15 Feb 2019

The Church and Spiritual Healing: a personal perspective

by editor-admin

Here, Barbara Johnston describes the potentially conflicting influences of religion, spirituality, ego and a healing vocation. A shorter version is included in the March 2019 issue of Spiritus, the membership magazine of The Healing Trust. All views are Barbara's own. 

I am responding to a very interesting piece written by Matthew Manning in the October issue of Spiritus and on his Facebook page. ‘If you were ill would you seek help from a practitioner with little or no training?’

In this article, Matthew describes how dismayed he was by seeing an online video which promised reiki practitioner status in just four hours!

 I would have absolutely no problem in allowing a student healer to practise on me. This way we could exchange information regarding energies sensed etc, which in turn would be of great benefit to them in gaining experience and confidence in their chosen path.  However, if I were seeking out a spiritual healer for my own ill-health, I would without doubt choose one who had a true understanding of divine energies, visualisation and the Code of Conduct. This can only be effectively achieved through proper training with a certified healing federation.

This article, written by Matthew, resonated with me very strongly and it brought to mind a couple of recent occurrences, which I feel impelled to share with you.  Before I continue, it is necessary to affirm that all types of spiritual healing are wonderful, when practised sincerely through humility, empathy, understanding, compassion and devotion, whilst attuning to the Divine Source of unconditional love, which automatically results in healing sessions not being ego-based.  We, as healers, are very conscious of the fact that when we tune into a patient we are acting as a channel for healing energy to be transmitted to them.

Firstly, I was recently left speechless by a couple of ‘qualified’ reiki healers. One lady stated, with great pride, that she ‘qualified’ as a reiki healer, online, and then actually admitted that when she is healing, that she is certain that any healing given to a recipient or patient is coming directly from her, and that she has been bestowed a great gift!  The second lady who ‘qualified’ over a period of a couple of months at a couple of weekend workshops, told me that she felt that it was not necessary to attune, prior to the healing session and that she does not meditate at all, saying that it was not obligatory!

Secondly, On 10thOctober 2018, my attention was drawn to an article, in the Irish News, written by Bishop Alphonous Cullinan, the Catholic Bishop of Waterford.  He stated that he is establishing a ‘delivery ministry’ of people who will attempt to rid others of the devil and warned that using reiki or other new-age healing methods could open one up to the possibility of encountering malevolent spirits. Then this was reiterated in the news on 30thOctober, 2018, by a Catholic priest, Fr David Jones of Co Meath, who further stated that, “Irish parents should beware of Lucifer and reiki….the use of reiki opens up pores and chakras to negative as well as positive energies. The people who engage in reiki do so out of goodwill, but the means is not safe. You are opening the channels to all who are out there and it's us, the priests, who have to pick up the pieces and reiki is one of the worst ones to pick up the pieces from.”

I found these sweeping statements totally unacceptable, firstly because the bishop and the priest in question appear to dismiss all forms of spiritual healing. To me it is obvious that little research has been done on their part before assuming that they are in a position to announce these judgments.

Although I was born into a Catholic family, from quite an early age I questioned many of the grim aspects of the spiritual theologies and philosophies that were presented to me in my religious upbringing.  Then, years later, I perused a book by Anthony De Mello, which I found very progressive and reassuring.  I read that, “For many centuries theologians instilled in church goers the belief that God could only be found and addressed through the church’s ministries. Now, the Christian churches have been forced to abandon their earlier and highly exclusive understanding that God is present in the world only through their ministrations by their encounter with other cultures and other religions” (Anthony De Mello S.J.)

After much deliberation on this subject, I had reassurance that the beliefs that were initially instilled in my early religious education, were controlling and fear-based.  What Anthony de Mello wrote confirmedsome of my renewed thinking regarding Christian churches. In recent years, many of these churches’ earthly dogmatic views have been challenged, changed, or even removed.  With the massive erosion of Christianity globally, the power and control of the church is undoubtedly slipping away.

So, could it be considered as a possibility that these remarks,made by the said bishop and priest, be a backlash and a subtle way of controlling and putting fear back into people who have now chosen to go on what they consider an non-religious path of healing, and also directed at those who may seek spiritual healing?

What has obviously been totally forgotten by the Christian Church is that, whilst Jesus himself had wonderful healing powers, this tradition was a prominent feature for about three centuries after his death. Spiritual healing, at this time, was thought of as a true spiritual gift.  Bishops and priests would perform healing work, and were considered blessed by the Holy Spirit. They nursed the sick, by the laying of hands, to emulate the healing ministry of Jesus.Unfortunately, this died out after the Christian Church was firmly established, by the fourth century. Why? Because changes in healing beliefs and practices did not suit religious authority, the new church structure at that time and ideas about sanctity.  It was then decided that anyone who demonstrated healing abilities would be denounced as ‘false’ ‘evil’ and ‘heretics’ and were liable to punishment. And yet a few centuries before, Jesus said to the people,“Heal the sick, …freely ye have received, freely give.”(Matthew 10:8)  I think it's interesting how Jesus told usto heal the sick! (Mark 16:17-18)makes it clear that all believers, ie those who walk in the light, have the authority to lay hands on people and heal them! “But if we walk in the Light, as he is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another”(1.John 1:7 ESV).  I further question why the Church does not bring the true meaning of these words from Jesus forward into their teachings.

