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“Freely have ye received, freely give” The History of the Healing Ministry of the Church Dominic Holtz, O.P. Aquinas Institute of Theology (St. Louis,

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Presentation on theme: "“Freely have ye received, freely give” The History of the Healing Ministry of the Church Dominic Holtz, O.P. Aquinas Institute of Theology (St. Louis,"— Presentation transcript:

1 “Freely have ye received, freely give” The History of the Healing Ministry of the Church Dominic Holtz, O.P. Aquinas Institute of Theology (St. Louis, Missouri) September 9, 2008

2 Healing in the Early Church (to c. 300)

3 Healing in the Early Church Healing and the ministry of Jesus  Healing and mission  Healing as mission Health of body/Health of soul  Sickness and sin  Power to heal and power to forgive

4 Healing in the Early Church Healing in the apostolic and early Church  Thaumaturgy “wonder-working”, i.e. miracles sign of Kingdom and authenticity of Jesus as Messiah, and of Church as recipient of power and authority to preach Gospel  Sacrament anointing of the sick by priests how little is known about sacramental healing in early centuries

5 Healing in the Early Church Healing in the apostolic and early Church  Hospitality care of homeless, travellers, the “poor” (cf. numerous appeals in St. Paul re: care for poor and the obligation to work) Poor = those unable to provide for their own needs  Medicine St. Luke as “physician” Lay & clerical physicians

6 Healing in the Early Church Cosmas and Damian  as iatroi (professional physicians)  as thaumaturgoi (wonder workers)  as anargyroi (lit. “silverless” or “penniless”, i.e. healing without a profit; cf. Acts 3:6, “Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have I give thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk”)

7 The Church of the Fathers (c. 300 – c. 700)

8 The Church of the Fathers Classical/pagan background to healing The Asklepieion, Temple to Asklepios (Aesculapius) Asclepiads/Iatroi Valetudinaria

9 The Church of the Fathers The Church and Late Roman Empire Benefits Freedom of the Church to acquire property Gifts from State Challenges Larger client base Economic downturn, social unrest, and plague

10 The Church of the Fathers Rise of Institutional care, including: Xenodocheion (strangers) Nosocomeion (sick) Orphanotropheion (orphans) Brephotropheion (foundlings) Gerocomeion (elderly) Ptocheion/Ptochotropheion (poor)

11 The Church of the Fathers Matthew 25:35-36, 40b “For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. … Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

12 The Church of the Fathers “We have dwelt at some length upon her penitence, but have now come ashore out of the deep, in order to enter into a wider space where we may begin to describe her praises freely. Having been received publicly back into the fellowship of the church, what did she do? In her day of good fortune she did not forget the days of evil; after the shipwreck she had no desire to commit herself again to the dangers of the deep. Instead she preferred to carve up all her various properties and sell them (her properties were considerable, as befitting to her rank), and having gathered together a large sum of money she put it to work for the benefit of the poor.

13 The Church of the Fathers “The first thing she did was to set up a nosochomeion into which she gathered sick people from off the streets and provided relief for the needy and nursed those suffering from various ills. Need I describe all those various human disasters - the broken noses, the eyes put out, the feet half withered, the hands covered in sores, the distended bellies, the thin shanks, the swollen shins, the diseased and decaying flesh swarming with maggots? How often did she bear upon her shoulders people infected with jaundice or filth? How often did she wash the wounds oozing with pus which most people could not bear even to look at? She prepared food with her own hands, and moistened the lips of the dying with sips of liquid.

14 The Church of the Fathers “I know many rich and religious people who are quite happy to bring this sort of relief to people by being generous with their money, as long as somebody else is actually doing the work. They have not the stomach to do it with their own hands. But I don't blame them. A natural repugnance does not necessarily indicate a lack of faith. But while I may forgive them their weakness of stomach, I cannot fail but offer praises to heaven for the fervour of a mind which has perfectly banished such scruples. It was her great faith which enabled her to overcome.” St. Jerome (c ), Life of St. Fabiola

15 The Church of the Fathers Monasteries and the ministry of healing Eremitic healing Thaumaturgy Medical skill Lay healers as valued and as “fathers of pain” Cenobitic healing Xenodochion Infirmary (pharmaka) Care for sick brethren Holisitic care Physical (medicine/rest), spiritual (cycle of prayer, invocation of saints), psycho- social (orderly regimen of life, in midst of community/brotherhood)

16 The Church of the Fathers “Before and above all things, care must be taken of the sick, that they be served in very truth as Christ is served; because He hath said, “I was sick and you visited Me” (Mt 25:36). And “As long as you did it to one of these My least brethren, you did it to Me” (Mt 25:40). But let the sick themselves also consider that they are served for the honor of God, and let them not grieve their brethren who serve them by unnecessary demands.

