Have you ever been to a healing Mass? Actually, let's back that up - have you ever heard of healing Mass? Before May 17, I certainly hadn't. Of course I was vaguely familiar with the concept of healing services, though I associated them with charismatic sects. (Honestly, the image that most sprung to mind was some kind of tent revival. We're Catholic - we don't do that.... Right?) But there was the notice in the bulletin, just a small notice, about a healing Mass at St. Mary's parish, in Cecil. The Mass was on Wednesday, and we didn't have anything else going on that evening; it would only be about 20 minutes away.
From Sunday until Wednesday evening, we waffled. Would going do any good? Certainly God can choose to work through mediums such as a relic, medal, prayer or healing Mass, but He doesn't need any of it to effect a change or healing. Going (or not going) wouldn't change His mind; He has His plans, to which we are not privy, which do not change. How many of us have said, over and over again, that while yes, we are exhorted to turn to Him in prayer constantly, to never stop asking, getting the answer we hope for isn't simply a matter of praying longer or harder or having deeper faith? (That way lies the Prosperity Gospel, not the way of the cross.) Honestly, I couldn't quite see much reason to go, but without going, there would be no way to know if it were worthwhile.
And so we went. St. Mary's is tucked away, a bit more difficult to get to then the directions first suggested. When we arrived, the parking lot was packed, much to my surprise; we were directed to park in the cemetery. In many ways, St. Mary's looks like the church we were married in, St. Bartholomew's; they both have the 1960's/1970's style of architecture and stained glass. It seemed like the service had started by the time we arrived; everyone was singing when we walked in, so we chose a pew near the back.
For the most part, the Mass was Mass. I couldn't help but see the irony of the Scripture reading, featuring the woman with hemorrhages, both because it was during my period as well the contrast between her complete faith and my uncertainty. It wasn't always easy to hear the priest presiding, mostly due to the sound system, but at times due to the family with young children that sat behind us. (I'm pretty certain that the baby tugged on my veil at least a couple of times.)
At the close of Mass, the presiding priest shared a list of conditions and situations that they heard as they prayed beforehand. "One of the things about the Holy Spirit is that it allows us to hear God. As we prayed before Mass, here is what we heard. A young man will have his vocation to the priesthood affirmed tonight... Tonight someone will be healed of the diabetes... Foot problems... Breathing problems... A child will be healed in the womb tonight..." The list went on, with everyone listening raptly. Sometimes someone would call out "Amen" or just raise their hand as a condition was mentioned. For about 5 minutes, the priest listed conditions and situations; I kept hoping that IF would show up, however it was described. It didn't. There was something that sounded like it could refer to adoption but only in an oblique way.
After the dismissal and blessing of the oil, the priests spread out to various posts in the aisles. As each priest took his position, a line quickly formed. We eventually joined the unorganized not-quite-a-line in the back corner behind where we had been sitting. The family with the two young children who sat behind us were first in line; it seemed like both boys had some kind of health problem. The crowd/line ebbed and flowed; a couple of women complimented me on my veil, and then it was our turn. For the first time when I told a priest about our infertility he listened; he asked if we were trying to find the underlying cause of it. I explained that we were still working with doctors to find and treat the causes of our IF. He prayed over us for some time, closing with a smile and "Come see me in 3 months." Afterwards, I was filled with calm and peace, something that has been in short supply lately.
As we were leaving, I commented to Husbandido that the priest we spoke with looked kind of like Pope Saint John Paul II. I can't say that the peace I felt that night lingers; circumstances since have knocked that out of me. I can say that going to the healing Mass was well worth it, and we will likely go back. (For those in the Pittsburgh area, the schedule is here; for other areas, typing "healing Mass [location]" should help you find one.)