Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sickness of the Soul

Sickness of the soul has long been called sin, but how often is it really sadness for the sin inflicted on our souls. So much is done to our spirits even before we're given birth, and when we're pre-verbal. How can we know when the seeds of the abscesses were planted? How can we name what was done to us before we had words?

We call so many afflictions genetic simply because they appear before birth. These are the same weaknesses that we used to blame on the sins of the fathers and/or demonic possession. At least we seem to be getting closer to discontinuation of blaming the afflicted for their own afflictions.

There are still those who practice spells and incantations over sick people, attempting to exorcise the demons. We are still afraid to hold those who are writhing in the greatest pain, afraid that what they have may be contagious. It is contagious. Psychologists say that one way to tell if a person is depressed is that the psychologist feels somewhat depressed after the patient leaves.

To love is to absorb some of the pain of the loved. We are told that Jesus felt "the energy go out" of him when he was touched by someone in need of healing. Even as grounded in goodness as was Jesus, he needed to retreat to the desert to exorcise the negative energy he had collected before he could enter the most challenging part of his ministry. What hubris to think that we can appoint confessors who absorb all the evil without falling ill themselves.

Sickness of the soul can only be healed with loving kindness in word and deed. Unfortunately, we often can't get at the root of the problem because we don't know the source of the "infection". How can we begin to peel the layers of dead "tissue" off the wounds if we don't know the history of the afflicted?

Perhaps this is where we can use the admonition that the weaknesses of the fathers are passed down to the children. If we assume this to be true, we can, hopefully, put ourselves in place of the parents and help to heal what we can't see. Laying of hands is not the same as holding.

Pills and incantations may open the wounds, but the only thing that will heal them is a new skin of love. We must keep ourselves strong so that we are able to absorb some of the pain without ourselves becoming infected. The only way to keep the healing going is to build a network of like-minded lovers to support one another in their ministries. We are all called to minister to one another; it's not a job. It's a vocation.