When a problem unfolds in our life, the cause can either be physical, psychological or spiritual.  Being healers, we are aware that our main aim as healers is to help others, not merely at a physical level but also focusing on the spiritual growth of each individual.  Spiritual research has indicated that up to 80% of the problems in a person’s life can have their root cause within their spiritual aspect.  There is never any guarantee, from devout healers, that healing will bring about miracles, yet there is no denial that extraordinary healing miracles have been documented through this practice. Nor can we delay death, as this happens in accordance with the recipient’s chosen purpose in life and their soul’s journey.  Nor can healing stop the natural processes of getting older. But what we can do as healers, is ease the pressure for the recipient/patient, by helping them to relax, through the healing, which will give them a more positive attitude, an acceptance and serenity, which often brings profound changes into their lives. This in turn helps them to eliminate negativities like anxiety, tension, depression, anger, fear, isolation, resentment etc. And, without doubt, often the subtle transference of healing energy from the healer to the patient can accelerate the patient’s own physical natural healing abilities, and or have an immediate beneficial effect on their health.

Spiritual healing is basically a natural interchange of energy, and there is absolutely nothing paranormal about it, even though it defies rational or scientific explanation.  We as healers know that spiritual healing always works on all levels of the self, and is used to complement traditional medicine and not considered an alternative. We never assume that we can replace the medical profession. We work with a non-judgmental approach, and do our very best to live in the present moment. Also, through the wonderful act and practice of spiritual healing we have aligned ourselves to help a person grow spiritually. And as the healing is performed, when we keep this higher purpose in mind, then our spiritual capability to heal does not diminish. I have no doubt that authentic spiritual healing awakens or intensifies the connection with the Divine aspect in each and every person who seeks this form of healing. This process in itself is totally miraculous.

It is a huge responsibility on any healer who has been asked to intervene in a trusting patient’s health. So, one should look carefully into one’s own motivation, when considering to become a healer. It is not about becoming rich and famous, or to be a crutch, or feel needed by many vulnerable people. We need to be genuine about our reasons for taking this path and also be  motivated by genuine love and compassion for our fellow humans, and not be looking for anything in return from our patients, except of course a small fee for our services, to help us get by. It is necessary for probationers to develop their spirituality by reading spiritual material and meditating, and also working for a time with an accredited healer to gain experience and confidence.

Therefore, I find it impossible to fathom how any quickie certificate, which provides little or no training, or understanding of interconnectedness, energies and unison among all beings, can authenticate someone to take on this responsibility. Any person who puts themselves forward in a healing capacity to patients, without having a thorough understanding of this ability, I would consider questionable.

I have over the years met many excellent and sincere categories of healers, including reiki healers. I sense that these ‘quickie’ qualifications we have been referring to, and certainly the remarks from the Christian clergy, regarding modes of healing, are a weak attempt to relegate healing abilities whilst also trying to undermine and potentially damage this wonderful establishment.  But we will not allow this!  As healers we are totally aware that this calling, to us, is a permanent way of life.

Barbara Johnston has been a spiritual healer accredited by the NFSH Healing Trust since 1990.  She has an Honours MA in Applied Spirituality from the National University of Ireland. She organises and holds workshops in Ireland, teaching how to connect and communicate with angels, guides and loved ones. Barbara also holds one-to-one sessions for spiritual healing and spiritual readings.  She can be contacted through her web site: www.spiritualworkshops.ie





  1. How do can I get over my mother death I have night mirrors every night I don’t sleep I m just so tired

    1. Dear Caroline, we are sorry for your loss and hope that you have good memories of your mother and can feel her love within you. Regarding your nightmares, it may be that energy healing, either face to face or distant, may help you feel greater peace. You can find a healer here.

  2. Hello

    Where are you based near Northampton please for training?

    Best wishes

    1. Hello Aura

      Can you get in touch with one of your local Healing Trust contacts here? They should be able to help. Alternatively it’s worth contacting the Healing Trust office at office@www.thehealingtrust.org.uk to see if any online training is scheduled in the coming months. Very best wishes in your ongoing training.

  3. Dear Barbara,

    This was a great article. Many years ago, I became a born again Catholic, attended a retreated and was healed of a back injury, it was a charismastic retreat, I believe I was healed by the Holy Spirit and I felt a great energy , I was near to paralysis that astonished Drs and osteopaths. I have since become a devout Catholic and do not want to be led astray by New Age practices. Having said that I have visions, I have once seen someone’s aura, I see holy figures, I feel the presence of angels or have once met one and see the presence of angels , my third eye is opened. There are still a lot of blocks in my life and health ailments. My intuition tell me if I do an energy course I will understand my gifts better, find healing and eliminate blocks however I am a bit wary because mentions spirit guides and I do now want to open myself to dangerous energies or powers.

  4. Thanks for sharing the amazing post, Caroline!

    It’s fascinating how reality is more close to spirituality at the quantum level, yet most people have a reluctant attitude. I’m glad to be serving humanity through the spiritual healing methods I have learned and practiced over the course of a decade. Should anyone be curious about knowing what those methods are, they can find more information on my website https://roohanionlinespiritualhelp.co.uk/

  5. Hi,
    Thank you for putting this out there. I agree with your opinion and I hope more people would come to agree with this as well.
    Spiritual healing is important because it allows people to live a better life away from their materialism, selfishness, close-mindedness, and unhealthy coping mechanisms.
    You may also read my blog on The Importance of Spiritual Healing
    Hope this will also help…

  6. Hi my name is precious I need some spiritual healing

    1. We are passing your request on to our distant healing service coordinator Precious. We wish you well on your healing journey.

  7. Thankyou for this article

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