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COMMENTARY

Medicine and miracles

05:05 AM April 18, 2018

When you are seriously sick, and the chances of a cure look dim, would you seek a ray of hope and pray for miraculous healing?

In this age of scientific wonders, not a few frown on the healing power of active faith and prayer. Some people even question the validity of biblical accounts about the healing and life-restoration miracles performed by Jesus as God’s anointed Messiah.

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Some physicians contend that extraordinary recoveries can be explained scientifically and, thus, must be thoroughly investigated. On the other hand, there are those who believe in adopting an open mind about the connection between medicine and spirituality. The role of spiritual care as part of palliative care and the complementary connection of medicine and spirituality are now being taken up in consensus conferences.

Dr. Alexis Carrel, a French surgeon and recipient of the Nobel Prize in medicine in 1912, repudiated reports about spontaneous healing in Lourdes, France—until he himself witnessed two events there: the sudden revival of a woman who was dying of tuberculosis and the restoration of the sight of a baby with congenital blindness after people prayed for them. Deeply moved and convinced that the power of prayer spurred their recovery, he began sharing this belief with others, even at the expense of his medical career in France.

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“As a physician I have seen men, after all other therapy failed, lifted out of disease and melancholy by the serene effort of prayer,” Carrel said in his article “Prayer is Power” (Reader’s Digest, An Anthology, 1941). “The occasions on which prayer has dramatically done this have been termed ‘miracles,’ but a constant, quicker miracle takes place in the hearts of those who have discovered that prayer supplies them with a steady flow of sustaining power in their daily lives.”

My friend Salome B. Pangilinan, a retired medical technologist in California, sent me a copy of her journal titled “A Pilgrimage to the Marian Shrines,” which chronicles her religious tour of Portugal, France and Spain with her friend Mila Hermogeno in April 2017. Mila’s compelling reason for joining the pilgrimage was her son, Michael, who was in need of a kidney transplant. She believed it would be a special way of bringing her prayer concern to the Great Healer: The person who was willing to donate a kidney had failed the initial evaluation of the doctors at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA).

With unflagging faith and hope, Mila became all the more determined to pray at the places known as sites of miraculous healing. And to her utmost gratitude, the good news reached her at one point during the pilgrimage: The UCLA doctors had recalled the same kidney donor who, after further evaluation, was deemed to be a perfect match, after all. The surgery was a success; her son received a healthy kidney.

“Today, Michael is doing very well, not only physically but also emotionally and spiritually,” Mila wrote in an e-mail. “He and his young family have adopted a healthy lifestyle. The experience has deepened their faith in God.”

Salome added: “We attribute Michael’s new lease on life to the miracle of our pilgrimage.”

The power of a positive attitude is a big healing factor, according to Dr. Hiromi Shinya, a noted gastroenterologist and surgeon in Japan and the United States. “There have been cases of very sick people miraculously recovering from illnesses after setting their minds on some goal,” he says in his book “The Enzyme Factor” (Health Harmony, B. Jain Publishers (P) Ltd., 2014).

Enzymes, he explains, are produced within the cells of living things to sustain life. He emphasizes that positive feelings such as love, gratitude and joyful enthusiasm can activate enzymes “to create energy and even bring people back from near death.” He calls them “miracle enzymes” because they reinforce the body’s ability to heal itself even as medicine and surgery “can be necessary in certain circumstances.” He urges his readers to avoid negative feelings such as hatred, resentment and jealousy, which are “as destructive to health as poor diet.”

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If we believe in the biblical declaration that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, we might as well believe that miraculous healing still happens today, that our faith and prayer can move the Holy Spirit of Jesus to work through physicians to heal us—and to make us whole in body, heart, mind and spirit.

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To relax, Prosy Badiola Torrechante crochets and dines out with family and friends.

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