17 The Church of the Fathers “These must, however, be patiently borne with, because from such as these a more bountiful reward is gained. Let the Abbot's greatest concern, therefore, be that they suffer no neglect. Let a cell be set apart for the sick brethren, and a God-fearing, diligent, and careful attendant be appointed to serve them. Let the use of the bath be offered to the sick as often as it is useful, but let it be granted more rarely to the healthy and especially the young. “Thus also let the use of meat be granted to the sick and to the very weak for their recovery. But when they have been restored let them all abstain from meat in the usual manner. But let the Abbot exercise the utmost care that the sick are not neglected by the Cellarer or the attendants, because whatever his disciples do amiss falleth back on him.” St. Benedict (c ), Rule of St. Benedict, c. 36

18 The Medieval Church (c. 700 – c. 1450)

19 The Medieval Church Early Middle Ages Breakdown/Decay of late Antique Order Coming of new peoples to Church (Germanic, Celtic, Slavic, etc.) Transmission & transformation of Classical civilization

20 The Medieval Church Monastic life and healing ministry Continuity with past  Xenodochia, infirmary, regimen, etc. New tasks/purposes  locus of care for the community’s poor

21 The Medieval Church High Middle Ages Rise in economy and social order Renewed interest in and access to Classical learning New interest in the natural world

22 The Medieval Church Birth of new institutions for health ministry  Hotel-dieu, hospital, hospice  Leprosarium/lazar house Patterns of foundation  Ecclesiastical foundations  Pious private foundations  Municipal and royal foundations

23 The Medieval Church Religious Orders of Knighthood & Care of sick Order of the Hospital of St. John (Hospitallers) Teutonic Knights, etc. Joining of health care with care & defense of travellers, as well as military endeavors

24 The Medieval Church Responses to health and healing Sacred  Sacramental  Thaumaturgical Social  Confraternities, monastic communities, etc. Medical  Study of anatomy, pharmacology, contagion, etc.

25 The Church in the Modern Age (c to c. 1950)

26 The Church in the Modern Age Modernity and Christianity Secularism Rise of the Nation State Protestant Reformation – Dismantling of Medieval institutions of care for sick poor Valorizing of the Active Life Interiorizing of spirituality and piety Growth of lay involvement in Church life Critiques of faith & revealed religion as opposed to reason and contrary to human good

27 The Church in the Modern Age Religious responses Apostolic/active congregations – Daughters of Charity – Congregation of the Mission Sacramental – Anointing of the sick – Chaplaincy in secular hospitals Thaumaturgical (decline, but still present) – Debate about Lourdes healings in 19 th and 20 th centuries

28 The Church in the Modern Age Advances in medical knowledge and practice & Enlightenment Positive impacts – More precise and predictable healing – Search for effective and less painful procedures – Improved knowledge of contagion, etiology, etc. Negative impacts – Less holisitic approach to healing – Dividing out/removal of spiritual care as additional rather than central to mission of healing

29 The Church in the Modern Age Rise of Medical Missions Medicine and mission – Salvation of souls – Healing of bodies as proclamation of Gospel Medicine as mission – Healing as constitutive activity of the Church

30 The Church in the Modern Age “We also wish at this point to pay the highest tribute of praise to the care taken of the sick, the infirm and affflicted of every kind; We mean hospitals, leprosaria, dispensaries and homes for the aged and for maternity cases, and orphanages. These are to Our eyes the fairest flowers of missionary endeavor; they give us as it were a vision of the Divine Redeemer Himself, who “went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed.”

31 The Church in the Modern Age “Such outstanding works of charity are undoubtedly of the highest efficacy in preparing the souls of non- Christians and in drawing them to the Faith and to the practice of Christianity; besides, Our Lord said to His Apostles: “Into what city soever you enter, and they receive you,... heal the sick that are therein, and say to them: the Kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.” “However, the Brothers and nuns who feel that they are called to undertake such work must, before leaving their own country, acquire the professional training and knowledge which are today required in these matters. We know that there are nuns with full professional qualifications who have earned well merited recognition by the special study of loathsome diseases, such as leprosy, and by discovering remedies for them.

32 The Church in the Modern Age “These and all other missionaries who are giving their service so generously in leper hospitals, have Our paternal blessing, and their exalted charity compels Our admiration and praise. “With regard to medicine and surgery, however, it will certainly be advisable to enlist the services also of laymen, provided not only that they have taken the necessary degrees for this work, and are willing to leave their homeland in order to help the missionaries, but also that in the matter of faith and morals they leave nothing to be desired.” Pius XII, Evangelii Praecones (1951)

33 The Church and contemporary challenges

34  What is role of the Church as healer within the context of the social welfare state (which claims for itself interest, and even governance, over all features of personal and public health)?  How can traditional Christian institutions of care respond to the bureaucratization of managed health care?  How does the holistic tradition of the Church, which prioritizes right relationship with God and neighbor, respond to the clinicalization of the patient and of the hospital?  Is the loss of the ambiguity surrounding the care of the “poor” and the “sick” a benefit to the Church’s helaing mission, or an obstacle?  Is there a public role of the sacramental and thaumaturical traditions of healing in the Church in ecclesially-sponsored health care of the 21 st century?


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