HENDERSONVILLE, N.C.—Across from the coloring leaves of the North Carolina mountains and amidst the lifting fog, the priests of the diocese assembled for their annual retreat at the Kanuga Conference, Retreat and Camp Center.
Leading the retreat this year was Father Philip Scott, the founder of Family of Jesus the Healer, based in Peru. Father Scott preached using the spirituality of his congregation: to live and grow in our “sonship” with Jesus the Son into the family of the Holy Trinity.
While Father Scott focused on how we need “to be parented” by our heavenly Father, he also asserted that we need to be parented by Mary, our Mother, and that “God gave us a mother because we need one.”
Having had an abusive father himself, Father Scott spoke on how we need to grow in a correct spirituality as children of God so as to have a true identity of ourselves. He said that those who suffer from abuse and/or neglect often suffer from gender identity, criminal behavior, and many other wounds that are less serious but nonetheless affect us from becoming the person God created us to be.
“Not only is there a physical sense of abandonment, there is emotional abandonment, but the spiritual one is even deeper,” he said.
Father Scott said the symptoms of abandonment include a deep sense of loneliness, a need for noise to fill the void, significant envy of others, and a disordered sense that “it’s all up to me” and no one else is there to help. He coined a phrase that abandonment is like “drowning in a glass of water,” being constantly overwhelmed by what God “allows” to happen to them. Rather, we need to be overwhelmed by God, the Infinite. Other symptoms include self-abuse and eating disorders, particularly over-eating.
Asserting that “No one is more human than God because of the Incarnation,” Father Scott emphasized that priests need to spend time with the Son and should be poster children of prayer as Jesus was.
Whether ordained or baptized, Christians should always ask: “How much time do I spend with Jesus?” When encountering young adults who struggle with gender identity or as agnostics, Father Scott prays with and over them, allowing God the Father to parent them to experience His love. Often, the encounter opens them up to seek further healing to overcome their challenges.
The Family of Jesus the Healer was founded by Father Scott in 1998 under the auspices of Bishop Robert Lynch of the Diocese of St. Petersburg, Florida. The congregation lives as a family of priests, brothers, and sisters bound by vows of obedience, chastity, poverty, and martyrdom, praying for healing and being formed in the family by the Divine Family (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). They seek to live out in a prophetic manner the baptismal vocation to follow Jesus and to be His instruments of healing for families; not only the domestic family, but the broader family of the Church and of society.
Father Scott provides priest retreats, men’s and women’s retreats, and parish missions, endeavoring to bring the healing that he himself received.
By Father John Zimmerman/Special to The Miscellany