Saturday, December 1, 2007

Miracles Part 2

One of the things that got me thinking about the role of the miraculous is pondering the role it plays in the Catholic Faith. I think a lot of people who are not Catholic think that Catholics are superstitious when it comes to these things. But it's hard to deny that a true miracle has taken place.

When a miracle is reported, the Catholic Church takes great pains to ensure it is authentic. They are much harder on themselves than any critic could be. Once verified, the Church allows the miracle to be noted for the increase of the faith of its people and a witness of the working of our Lord in the world.

Two particular types of miracles have caught my attention of late. The first is that there are a number of saints whose bodies lie incorrupt. Among them are St. Clare of Assisi, St. Louise de Marillac, St. Bernadette, St. Vincent de Paul, St. Catherine Laboure, and St. John Vianney. The Church does not believe this is any indication that they were more godly or more favored than other saints. But it does regard it as a work of God's grace.

The second miracle I have been thinking about is the stigmata (the physical wounds of Christ) which were given to St. Francis of Assisi and St. Padre Pio. This is obviously a rare occurence. But it still is some indication of the work of God's grace.

What do these things mean? I'm not sure anyone really knows. But at a minimum they show how powerfully the Holy Spirit has worked, and continues to work, through these saints. By extension, it naturally follows that if they were so favored by the Lord, then there is nothing about their lives or teaching that could be of great objection.

As I mentioned in my previous post, miracles were one of the ways that God gave testimony to His Son. Everything about the major events of His life and ministry were characterized by the miraculous. In the same way, I believe the Lord chooses to allow the miraculous to bear witness to His Bride, the Church. By these things, we are led to know the truth and find salvation.

Now I know that some will object that even the devil can counterfeit the miraculous. This is true. But the fruit of those "miracles" is to glorify evil, leading to death and destruction. This is not so of the Church. The individuals involved were known for their godliness. Many were led to faith in Christ through them, and continue to be so as these testimonies are circulated.

Our Lord, when accused of performing the miraculous through the power of the devil, replied that a house divided against itself will fall. Surely, we cannot believe the devil is behind these miracles, or many others like them. The fruit of them is godliness. The devil wants nothing to do with that.

Miracles alone cannot prove anything. But in combination with the Word of God, and the fruit of the Holy Spirit, they do verify that God is still working through His Church. While we are not called to seek after miracles, we should ponder them when they occur and listen for what the Spirit is saying to the Church.

1 comment:

Joni said...

Here's another thought on that line: How is it that most Christians find it easy to believe that Enoch was taken into God's presence without dying, and that Elijah was taken up to heaven in the chariot of fire/whirlwind, yet they cannot believe that Mary could have been assumed bodily into heaven?

Or, on the other hand, how is it that Christians can believe in Christ's miracles and modern miracles, yet think that the miracles of the OT are just stories?

Or that miracles stopped when the Bible was completed (the canon)?

Pondering these things today...