MIRACLES

NB: I did not write this piece. It is from a polemical blog I ran last year that hosted debates between Lutherans and Roman Catholics. It obviously does not reflect my thinking. See comments. — admin.

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In this post I’d like to raise the question of miracles as it might inform Lutheran/Catholic dialogue.

In the Creed of Constantinople, Catholics and Lutherans both profess the Church to be “holy” and “apostolic,” attributes which God systemically underscores by the witness of signs and wonders.  For though Faith is a gift of God, it is seldom a bolt from the blue; a soul shown cogent demonstration is the tilth where it takes root.

The First Vatican Council summarized this well:

…in order that the submission of our faith should be in accordance with reason, it was God’s will that there should be linked to the internal assistance of the Holy Spirit external indications of his revelation, that is to say divine acts, and first and foremost miracles and prophecies, which clearly demonstrating as they do the omnipotence and infinite knowledge of God, are the most certain signs of revelation and are suited to the understanding of all. (Session III., iii., 4)

The doctrine is that of Holy Scripture.  In His Farewell Discourse, Our Lord enjoined,  “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves” (14:11).  He had said as much to the unbelieving Jews during Hannukah (10: 38), just after bidding them, “if I do not the works of My Father, do not believe Me.”  That is: Don’t believe Me if I can’t back it up by works, by erga, by dynameis, by semeia.  His disciples believed on Him when, at His Mother’s behest, He wrought His first miracle, transubstantiating water into wine (2: 11), and what restored that faith once lost was evidence of the Resurrection.  The entire Gospel of John bears re-reading in this regard: it is a Gospel of Crisis, of judgment, of evidence, of verdict.

Not only Our Lord Himself, but the heralds of His kerygma could – and in some sense needed to – call upon the testimony of miracles before they claimed their hearers’ trust.  They had their first trial of this in the Mission first of the 12 and then the 72, who worked wonders, and found the demons subject to them (Luke 10).   Again, during the Farewell Discourse, having laid claim to their belief on the ground of His miracles (14:12), Our Lord promised, “Amen, Amen, I say to thee, he who believes in Me will do the works that I do; and greater works than these shall he do, for I am ascending to the Father.”  Astonishing!  The faithful of His Church would accomplish greater works than His Who cured the sick and raised the dead?  But this was the promise of Christ, Who, before His Ascension, promised that wondrous signs would attend those believing on and heralding His Name (Mark 16: 17).  And “[t]hen the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it” (16: 20).

To the Corinthians, the Apostle wrote:

I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. (I Cor. 2: 3-5).

Faith, then, rests on the power of God, the “demonstration of the Spirit,” on miracles and their much-meaning.  It was thus for the faith of those that saw Our Lord, and thus for those who believed His messengers.  It can be no different for His ambassadors today.

Then where are the miracles?

Here are some classes of miracles to be found in the post-Apostolic ages.

1.)     Healings and Resurrections

 St. Peter spoke of “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him” (Acts 10: 38).  Christ’s power to heal provided the Jews of 1C Palestine a powerful basis for belief.  The Gospels brim with accounts of His healings, and narrate three resurrections He performed. Christ said His followers would work greater works than His.  Who works them?

 That which follows samples haphazardly, almost randomly, even, a body of evidence so vast as to defy inventory.

A common gift of great saints is the ability to heal men of their naturally incurable infirmities.  St. Padre Pio (+1968) healed a blind man in such a way that he could see despite the fact that the physical structure of his eye still appeared non-functional by all the best lights of the ophthalmologists studying the case. The shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes has been the site of thousands upon thousands of well-documented healings.

Christ raised 3 men from the dead.  “And greater works than these shall you do…”  When He sent out the 72, He commanded them to heal the sick and “raise the dead” (Luke 10).  There are at least 400 documented cases of Catholic saints bringing the dead to life.  St. Vincent Ferrer (+1419) alone performed, by conservative estimates, 28 miracles of resurrection.

2.)     Prophecy

Old Testament prophecy was a door to faith for countless Jews evangelized by the primitive Church.  The prophetic charism continued in the Church of the Apostolic Age and beyond.  One could, at random, cite St. Benedict’s prophecy about the destruction of Monte Cassino by the barbarians.

