In honor of my national TV debut (PBS Religion and News Weekly, this weekend), I am reprinting the article I wrote for the National Catholic Reporter in response to the US Bishops’ statement on Reiki. Check your local listings or go to http://www.pbs.org/religion to see the interview. Here is the article:
A woman stricken with Multiple sclerosis came to me for a Reiki treatment some years back upon the recommendation of her son. Her granddaughter had been killed in a tragic accident a year earlier and her husband, who could no longer handle the stress of her disease, had recently filed for divorce. She was bent over with grief and stooped from the crippling effects of her disease.
As I listened to her story, and witnessed the despair and hopelessness in her face I doubted that Reiki would provide her any relief. As we entered the treatment room, I asked myself, “What good can I possibly do for this woman?” I was then reminded to never doubt the healing power of God!
When the treatment was complete, she stepped down from the treatment table. I will never forget what I saw. She stood up straight and in her new found stride there was a sense of purpose and ease that had not been there before. Her face glowed with a look of new found peacefulness and serenity. She actually looked joyful.
She then sat beside me. “For the first time in my life, I feel completely at peace,” she exclaimed. “The pain of the grief and the loss have simply melted away. I feel like I have been resting within a warm vessel of peace and love.” She said she had never felt such peace, “ever.”
With her remarks, I found myself moved to tears. I cannot fully explain what happened that day. I only know that on that day, this woman experienced the grace of God’s healing power, and it came through me.
Regardless of the limitations some might perceive within the philosophy or practice of Reiki, this incident proved to me, beyond a doubt, that Reiki can be a powerful tool through which God facilitates healing. No one can convince tell me otherwise.
It is for this reason that in spite of the prohibitions set forth by a U.S. bishops’ committee I continue to openly share Reiki. While some might accuse me of disobedience, I am content in knowing that to God, the ultimate Authority, my obedience is true.
As a Reiki practitioner and instructor of “Christ-centered hands-on healing practices,” I was deeply saddened by the release of the March U.S. bishops’ “Guidelines for Evaluating Reiki as an Alternative Practice.”
The bishops’ committee proclaimed that “since Reiki therapy is not compatible with either Christian teaching or scientific evidence, it would be inappropriate for Catholic institutions…or persons representing the Church…to promote or to provide support for Reiki therapy.”
It saddened me to see that a healing practice that has been widely embraced and shared through Catholic retreat and spirituality centers by lay and religious alike will now be effectively burned at the stake.
Being neither theologian nor scientist, I cannot begin to argue the doctrinal perspectives of the bishops involved. Nor can I challenge the scientific studies that were consulted in issuing their statement. However, as a woman of faith, I need neither theologian nor scientist to decide for me if Reiki is, or is not, of God, or whether it is, or is not, an effective tool for healing.
From the time some 20 years ago when a friend introduced me to Reiki to the day 10 years later when I found Catholic women religious with whom I could study, to the moment that God opened the door for me to practice Reiki at the Catholic campus ministry where I was employed, I knew that this was the path God had ordained for me.
In the nine years that I have actively shared Reiki with others, this discernment has been confirmed as I have witnessed the profound presence and action of God revealed in the sharing of this remarkable tool.
Along with other Catholic Reiki practitioners, I consider Reiki to be a way in which we can accept the call to continue the healing ministry of Jesus. In discerning this path, we are saying “yes” to being the body of Christ. Support for this healing ministry is readily available through scripture in the ways in which Jesus commissioned his disciples and in Paul’s exhortation on the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Luke 9: 2
Jesus sent them to proclaim the loving counsel of God and to heal the sick.
John 14: 12-14
Amen, Amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these because I am returning to the Source. And whatever you ask in my name, I will do so that our Creator may be glorified. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.
1 Corinthians 12: 7-11, 27
To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom; to another expression of knowledge…to another faith…; to another gifts of healing…; to another mighty deeds; to another prophesy; to another discernment of spirits; to another variety of tongues; to another interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person as the Spirit wishes… Now you are Christ’s Body, and individually parts of it.
While support for this healing ministry is found through scripture, my journey has not been an easy one. I have learned that practicing a truth that is not “explicitly handed down by the magesterium” can be a dangerous business. By a fearful few, I (along with other Catholic Reiki practitioners) now have been accused of heresy, simony, witchcraft, sorcery and of communing with Satan. In each moment, however, that I become afraid or begin to doubt, God reveals to me another grace frequently received by those to whom I humbly minister.