Thursday, February 7, 2008
We've all been to missions at church. Mostly it's a priest who is a good speaker and we sit and listen and that's good, we learn a lot. But somehow I have not been too inspired to go to this type of mission.
At our church just before Lent, we had a different type of mission given by John and Sally Cojanis. I guess the fact that they ARE lay people and that people who have attended their missions say there are some miraculous physical healings taking place, intrigued me enough to attend.
This couple, obviously in a long term marriage, are just ordinary folks like us, living on a major shoestring (they are some of the few in the fulltime ministry who really ARE living hand to mouth - although God's Hand to their mouth!).
Cojanis' are real. They don't pretend to be something they aren't. John does prayers of healing (and attendees of his mission participate in praying for others, a very healing practice in itself) but he says up front that sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn't (the physical healings). I think the spiritual healings DO happen to all who attend! And those are the most important healings.
You cannot really put them in a category or box. They are NOT "faith healers". But miracles happen at their missions. They are charismatic but probably not in the charismatic movement.
They DO give talks containing homespun wisdom which all can relate to. For example we were told to go to confession. John asked us "what if you were in this very fancy restaurant, you know the type where the waiter comes and asks (in a British accent) 'can I grind some pepper for your dinner?'. And then the waiter goes into the kitchen, kicking open the door and you see all sorts of cockroaches - on the counters, on the floors?" He then pointed out that if we don't go to confession, our souls could look like that restaurant kitchen! It was memorable!
We were also asked to forgive someone we know. I, at first, thought, "well I've forgiven everyone" but John told us "think of someone you need to forgive, someone who did not treat you very well!" And a friend who had dropped me without any explanation came to mind. John led us through a prayer of forgiveness for that person. He said the words and we repeated after him. And that was a healing feeling to do that. More importantly we learned HOW to pray like that! "You know, the bridge to Heaven is made of YOUR forgivenness!" John reminded us. What a picture and how true seeing as how we pray in the Lord's Prayer "Forgive us our sins AS we forgive those who sin against us!"
What I loved about this mission was I could relate to everything they said in their talks (Sally read a poem about if Jesus came to stay with us, would we have to change the way we lived? Would we feel comfortable or wait for Him to leave?). And then, after the talks, we prayed together and John taught us HOW to pray for each other. It was a spiritually intense experience and very healing whether the physical healing came or not.
John and Sally are very much in demand (I can imagine - most who attend this mission love it) and they travel a lot, living most of the time in a motorhome and following a rather backbreaking schedule.
John has had two unsuccessful heart bypass surgeries and lives with the cloud over his head of wondering how much longer the Lord will allow him to minister. The mission was not easy for him to give. The second day, he sat down for part of the prayer service and looked very tired and pale after the first session was done.
There are many around who claim to be annointed and I find most of them not what they claim but, and I don't say this lightly, this couple SEEMED really annointed to me, very up front and just darned good people.
There were no spectacular healings at our session although I heard that at the night session, there were more healings. I felt the pain in my arthritic thumb go away and also the crunching in my neck (from arthritis). The crunching in my neck is still gone but the pain in my thumb has returned with a vengeance. Relief from it for a couple of days was nice though.
John said to continue our healings we needed prayer AND fasting. And that fasting combined with prayer was powerful. "But don't fast to lose weight," he told us. And this Ash Wednesday, I fasted for the first time in my life. And it was hard for me but a good feeling.
If John and Sally Cojanis visit your parish, go to their mission - go both days because I believe it is an honor to have attended and you will certainly, walk away with a whole lot of spiritual healing, increased skills in praying, serenity and peace and some good tools for practicing Christianity. You might even witness a miracle of physical healing or two or three.