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Links for Learners

by Lynn and Bob Gillen

March 2000

The following Links for Learners resource is offered to those who would like to use St. Anthony Messenger in an educational setting or for further study at home. This resource is prepared with high school students in mind, but can be adapted for other age groups. We will feature one article for further study each month. Back issues, beginning in May 1997, contain this resource. Up until December 1998 it was called a teacher's guide or classroom resource. Teachers with access to computer labs should encourage students to access the article directly online. Students have our permission to print out a copy of the article for classroom use. We encourage you to subscribe to the print edition of St. Anthony Messenger, where you will see all of the graphics, and more articles that you might find useful on a variety of topics. Please let us know how we can improve this service by sending feedback to

Click here for a complete listing of Links for Learners

Please see our links disclaimer located at the end of this document.

Links for Learning

Finding Curriculum Connections for High School Teachers and Students

This month’s Links for Learners will support high school curriculum in:

    • Religion—the Gospels; Jesus as redeemer; sacraments; medical ethics
    • Social Studies—role of health care in our communities
    • Science—the practice of medicine
Finding Links for Discussion Group Leaders and Participants

Look for connections for use in programs outside the classroom, such as:

  • Parish sacramental preparation programs and CCD classes; young adult discussion programs; seasonal discussion groups; RCIA programs.
  • Parents will also find this material useful in initiating discussion around the dinner table, in home study, at family activities or as preparation for parent/teacher meetings.

Understanding Basic Terms in This Month’s Article

Look for these key words and terms as you read the article. Definitions or explanations can be researched from the article itself, or from the resource materials cited throughout the Links for Learners.

Crisis of meaning

Human spirit

Religion and Science

Spiritual healing

Coping mechanism


Miraculous healing

Heightened spirituality

Privatization of spirituality

Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick


I was ill and you cared for me

This month's article highlights the Catholic Church's tradition of caring for the sick. Since the earliest days of the Church, Catholic Christians have seen caring for the sick as part of their mission to continue Christ's presence in the world. In almost every part of the United States, and all through the world, dedicated congregations of sisters have established Catholic hospitals and health care networks. Mother Teresa is certainly one of the best known of these caregivers. Mother Seton, born to wealth as Elizabeth Seton, was the first American saint and founder of an order dedicated to serving the poor through health care and education. Today the Sisters of Charity Federation encompasses 10 congregations and 7,000 members.

You don't have to travel far, especially in poorer areas, before encountering a Catholic hospital. You may find it enlightening to identify and research the Catholic hospital nearest to your school or parish. A visit or call to the public relations department of the hospital, or viewing its Web site, will provide you with information on the hospital's mission statement and its affiliated hospitals. You may be surprised to learn just how extensive Catholic health care is. For example, Catholic Healthcare West (CHW), based in northern California and run by the Sisters of Mercy, operates 48 hospitals in California, Arizona and Nevada. Through mergers and acquisitions, CHW has grown by taking both Catholic and non-Catholic hospitals into its network. You'll find in the mission statements for all these Catholic institutions a concern for both body and spirit.

Matters of the spirit have long been pushed aside in America, says our author. Rabbi Marc Gellman, one half of Good Morning America's famed God Squad, agrees. It is still acceptable, Gellman says, to be prejudiced against those who take their faith seriously. (See "Priest and Rabbi: The Media's God Squad" in St. Anthony Messenger Online's archives.)

As Catholic medical schools now lead in teaching physicians how to be attentive to the spiritual needs of their patients while treating their physical illnesses, more doctors will see the body-spirit relationship as integral to healing. The article cites Loyola University Medical Center and its Stritch School of Medicine, as well as Georgetown University Medical Center, as organizations now preparing their students for the spiritual dimension of healing. Harvard Medical School and the American Academy of Family Physicians have also recently conducted studies on spirituality's relationship to medical treatment.

While the medical community in the United States is increasingly receptive to linking faith and medicine, resistance still exists. The Journal of the American Medical Association has published articles such as "What is the role of spirituality in medicine?", discussing the pros and cons of the issue. One physician, for example, sees spirituality as a serious threat to medical ethics. Dr. Richard Sloan, chief of the department of behavioral medicine at New York State Psychiatric Institute, worries about using religion as a form of treatment. Much harm can be done, he argues, if a physician even hints that a patient who fails to recover is weak in faith.

