It has happened throughout Christian history. St. Dominic raised a Roman boy from the dead in front of a number of highly intelligent witnesses, for instance. We have their testimony which has been preserved as part of his canonization process. It is the experience of the resurrection power of Jesus Christ breaking through at its fullest.
But here's a medically documented story from February 1, 2008 news story on Palm Beach, Florida television station WSVN. (Hat tip: Mark Shea)
A well-known, local cardiologist tells the story:
Jeff Markin: "I drove to the Garden's Hospital, went in, took out my wallet and fell on the floor with a massive heart attack."
For 40 minutes doctors and nurses in the ER tried to revive him. When they couldn't get his heart started again they called for Dr. Crandall, who was doing rounds in the hospital at the time.
Dr. Chauncey Crandall: "As I entered the ER it was like a war zone. Here was this lifeless body on a stretcher."
The doctor couldn't do anything and could only confirm what everyone already knew, Jeff was dead. He had gone almost an hour without a heartbeat, and his body was starting to decompose.
Dr. Chauncey Crandall: "His face, his arms, his legs were pitch black with death. I said, 'Let's just call the code, let's end it because there's no life left.'"
As Dr. Crandall turned to leave, he says he got another call this time, a call from God to pray.
Dr. Chauncey Crandall: "A voice told me to turn around and pray for that man. I looked down at the body, and I said, 'Lord, what can I pray for this man? He's gone.' All of a sudden these words came out, 'Father, I cry out for this man's soul, if he does not know, you raise him from the dead.'"
Despite protests from doctors and nurses who were preparing Jeff's body for the morgue, doctor Crandall insisted they shock him one more time.
Dr. Chauncey Crandall: "So that doctor came over with those paddles and blasted that man and, all of a sudden, instantly a perfect heartbeat came up on the monitor. The stomach started moving, the chest started moving. This man started breathing on his own, and I said, 'This man has been prayed for, he has been brought back from the dead by prayer in the name of Jesus.'"
He woke up to a second chance, one that can't be explained by medicine or science. As Dr. Crandall puts it, the only answer is divine intervention.
Dr. Chauncey Crandall: "You are speaking to a scientist, a cardiologist, someone who loves medicine. I've never, ever seen this. There are always people that do not believe these events, and I will just tell them that it did happen. It was a real story, a real life that was restored."
What is interesting is that Dr. Crandall also mentions in the interview that he routinely prays for his patients.
Dr. Chauncey Crandall: "If you come in with a problem into our service, we are definitely going to treat you with conventional medicine, but we are going to believe it too. We are going to attack it with conventional medicine, and we are going to attack it with prayer."
He calls himself the Christian physician because he prays with each heart patient he sees at his Palm Beach practice. The difference, he says, is dramatic.
Dr. Chauncey Crandall: "The reason I pray for people is because I found, early in my trained practice, that there were miracles, unexplained healings."
The healer with a charism of healing. We've heard these kinds of stories from other medical professionals who exercise their professional skill and the charism of healing together and who see astonishing clinical results that definitely transcend the clinical norm. And I've met priests who are used in this way, through the sacramental ministry and outside of it.
My brother, who is a chiropractor who seems to also have a charism of healing, has a remarkable tale, which I've told before in my series on Independent Christianity.
Last summer he accompanied a team of volunteers from his evangelical church to build a house in an extremely poor Indian village in southern Baja. My brother is an experienced chiropractor who has pioneered new techniques and traveled around the world teaching them. Gary was treating local people when a frail woman was brought in who had suffered from a serious and very painful dislocation of the elbow for 3 years. Gary hesitated. There was no way to obtain an x-ray. Treating such a neglected injury in a woman who was already fragile without proper diagnostic tools is very tricky and he was afraid that he would hurt her. As he struggled to decide what to do, a local Protestant pastor suggested that he pray. Gary did so, asking that the bones align themselves properly.
My brother said that the woman’s arm started to quiver and then, with a loud pop that was heard all over the room, the elbow slipped into place by itself. The woman had full strength almost immediately. The visiting team asked the woman to share her healing with the teen-agers on the trip so that they would know that they could expect great things from God. My brother joyfully summed it up this way: “The whole experience was what church should be like.”
I once did a gifts interview with a woman who had had a international healing ministry for 30 years and described the experience of seeing the dead raised. I, of course, tried to affect a calm, matter of fact professional air about the whole thing and asked simply. "Hmmm. Raising the dead? Can you describe what you did and what happened step by step?"
Dang if she didn't want to talk about it but really wanted to talk about something else. Bummer.
There is such a need for the healing ministry out there. If you are interested in getting some top notch training in this area, I'd like to suggest the Institute for Christian Ministries in Seattle. Founded by a Dominican friar, Fr. Leo, who lived in the same priory with Fr. Michael Sweeney at Blessed Sacrament parish in Seattle, ICM combines the best of professional pastoral care with a confidence in the supernatural power and love of God to heal. The Formation in Healing Ministry Program is a portable two year training that produces teams of three who pray in a direct and sustained way for those sick in body, heart, or spirit.
During my Seattle days, I interviewed dozens of ICM alumni and so I have some sense of the remarkable things that happen when they pray. Fr. Mike brought the Formation in Healing Ministry Program into the Newman center in Eugene when he was pastor and had a wonderful experience with it.
As Fr. Leo used to say " wherever God's love is present, healing occurs." This is one big incentive for discerning the charisms you have been given and for facilitating the discernment of others. All the charisms are healing in the broader sense because all of them make God's love present. And then some in our midst are given the specific, narrow gift of healing and restore life and hope to so many.
Luke 10:9: "Cure it those who are sick and say, The Kingdom of God is very near to you."