Jul 10, 2021 701 Emily Shaw, Australia

Road to Inner Healing

Seeking inner peace? Here are proven ways to heal your soul

The evening was cool; the church quiet, save for the soothing voice of a priest from the Prelature of Opus Dei. A dozen women reflected on his meditation. Despite the liturgical season of Easter, it was focused on the Cross.

“The Cross does not make victims,” declared the priest, as he indicated the crucifix hanging above the tabernacle. “It makes saints!”

He repeated that truth before continuing: “Faith in God does not mean that there will be no darkness in our lives. Faith is the light that guides our path through the darkness.”

It is easy for us to forget that The Cross can be a channel for inner healing. Too often we fall into the mindset of ‘carrying our crosses’ as a way of dismissing suffering without fully entering into its redemptive potential.

Playing the victim, and feeling sorry for ourselves does not aid the healing process. Instead, we are called to imitate Christ—the perfect victim.

A Lifelong Journey

“You have made us for Yourself, O Lord and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.” This famous line from Saint Augustine of Hippo never fails to resonate because we are made to know, love and serve God. To be fulfilled, we yearn for a meaningful life.

Although we deeply desire to know, love and serve God, we are still human: the spirit might be willing but the flesh is most certainly weak (cf. Matthew 26:41).

What began with the Original Sin of Adam and Eve, continues with the shadow of concupiscence—that part of our human nature that responds to the allure of sin. “The new life received in Christian initiation has not abolished the frailty and weakness of human nature, nor the inclination to sin that tradition calls concupiscence, which remains in the baptized such that with the help of the grace of Christ they may prove themselves in the struggle of Christian life.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1426)

In other words, even though the stain of Original Sin is washed from our souls through Baptism, we still find sin attractive. This attraction to sin will remain with us in this lifetime, but with the grace of Our Lord, we can grow in holiness.

Our willing submission to His will—the growing in His likeness—is the vocation of every soul. In practical terms, inner healing and our spiritual health are irrevocably intertwined. If we want to achieve true and lasting inner healing, then we need to advance in holiness, but it cannot be achieved overnight.

How Can I Touch Him?

In Matthew’s Gospel we read the following: And when they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. And when the men of that place recognized him, they sent round to all that region and brought to Him all that were sick, and besought Him that they might only touch the fringe of His garment; and as many as touched it were made well. (Matthew 14:34-36)

As many as touched it were made well—what a blessing for them. But what about us? We are not contemporaries of Jesus who can flock to Him and jostle with each other to touch the fringe of His tunic to gain inner healing.

However, the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us: “In the sacraments Christ continues to ‘touch’ us in order to heal us.” (CCC 1504)

He comes to us in the sacraments! This is both a tremendous blessing and an ongoing source of hope. In particular the Sacraments of Confession and the Eucharist are a beautiful manifestation of God’s healing in action.

Through Confession: ‘The whole power of the Sacrament of Penance consists in restoring us to God’s grace and joining us with Him in an intimate friendship.’ Reconciliation with God is thus the purpose and effect of this sacrament. For those who receive the Sacrament of Penance with contrite heart and religious disposition, reconciliation ‘is usually followed by peace and serenity of conscience with strong spiritual consolation.’ Indeed the sacrament of Reconciliation with God brings about a true ‘spiritual resurrection’, restoration of the dignity and blessings of the life of the children of God, of which the most precious is friendship with God. (CCC 1468)

Frequent reception of the Eucharist is a supernatural phenomenon with benefits that are out of this world: “Holy Communion separates us from sin.” (CCC 1393) “As bodily nourishment restores lost strength, so the Eucharist strengthens our charity, which tends to be weakened in daily life; and this living charity wipes away venial sins.” (CCC 1394) “By the same charity that it enkindles in us, the Eucharist preserves us from future mortal sins. The more we share the life of Christ and progress in His friendship, the more difficult it is to break away from Him by mortal sin.” (CCC 1395)

Better Late Than Never

Zelie Martin, mother of Saint Therese of Lisieux, was canonised in 2015 alongside her husband Louis. This industrious mother and lace-maker knew all too well the effort and work required for inner healing.

She famously penned the following: I want to become a Saint; it will not be easy at all. I have a lot of wood to chop and it is as hard as stone. I should have started sooner, while it was not so difficult; but in any case ‘better late than never.’

Her own earthly journey to holiness would end with an early death, passing away from breast cancer when her youngest daughter Therese was just four years old. She knew the value of imitating the perfect victim; she carried her crosses, successfully ‘chopping the wood’ that was as hard as stone. The fruit of such work is easily visible in her family: religious vocations and canonizations.

Each of us has different ‘wood’ to chop. Our journeys to inner healing will vary, for though we are all created in His image and likeness, we are each of us unique and thus our strengths, weaknesses and personal experiences are different.

Regardless of this, the Catholic Church, the institution entrusted to Saint Peter, is a treasure trove of aids for inner healing and spiritual health. But we have to take the first step and reach out to Jesus, through the Church, and grasp firmly onto the hem of His tunic, resolving to continue to reach out should our grip loosen because we are distracted by our attraction to sin.

True inner healing can only come about if we have the faith to touch Jesus, to embrace both Him and His Cross; to trust in the redemptive suffering of The Cross in our own lives, to make frequent reception of the Sacraments a priority, and to look for our spiritual and emotional fulfillment in the eternal.

Pope Saint John Paul II was one of many who understood that true inner healing comes from God alone. Because of this, he spent much of his pontificate urging the faithful to cling to Christ, and to have the courage: “to be the Saints of the new millennium.”


Emily Shaw

Emily Shaw is a former Australasian Catholic Press Association award-winning editor turned blogger for australiancatholicmums.com and is a contributor to Catholic-Link. A wife and mother of seven, she resides on a farm in rural Australia and enjoys the spiritual support of her local catholic community.

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