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John Chester wrote:

Hi, guys —

After having a pleasant, non-controversial conversation with some evangelical Christians in a shopping neighborhood, on bidding them farewell, I declined to shake hands on the grounds that I suffered from a touch of arthritis.

They offered to pray for my healing (an offer which I accepted) but before I knew what was happening, they had me in a pincer movement and were praying over me in a typical Protestant fashion. I felt it would be rude to ask them to desist or perhaps I lacked the moral courage to do so.

  • As a Catholic, have I committed a sin in this case and given any offense to God (thereby requiring penance) or is this more of a minor impropriety?

Regards,

John

  { Due to an unexpected pincer movement, have I sinned by letting Protestants pray over me? }

John replied:

John —

No, you have not remotely committed any sin.

There's nothing non-Catholic, un-Catholic, or anti-Catholic,  in laying on of hands or praying over someone. It's a perfectly acceptable, biblical, and a Catholic thing to do.  It's not a Protestant issue.  They aren't protesting a Catholic Doctrine.

Over the centuries, different prayer postures developed, in particular, in different regions and cultures. While there are different rubrics and postures for different liturgical settings, when it comes to personal prayer, there are none.

The laying on of hands when praying for healing is the biblical thing to do. It's from the Epistle of James. (James 5:13-16)

Now while James is more specifically talking about the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, it has always been common place and biblical for all believers to lay hands on others when praying for healing.

Likewise when they are praying for a blessing. We see that all the way back in the Old Testament and Jesus mentions in it Mark 16 as a sign that follows them that believe . . . they shall lay hands on the sick and they will recover. (Mark 16:17-18)

John

John replied:

John,

Thank you for taking the time and trouble to obtain this answer to my query. It was very clear and very convincing.

No further worry for me on that score.

Warmest regards,

John C.

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