Operating on Faith: The Religious Approach to Medicine
Religious faith can do marvels for those who possess it. According to a 2008 article from The Washington Post, “religious attendance in general adds two to three years to life.” And, in 2011, Breaking Christian News reported those who believe in God live healthier and longer lives – by up to 14 years according to studies.
But what about health practitioners themselves? Isn’t it important that they also have some sort of faith in order to believe in their own healing powers? Dr. Anthony Sooner (name changed for privacy) certainly believes so.
Dr. Sooner has been practicing general medicine for 28 years, but more important than his label as a doctor, is his Catholic faith. He was born and raised to believe in the church and he and his wife of 25 years still consider themselves devout.
The faith of Dr. and Mrs. Sooner is so rich that they erected a small but beautiful Catholic cathedral in their backyard, complete with religious paintings, a large crucifix, and a manger scene with Baby Jesus surrounded by his parents, several manger animals, and the three wise men.
Why did they do this? Because they attribute everything that happens in this world to the Holy Spirit. Therefore, they believe Dr. Sooner’s success as a physician is also the handiwork of God, and they live to praise him and his son Jesus.
“Nothing would be possible without God,” Dr. Sooner says. “This temple allows us to worship him seven days a week. We still attend church on the weekends, but our at-home worship is more private.”
In addition to his regular medical practice, Dr. Sooner also opened the Sacred Heart Clinic in January of 2011. This provides free medical services on the first Friday of each month to those in need. Of course, neither the name nor the premise of this practice is coincidental; it, too, is a reflection of Dr. Sooner’s devotion to the Catholic religion. Dr. Sooner explains,
“One of the most significant figures in the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is Visitandine Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, who allegedly had visions of Jesus Christ. For instance, she reported on December 27, 1673, that Jesus permitted her, as he had formerly allowed St. Gertrude, to rest her head upon His Heart. He then told her of the wonder of His love, stating he wanted all mankind to know of this love, and that He had chosen her for this specific task.”
Dr. Sooner’s belief in the Sacred Heart Devotion is matched only by his desire to help others. His clinic is housed in his private practice and managed by his regular office staff. Medical assistants and nurses within the community have also come together to donate their time and services. In the future, Dr. Sooner hopes to integrate specialized fields of medicine with the services currently provided at Sacred Heart.
“It’s important to listen to and follow the voice of God,” he says. “That’s how I’ve raised my family and lived my life. I practice this same approach with my medicine, and it’s served me well for almost 30 years. There’s something to be said about faith… you can’t deny that we are all part of something much, much bigger.”