In 1612 in Quito Ecuador, Our Lady of Good Success revealed to the Conceptionist Abbess Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres the international hegemony which Masonic sects would achieve in the 20C – and this, more than a century before Freemasonry began to exist!  The prophecies of Our Lady of Good Success, relating either to the destiny of Mother Mariana’s convent, to events in Ecuador’s future, or to the 20C –for the sins of which Mother Mariana was especially called to be a victim soul – haunt us with the precision of their fulfillment.

In 1917, as part of her “2nd Secret,” Our Lady of Fatima prophesied a speedy end to WWI, the outbreak of a worse war in the pontificate of “Pius XI” (verified if you count WWII beginning with the Anschluss), the appearance of “an unknown light” foretokening this war (verified on Jan. 24, 1938 in a phenomenon very inaccurately classed as an Aurora Borealis), and the world-wide spread of “Russia’s errors” (it was the first nation to attempt Communism’s implementation, and the first to legalize full-term abortion).

3.)     Exorcism and Sacramentals

While those in a state of sin may cast out demons (Matt. 25), the power to exorcise generally betokens divine approbation.  “If I cast out demons by Beelzebub, than by whom do your sons cast them out?  Then they shall be your judges.”  “A house divided cannot stand.” (Matth. 12). The Holy Name of Jesus has power in the mouth of even Jews and heretics, but the fate of the 7 sons of Sceva show how dangerous this action can be when undertaken by the unauthorized (Acts 19: 14).  That certain exorcisms presuppose authentic ascesis is made clear by Christ’s lamentation over the little faith of the epileptic’s would-be exorcists, and His subsequent statement that “this kind is only driven out by prayer and fasting” (Mark 9: 29).

The superiority of Catholic over heretical exorcism has been proven time and again.  The high drama of the exorcism of Nicola Aubrey (1565-6) gives instance of this.  I have a friend, now Catholic, one-time Confessional Lutheran, whose LCMS pastor candidly admitted that in cases of severe diabolical oppression which surfaced in his flock and were past his power to cure, he had to resort to Catholic exorcists.  The life of St. Antony of the desert illustrates the power of such Catholic saints over the prince of this world, and to the importance they attached to communion with the Catholic hierarchy.

While heretics can at times exorcise demons and free from satanic oppression, it is a testimony to the authenticity of the Catholic Church that her “sacramentals” have such efficacy in combatting demons, as affirmed by a unanimity of veteran exorcists.  Such sacramentals include Holy Water, candles, palm branches, and medals of St. Benedict, blessed by Catholic priests.

4.)     Clairvoyance

The reading of hearts is another phenomenon often encountered in the lives of Catholic saints.  St. Joseph of Cupertino, for example, could literally smell whether a man were pure or impure.  St. Padre Pio and St. John Marie Vianney, saints of the confessional, read the hearts of their penitents on a regular basis, often recalling specific sins and their circumstances, which their penitents had forgotten or held back through shame.

5.)     Glossalalia

The gift of speaking in tongues we first encounter at Pentecost, and it was ubiquitous in the Apostolic Age.  No longer as common now as then, ecclesiastical history nevertheless records instances of its recurrence.  St. Vincent Ferrer would enter assemblies of Jews and Arabs, preach in his native Valencian dialect, and be understood by his hearers in their own tongues.  St. Francis Xavier, the Apostle to the Far East, was often granted the grace of being understood by his hearers according to their several dialects.  St. Theresa Neuman (+1962), a relatively uneducated peasant-born nun, while mystically reliving the Passion of Our Lord in a state of ecstasy as she would on Fridays, could speak fluent Aramaic, Hebrew and Greek, as judged by experts in those languages.

6.)     Incorruption

Our Lord’s incorruption in the tomb has found its continuation in many of His saints.  The degree of incorruption obtaining for these unembalmed saints varies.  There are at least 250 saints persisting in a state of remarkable incorruption.  Many saints, such as St. Silvan (4C), St. John Marie Vianney, St. Bernadette, St. Catherine Laboure, St. Vincent de Paul and St. John Bosco, to name a few, have undergone virtually no corruption whatever.  Many saints, once dead, give off the “odor of sanctity,” a wonderfully sweet smell, even despite their having passed to glory centuries before.

