Obedience to God or to Man?

With the release of my book, Christouch – A Christ-centered approach to energy medicine through hands-on-healing, I thought it would be a great time to revisit some of the past articles I have written regarding Reiki and its place in the world of Christian practice and belief.  This article was written for ChristianReiki.org and is in response to the 2009 Catholic Bishop’s official statements against Reiki. 

Obedience to God or to Man?
A Catholic Woman’s
response to the
Catholic Bishops’ prohibition of
Reiki

Copyright 2009 Lauri Lumby

On March 25, 2009, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee
on Doctrine released their document, Guidelines for Evaluating Reiki as an
Alternative Therapy
. Acting as the modern-day Inquisition, the Committee on
Doctrine has effectively burned at the stake all men and women who have been
teaching or practicing Reiki within Catholic institutions. As a Roman Catholic
woman who has studied Reiki under the tutelage of women religious and has
incorporated Reiki into my own ministry, I am both saddened and offended by this
document. I am saddened by the effect it will have on those who have shared this
remarkable gift within the context of their retreat, spiritual direction and
healing ministries. I am offended by the poor scientific research and ignorance
of Reiki on the part of the Bishops who formulated this document. Even more
alarming to me is the temptation of fear that has driven the Bishops to take
such a prohibitive stance. I am left wondering how the Bishops could have missed
the grace of God that has been revealed to so many in both sharing and receiving
the gift of Reiki.

My own journey with Reiki began nearly 20 years ago when a friend mentioned
she was taking a Reiki class. At the time, I knew nothing about Reiki, but there
was something in the word itself that grabbed me and I observed a deep knowing
that Reiki was something I needed to study at some point in my journey. I spent
the next 15 years looking for a Reiki teacher and while teachers were abundant,
none felt quite right. Then in 1999, while completing my training as a spiritual
director, I discovered that the Catholic sister who was the director of our
program was a Reiki practitioner. I took the opportunity to inquire and she
referred me to her teacher, another Catholic nun who had attained the level of
Reiki Master. I knew that this was the teaching path for which I had been
searching. I immediately signed up for the Level One training and have never
looked back. After completing Levels One through Three of Usui Reiki, I then
went on to study Level One and Level Two of Karuna Reiki – again, through a
Catholic woman religious.

What I most appreciated about the path to which I had been led was the way in
which my teachers presented Reiki in light of the Catholic faith in which I had
been raised. I have found Reiki to be consistent with scripture and with my
Catholic faith. Through the Reiki attunement, we are ritually commissioned to go
forth and heal in the same way that Jesus’ disciples were commissioned:

Jesus sent them to proclaim the loving counsel of God and to heal the
sick.
(Luke 9: 2)

Reiki provides an opportunity through the charism of healing to accept the
unique way in which we are gifted and called to participate in the Body of
Christ:

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.
(1 Corinthians 12: 7-11, 27)

And in accepting this call to being the Body of Christ, we can be assured
that God will work through us in ways far beyond what we could possibly
accomplish on our own:

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.
(John 14: 12-14)

It is through prayerful reflection on scripture that I have come to
understand Reiki as one of the ways in which I am called to continue Jesus’
healing ministry and to be a vessel through which the healing love of God can be
revealed in our world.

Where I have embraced Reiki as a path revealed to me by God, for the fearful
few, Reiki cannot be considered valid because “it is not truth unless it is
explicitly handed down by the magesterium.” In this case, I believe that the
fear is that Reiki will somehow lead the practitioner or recipient away from
their Catholic faith. In my own practice, I can say that my experience has been
quite the opposite. In each situation where I am blessed to witness the healing
grace of God, I am drawn deeper into my relationship with the Divine. I am at
once humbled and awed at the way in which God works in the lives of the people
to whom I minister. As a spiritual director, Reiki has helped me to grow in my
practice and has helped me to be more effective in assisting my clients in
finding healing for their spiritual and emotional wounds. Through Reiki, I have
come to understand Catholic teachings that I had previously passed over as
irrelevant. Furthermore, Reiki has allowed me to more and more fully embrace the
Vatican II Council’s invitation to ecumenical dialogue as I grow in compassion
through exploration of and dialogue with the mystical practices of the East.
Reiki has become a magnificent tool through which I, along with my
Catholic/Christian clients have the opportunity to more and more fully embrace
the peace, love and joy that are at the heart of Christian teaching.

As I reflect on the way in which Reiki has been such a tool, one client in
particular comes to mind. This woman, stricken with MS, came for a Reiki
treatment 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 the MS. As I listened to
her story, and witnessed the despair and hopelessness in her face I asked
myself, “What good can Reiki possibly do for this woman?”

When the treatment was complete, the woman stepped down from the treatment
table and I will never forget what I saw. The woman stood up straight and in her
stride was a sense of purpose and ease that had not been there before. Her face
glowed with a look of peacefulness and serenity. She actually looked joyful. She
sat beside me and shared her experience: “What just happened? I have never felt
like this before. Never in 12 years of Catholic school, or in all the prayers I
have offered or in 50+ years of attending mass have I experienced this. For the
first time in my life, I feel completely at peace. The pain has melted away and
I feel like I have been resting within a warm vessel of love. What was that and
how can I experience this again?” Her experience brought me to tears and
together we were in awe over the way that God had reached into her broken spirit
and given her the gift of peace. She had what St. Ignatius of Loyola called her
“foundational experience of God.” From that day forward, she adopted a daily
discipline of meditation and prayer that has allowed her to grow in her faith.
While she still struggles with the physical symptoms of MS, her spiritual,
mental and emotional life are filled with contentment and joy. It is her story,
along with countless others that continues to affirm that this is the path God
has ordained for me.

As I struggle to find a response to the Bishops’ document, I am reminded that
as Reiki practitioners, we are not alone. Jesus’ own disciples were forbidden to
teach or heal in the name of their great teacher (Acts 4: 13-21). Perhaps Peter
and John’s response can be a source of inspiration and a balm of healing for
those within and without the Catholic Institution who seek to be true to the
path God has set forth for us: “Whether it is right in the sight of God
for us to obey you rather than God, you be the judges. It is impossible for us
not to speak about what we have seen and heard.”

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