OSV Alive in Christ Logo
Faith and Spiritual Growth for the Maturing Adult

Journey to Wholeness: Sickness is Not Illness

Sickness is Not Illness

by Richard P. Johnson, Ph.D.

Some years ago when I worked in a large Catholic hospital, I learned something that fundamentally changed the way I looked at healing. I noticed that there were many patients who were very sick, but who seemed to defy our cultural expectation of how patients normally act. These patients were challenged not angry, zealous not disgusted, even zestful not depressed. I came to call these folks, "spiritually-healing patients." They seemed to be in sync with something beyond themselves; they were living fully while quite infirm. What I learned there was that "sickness" and "illness" are two very different entities.

Sickness was their medical diagnosis, what the doctor said they suffered from. Illness, on the other hand, was their internal reaction to their sickness. I discovered that some patients were sick, yet not at all ill. Paradoxically, for others their illness caused them more pain than their sickness. Their illness pain was not physical, it was personal, emotional, psychological, and most of all it was spiritual. While the medical community seeks to "cure" sickness, we in the Church seek to "heal" illness.

Spiritual healing does not cure our bodily sickness, but it does help untie our guilt, soothe our sadness, dissolve our fears, and remind us of who we are—children of God. Spiritual healing lets us see that we are in this world, but not of it. By clearing our minds and souls, spiritual healing best positions us to grow toward greater overall health, and wholeness=holiness.

So how do we heal? In future articles we'll be looking at this very closely, but for now you can find out lots more by logging onto: www.healyourillness.com

resource thumbnail

Catholic-Parent Know How

An easy-to-use, practical guide helps parents be informed and engaged in the faith formation of their child.


resource thumbnail

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha: People of Faith Cards

Children encounter models of our Catholic faith through these beautifully illustrated People of Faith cards. Contains a prayer and brief biography on the back of each card.

$7.95 (25-pack)