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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Are Miracles for Real?


I’m not trying to convert my son, nor I hope that his new girlfriend will be able to that any time soon. I just  hope he will understand that the professional atheists he admires so much are far from being always right. 
For example, the British journalist Christopher Hitchens (who died last year, may he rest in peace) reported
in "God Is Not Great" that the Vatican scandalously claims phony miracles pursuing the proclamation of new saints. 
Hitchens writes that he was invited by the Vatican to testify as a critic at a hearing on the beatification of Mother Teresa. He suggests that, although the priests seemed to ask for his opinion in good faith, the process was a mere farce, for Mother Teresa was beatified in spite of his negative testimony. In his mind, the Vatican should have listened to him only, overlooking the rest of Mother Teresa exceptional life. Poor lad, those priests didn’t take him seriously! But how could they when even I, a nobody in religious matters,
can easily unveil his partiality?

Miracles don’t have to subvert the laws of nature. Something that might look as a fortunate coincidence to an atheist may very well be a God willed event, and that was the case in which Hitchens was involved. But of course, the Vatican wouldn’t consider such an event as proof of holiness.  The Church is very cautious in accepting miracles as truthful. In The Book of Miracles,  Kenneth Woodward testifies that for decades he personally observed the Vatican’s canonization process for various causes of saints. Whoever thinks that the Vatican looks for chances to impose holy figures on the public is making a wrong assumption. 

Since the twelfth century, the Church gradually developed a legal process of investigation to avoid that the
cult of saints would obliterate the worship of God and Jesus. Miracles worked during the lifetime of the candidate do not constitute a reason for sainthood. Catholics, in fact, believe that the devil can work miracles too, so what matters is if the life of the candidate was a pious life.
Once the Vatican has collected enough proof that he or she led a holy existence, posthumous miracles are taken into serious consideration, for the holy person is supposed to be in heaven with God in order to intercede for people on earth. Tools of modern science and medical technology are employed and a dossier is prepared by Vatican officials, which is reviewed by sixty medical consultants. Cancers with high rates of remission are excluded and the healing of the disease must be instantaneous.

Of course all the above doesn't prove that miracles are operated by God, but it does indicate, in my opinion, that there is communication between the living and the dead. Psychosomatic diseases show that there is a definite connection between body and mind, where the mind can cause the disease. Nevertheless, I don't believe that terminally ill people could think themselves back to health, except if they had spiritual power of their own, which can't be the case for every healing allegedly performed by saints. Modern scientific studies have shown that we actually have the ability to affect the external world and our physical self through the power of our emotions, but to what extent? Could we cause the disappearance of a tumor overnight, if
we truly believe that it’s possible? I don‘t think so.  The saint is the one who was known for  possessing healing power in life, so he or she is probably the one who works the miracle when called for by the sick person. The latter, however, must have total faith in him. 

Is the saint pleading with God on behalf of the ill person or is he operating on his own? To answer this
question I have to put my faith in Jesus. He said that we have a Father in heaven who loves us all, and I believe him.