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Catholic Activity: Attitudes toward Miracles


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Very often the Breviary relates miracles wrought by the saints. How should we evaluate these accounts? Are we bound to believe them? May we regard them as fictitious? The first point in this regard is that miracles not contained in sacred Scripture do not belong to the deposit of Catholic faith. Accordingly we are under no obligation to believe them. Such miracles must stand the test of credibility. If founded upon sufficient evidence we accept them. If not, we withhold our consent. It is easy to see that in the Breviary narratives of the lives of the saints many unhistorical details are included; it may well be that these details were never intended to be taken as historical data but as imaginative embellishment to foster piety.

The fact that miracles have happened in the Church and will continue to happen comes as the joyous conclusion to today's Gospel: "And these signs shall attend those who believe: in My name they shall cast out devils. . . ." Our Savior expressly says that the power to work miracles will always remain with the Church in witness to the truth she professes. Therefore we ought not be adamant in unbelief. But why are miracles seemingly so infrequent? In the early Church they occurred quite regularly. This question is answered in today's Office. Miracles were a necessity to the infant Church. To increase the number of the faithful, the new religion required divine confirmation repeatedly. Something similar is done in the natural order. When we plant young trees, we water them until they become firmly rooted. But then we stop. Miracles, therefore, take place more seldom now because the ordinary ways of grace prove sufficient.

However, let us not forget that miracles of grace still occur, miracles that are wrought in the depths of the soul. Of such miracles of grace every pastor is aware, also every Christian. Here on a loftier plane take place all the wonders of which Christ speaks; devils are driven out, i.e., sins and passions are overcome; men speak in a new tongue, i.e., the language of love and prayer; sicknesses are healed, i.e., spiritual ills of every type. Today's Communion teaches us that these spiritual miracles are wrought by the Eucharist. Believe firmly in the Church's power to perform miracles!

Activity Source: Church's Year of Grace, Volumes 1-5 by Dr. Pius Parsch, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1964

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