.

Then I announced that we needed a prayer practicum. I told them about my ministry (healing and deliverance) and told them about some of the things I’d witnessed. Using Mark 16:17-18 as a spring board, I said that I would teach them what I knew about healing prayer and how to pray with others. I then asked if there was anyone present with any injuries, aches, pains, etc. The first person to step forward was an ex-Detroit police officer. She said she had bad knees and that they hurt mostly after sitting. We gathered around her, and I told her and the others what I was about to do, explaining it slowly and carefully. I told her to relax and just let me know if she felt anything. We prayed. She began to sweat and was feeling heat all throughout her body. I asked her to try her knees out. She walked around and said that they were “a little better.” We prayed again, and on the second try, she said that they were “definitely better.” Praise God!

The five candidates were now paying closer attention, but I detected some skepticism, because this was not something visible. Plausible, perhaps; visible, no.

I asked if anyone else had any aches or pains. A woman who was studying to be a nurse reported hip problems and sciatica. Again, I explained the process, but before we even started praying for healing, she said she was feeling tingling. I pointed out how our good and gracious God was already at work—even before we had asked Him. I pointed out that this was not atypical when the Spirit is stirred up, and we prayed into the feeling. After a minute or so, I had her test her back, and she said she felt about the same, but was “sweating like crazy.” I offered to pray more for her. It was then she said something I’d always wanted to hear someone say. She said, “You can pray if you want, but the reason my back hurts is because I have one leg that is shorter than the other.”

Yes! Thank you, Lord! I had always wanted to see this malady healed and had been praying for the opportunity for some months.

I had her sit and put her feet on my knees, and sure enough, the right leg was about three-quarters of an inch shorter than the left. I lined up her boots so that everyone present could see the difference. I simply prayed “In the name of Jesus Christ, right leg, grow.” She said she felt something tingling in her knee, and after about five seconds, we all watched as the leg began to stretch, and we saw the two heels come together perfectly. Total time—about twenty seconds. I asked the candidates “do you see this?” Needless to say, they were all wildly excited. In fact, they wanted to pray over each other. We spent the rest of the class talking about God’s abundant mercy and love—and yes, all joined the Church the following Easter.

Note: I challenged the class to go and do the same (evangelize and heal), stressing that Mark 16: 17-18 applied to all of us—not just to me. Two weeks later, one of the young ladies in the class told me how she prayed for healing for a college classmate who was a “professed Baptist who hated Catholics.” He received healing for his back and is now reevaluating his view of Catholics.

David Patterson: From Mess to Message

David Patterson
David Patterson with his wife and mother at the 2017 Lift Jesus Higher Rally in Toronto, Ontario.

David Patterson shared a hopeful story of the Lord’s healing strength and the power of prayer, at the 2017 Lift Jesus Higher Rally in Toronto, Ontario.

Although David’s mother was Catholic, after his parents divorced, David found himself bitter toward his father, and wanting his dad “to feel his hurt.” He also began to wonder “if people really believed in Jesus.”

In ninth grade, he spent time at his dad’s cottage one summer, and ended up heavily involved in marijuana, alcohol, and partying. When he returned to school in the fall, he fell in with the “wrong crowd,” and continued living a reckless lifestyle through high school and college.

In fact, at one point, David asked a friend why he had headaches when he didn’t drink, and the friend replied, “You’ve got the fangs of the wolf. You’re an alcoholic; welcome to the club.”

Fortunately, David’s mother never stopped praying for his conversion.

When she asked him to attend a Catholic retreat, he reluctantly agreed—simply to get her to leave him alone.

“On the way to the retreat, I was angry,” David explained. “I was yelling at my mom in the parking lot, when I felt a tap on my shoulder, and there was a priest in a cowboy hat. He was loving and patient, and said, ‘Son, I think you should stay. Then, one of the speakers, who was funny, cool, and loved God, said ‘God doesn’t care about your mess. A simple ‘yes’ to God will change your life forever. It’s August 15—you can change your life today.”

David answered “yes” to God that day. He went to confession, where he said, “As I kept unloading, I got a little lighter and a little lighter, and as He gave me absolution, I felt free.”

It was difficult to go back to school, he explained: “My buddies asked what had happened. They said I was joyful. I had to tell my bros I had encountered the living God, and do you think that went well?”

David continued struggling with temptation, particularly to drink and to swear. He persevered by going to confession regularly; after six months, he said, “God set me free,” and he no longer struggled with those temptations.

He later attended another retreat his mom suggested—Lift Jesus Higher—where, during the Eucharistic procession, the Lord put an image on his heart that led David to become a youth minister.

And then, exactly four years after David said “yes” to God, his future wife said “yes” to him, when they became engaged. The couple is now married and expecting their second child.

“The reality is, I was a mess,” said David. “But He took the mess and He turned it into a message.”

Alpha Unites Family, Deepens Faith

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Sr. Ann Shields and Gemma MacDonald

An Alpha course changed the lives of everyone in high school senior Gemma MacDonald’s family. Gemma shared her story at the 2017 Lift Jesus Higher Rally.

After hearing about the program, the family of nominally practicing Catholics first encourage Gemma’s recently widowed, alcoholic grandfather to attend.

“On his weekend away (for a part of Alpha called the Holy Spirit weekend), my grandfather had a battle between lightness and darkness, and in the end, light won,” said Gemma. “He hasn’t had a desire to drink since then.”

Gemma’s grandfather agreed the weekend transformed his life: “After praying for the Holy Spirit to come, the next day, I didn’t have the urge to go in the liquor store,” he said.

He now spends most of his time helping with Alpha. He explained, “I think of the ten lepers who were cured; now I try to help others find Jesus like I found Him.”

His conversion encouraged the rest of his family to attended Alpha together. They also went reluctantly, but experienced a tremendous conversion.

“It renewed all of our relationships and brought us deeper into our faith,” said Gemma. “Our family dynamic shifted from us working individually, to us working as a team.”

Since then, the family has started both youth and adult Alpha programs at other parishes. At sixteen, Gemma even became the volunteer coordinator for adult ministry at a parish.

“The gifts of the Holy Spirit are working through us,” concluded Gemma’s father, David. “I think they can work through everybody. You just have to be present.”

To locate an Alpha course near you, visit www.alphacanada.org or www.alphausa.org.