Canada is recognized around the world as a wonderful outdoor experience with its wealth of natural resources and vibrancy. As Canada has evolved through the years, this vibrancy has continued to resonate through its communities and people. Historically, Canadians are well known for their pioneering and frontier spirit, which is a precious commodity. Now, that spirit, wisdom, talent, and potential of Canadians are being tapped to begin to change its health care system.
With board input from theologians, health personnel, patients, and others interested in health care, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops released its pastoral letter on sickness and healing in September 1983. Acknowledging that suffering and healing are mysteries beyond complete understanding, the letter illuminates the connection between caring for one's own health, helping the sick, and following Christ. The letter's first major section reviews suffering and healing as presented in the Bible, and asserts that the act of healing should help to restore not only the body but also the sufferer's relationship with God and with the community. The letter's second section surveys the history of the healing tradition within the Church and notes that, because the great healers often suffered themselves, their example can help people to integrate suffering into their own quest for wholeness and spiritual growth. In the pastoral's third section the bishops suggest attitudes and practices for those who wish to be healers today. They apply theological teaching to five practical levels of pastoral concern: individual actions, parish communities, Catholic and other health care institutions, and the social, economic, and political community. Each level, the bishops stress, must play an important role in healing and salvation.
What are the sources and definitions of theological reflection developed by Canadian practitioners of pastoral care and counseling? This study is part of a larger qualitative research project on theological reflection. This research reviews the literature, describes the ethnographic method, and presents the findings with a sample of 75. Main sources are sacred texts, personal experience, experiences of clients, and traditions of faith group. Definitions are meaning making, discovering the divine and discipleship with recommendations for future research listed.