Q :  Can Catholics practice longevitology?
【 Question from 】 Toronto, Canada

Fr. Francis : 

I believe “longevitology” refers to “長生學”, which, at least in Toronto, is becoming very popular among the Chinese lately.

Since I have had only one limited exposure to it and have not studied it in details, I am not going to make a direct assessment of it. I also suspect the Catholic Church at large is not aware of it and so certainly it has made no official pronouncement regarding it either.

However, I will allow myself to make the following observations:

1. My one limited experience of it told me that longevitology has to do with how to bring healing to ourselves and one another using the energy we already possess. This energy varies from person to person, but may increase with physical touch and good, loving thoughts/intentions. So, if someone is not well, one is encouraged to put hands on the person, especially on certain parts of the body, and think of good and loving thoughts; and the more people the better. This may go on for 30, 45 mins or an hour. Apparently, people would experience heat coming from people’s hands and experience healing.

2. This is very similar to our Catholic charismatic experience in the Church. Often, when someone is sick, we would “pray over” the person by either putting hands directly on the person or over the person, which we call “laying on of hands” (a biblical term). And praying to God the Holy Spirit, very often healing is imparted along with other spiritual gifts. And yes, many people also claimed to have experienced heat coming through their bodies.

3. While I don’t understand “longevitology” and won’t pretend to be qualified to pass judgement of it, I do understand the Catholic practice of laying on of hands very well, since I use it frequently and can testify to many healing. The difference for me is that for the latter, I know I’m not using my power, but the power of God. When I pray over someone, I don’t pray merely for healing, but for God to do whatever He wants, which often brings unexpected, better results than I could ever imagine. I have seen bodies healed, worries scattered, troubled souls strengthened, confusions clarified, and conversions taken place. God is amazing!

So for me, the question is not if longevitology is okay for Catholic to practice. We already got something far better. Nay, we got someone far better. Rather than for Catholics to discover something we still don’t quite understand, why not start exploring the charismatic dimension of our faith, which as Popes St. John Paul II, Benedict VI as well as Francis all affirmed is an integral part of the Catholic belief?