For further discussion, see the National Institute for Healthcare Research. Here you'll gain access to information on the top 10 research studies on spirituality and health conducted in the mid-to late 90's. Another spirituality and health Web site offers a self-test on forgiveness and healing. You may also refer to your local broadcast schedules for PBS' weekly program on mind, body and spirit. For a print reference, see Harold George Koenig's The Healing Power of Faith, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1999.

What needs healing in us?

In Mark's Gospel (5:25-34) we see the wonderful story of the woman with the chronic illness who sought to be cured by Jesus. Treated by physicians for 12 years, the woman was unable to find relief for her condition. And then, learning of Jesus, she knew in her heart that simply to touch his clothes would cure her. And it did. Not one to pass up a teachable moment, Jesus called her out of the crowd and used her faith-inspired cure to demonstrate God's power over nature.

Even if we cannot identify with this woman's plight, surely something in us needs healing. Whether physical, mental or emotional, don't we all suffer from some affliction that nags at us and just won't go away despite our efforts and prayers? It might be an illness such as recurring cancer or the onset of Alzheimer's disease. Maybe it's a struggle with an addictive behavior such as drug or alcohol abuse. For some it may be an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia or a constant battle with low self-esteem.

Talk openly about the situations that may afflict you to the point of ill health: anxiety over financial problems; fear brought on by a painful relationship; chronic weariness from too many responsibilities; stress over seeking good grades for admission to college; alienation from peer groups or fellow workers; an inner rage self-inflicted by an inability to deal with what life sends our way.

We can so desperately want to be healed. Don't many of us turn to sedatives, to mind-numbing activities, to denial, because we can't find a cure for our ills? Even constant prayer doesn't seem to help.

Discuss the woman's faith in Mark's Gospel. After a long period of fruitlessly seeking help from the medical establishment of the time, she opens her heart to Jesus. Her faith is so simple that she needs only to touch his clothes to be healed. No introductions, no long petitions, no whining or cajoling. Just a touch. Do we have such a fundamental faith?

How can we touch Jesus' garment? Where can we find healing? It is our fundamental Christian belief that Jesus still lives, that he is among us. Where do we reach him?

  • Silent prayer and meditation—We can touch Jesus in the silence of our own hearts. In The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey says he finds renewal in the daily prayerful meditation on the Scriptures. The spiritual dimension is our core, the heart of our value system. Jesus speaks in the Scriptures, in nature, in total silence.
  • Participation in the sacraments—In Penance we bring our faults to Jesus through his Church to seek forgiveness and cleansing. The Eucharist nourishes us with his presence. The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick helps us deal with serious illness. Jesus is present to us in these moments.
  • Trusting our caregivers—Under the best of circumstances, dependence on others for care and direction can be difficult, even eroding our self-esteem. An attitude of trust will help us open our hearts to what others have to offer. A parent, a physician, a teacher, a true friend—each can speak to us of Jesus while offering us assistance.

In our celebrity-conscious world, we easily get caught up in wanting to know everything about our favorite movie or television star. Perhaps we collect magazine stories and pictures. We endure jostling crowds to try for an autograph if we sight a famous sports figure at a ball game. We will pay large sums of money for a souvenir once touched by someone famous. Touching Jesus is as near as our own open heart.


Research Resources

Try accessing some of these Internet sources for further reference. Be aware, however, that some of these sites may charge for downloading articles contained within the site’s archives.

Pathfinder - Access site to a number of online news publications
People magazine
The Close Up FoundationWashington, D.C.-based organization

Links Disclaimer:

The links contained within this resource guide are functional at the time the page is posted. Over time, however, some of the links may become ineffective.

These links are provided solely as a convenience to you and not as an endorsement by St. Anthony Messenger Press/Franciscan Communications of the contents on such third-party Web sites. St. Anthony Messenger Press/Franciscan Communications is not responsible for the content of linked third-party sites and does not make any representations regarding the content or accuracy of materials on such third-party Web sites. If you decide to access linked third-party Web sites, you do so at your own risk.

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