Friday, January 4, 2008

Prayed Upon

Meredith has written a post about something those of us with disabilities have experienced: when people tell us they will pray for us - or when some Christians seem to think we haven't prayed enough ourselves or we would be - well - cured. She addresses spiritual versus physical healing as well as practical suggestions. As a trained hospice worker and PA, she's only just beginning to write about her experiences in those professions- with my blessing.

Have I been prayed upon? I have, although not by Catholics. I consider it inappropriate and intrusive for anyone to lay hands on me to heal me or to question my faith because I am "still disabled". Please!

Our Church has a sacrament to address healing and Catholic priests have been very respectful about administering that sacrament - by request only. And no clergy member has ever said anything implying that I would be healed if I was a better Catholic.

One of my friends has been so scarred emotionally by being prayed over that she wouldn't even go into a bible bookstore when we were on a trip together. The mere sight of the crosses and bibles brought back bad memories of being "prayed over for a cure" as a child. And I think that's the result of the dangerous intersection of religion and ableism.

8 comments:

Meredith said...

Great response and post! I couldn't imagine how horrific that would be to go into a bible store and have that happen. It's like when people you've never met come up and rub your pregnant belly like they have aright to touch you, eeeewww, only worse. Blessings to you in your faith journey! http://happyheartsmom.typepad.com/

Ruth said...

eew is right! Since I hear about this happening to people pretty frequently, I'm glad Meredith blogged about it - it's a good dialogue to have. Blessings to you too - and happy new year.

Gen X Revert said...

She would kill me for posting this, but our parish has a healing Mass twice a year. The ushers always assume my wife is going to want to sit in the front for a blessing, but she either tells them "I am not sick, I am disabled"!! or just ignores them.

Ruth said...

Gen X: I hear about this a lot too and am glad you left a comment about it. People mix up disability and illness and although people with disabilities may have illnesses (like anyone else) to think of disability as an illness is an error. But it's common as a misperception.

Julie said...

Joni Eareckson Tada spoke on the same subject on her radio program. ("Better to Be Disabled" 11/19/07. A link can be found on her website, joniandfriends.org) She said that sometimes people seem to place an inordinate emphasis on her physical body than her spiritual state. She said she would rather have those people pray for something like her selfishnees, instead.

People notice my body before they see me, too, because I'm pretty overweight. Well-intentioned church ladies sometimes assume I must have low-self esteem and make remarks about how much Jesus loves me, ANYWAY- before they we've even officially met. Those are the first words they say to me. (These comments are as uninvited, btw, as those which come from family members who feel free to lecture, at will and at random, 'out of concern'.)

It's amazing how many people feel free to comment on my body!

Ruth said...

Julie, Thanks for the link to Joni's radio program. Joni & Friends is a great resource. How intrusive that is that remarks get made about your weight! It's really good to educate people about how that makes you feel.

Edward said...

Ruth, I have gotten it from a Catholic. A few years ago I attended an indult Tridentine Mass in Pittsburgh, and while in the vestibule a man handed me a prayer card with a "blessed" rose petal saying it was "for my healing". I subsequently found out this particular prayer card was connected to Bayside, which as you may know is the site of an alleged apparition of Mary that has been disapproved by the local bishop. I e-mailed the pastor about this incident but never got a response.

I actually don't mind people praying for my healing, as I'm sure they usually mean well, but if I recall correctly the man didn't even make an effort to introduce himself or ask me for my name. He just gave me the card and went on his way. That seems to me a kind of "drive-by prayer", if I may coin a term.

Ruth said...

Edward, I like your term "drive-by prayer"! Thanks for writing about your experiences -the comments here and what I've heard from others really do support that this is common.