7.)     Relics & Wonder-working Images

Miracles too many to count have been worked in the presence of holy relics and images.  One famous relic is the blood of Januarius, an early 4C martyr, which every year on his feast day liquefies when brought into the presence of his severed head.  To this day, the bones of St. Nicholas secrete a stream of miraculous oil.

Wonderworking images, especially of the Blessed Virgin, are beyond counting.  Many such images will weep tears of water or of blood, such as the statue of Our Lady of Akita, Japan, which in the 1970s wept thus a documented total of 101 times.  One could also instance the statue of Our Lady of Fatima which shed tears while on procession through the streets of New Orleans the year before Hurricane Katrina.

Innumerable too are the accounts of miracles worked by so-called “Miraculous Medals” of the Immaculate Conception.

The famous Tilma of Our Lady of Guadalupe is made of agave cactus fiber that normally decomposes within a couple decades; nevertheless, the Tilma has persisted intact from 1531 till now.  In 1921 a time bomb was placed in a flower vase on the high altar of the Guadalupe basilica by Freemasons.  It went off during High Mass.  It burst every stain glass window in the basilica, twisted the altar-crucifix grotesquely, but, miraculously, hurt no one, and left not a scratch on the Tilma.

8.)     Ectsasy

 An oft-encountered phenomenon in the life of certain saints is the suspension of ordinary sense-perception while engaged in supernatural action.  St. Philip Neri took hours to say his private Mass because he would almost invariably fall into ecstasy.

As for a recent (and, for you Hillsdalians, somewhat local) saint, a story of Ven. Solanus Casey of Detroit: When he was a young novice, Fr. Benedict Groeschel, the still-living founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, found himself unable to sleep, so he went to the oratory to pray. Once there, turned on the light.  There he saw, absolutely oblivious and uncannily unreactant to his presence or to the turned-on light, Solanus Casey absorbed wholly in prayer, kneeling with arms spread out in the shape of the cross.  This phenomenon is of frequent occurrence in the lives of many saints, who in the liberty of their spirit have broken the spell of earth, with all its cares and vanities. 

9.)     Levitation

While demons can create a preternatural counterfeit of this supernatural gift, levitation presents a beautiful image of the sanctity that detaches souls from the earth.  St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila, rapt in spiritual colloquy, were known to levitate together.  St. Joseph of Cupertino (+1663) habitually levitated while saying Holy Mass.

10.) Bilocation

There are many accounts of saints being in two or more places simultaneously so as to perform good works.  There are many such accounts of St. Padre Pio.  Spanish missionaries in present-day NM, AZ and western Texas were surprised in the early 17C to find the natives already catechized, though no missionaries had been sent there yet.  They all gave accounts of how a beautiful lady in blue habit and black veil had flown to them through the air to teach them the Holy Faith and to send for priests.  It was only under holy obedience that the humility of Ven. Mary of Agreda, a Conceptionist Abbess in NW Spain, confessed to having bilocated about 500 times to teach these Indians the True Faith.

11.) Stigmata

There have been 62 saints or beati that have borne, at some time, and in some form or other, the marks and pains of Our Lord’s holy wounds.  St. Francis of Assisi was the first to bear the stigmata, which one of the Seraphim impressed upon him about 2 years before his death.  St. Padre Pio is the only priest ever known to receive the stigmata, which bled constantly, put forth a sweet aroma, and persisted for exactly 50 years, closing only days before his death.

12.) Mystic Fasts

 Some saints have survived without food or water for miraculous lengths of time.  Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich (+1824) lived the last 12 years of her life unable to take any food except Holy Communion.  From 1922 to 1962 St. Theresa Neuman ate nothing at all save one small consecrated Host per day.  From 1926 till her death she drank nothing.

13.) Eucharistic Miracles

There have been dozens of authenticated Eucharistic miracles where the Precious Body and Blood actually manifest the accidents of human flesh and blood.  Often these miracles occur for priests suffering from doubts about the truth of transubstantiation.  In all of them, we find the blood type to be AB.  One of the most famous such miracles is that of Lanciano, which occurred in the 8C and persists to this day.  The Flesh, we have learned, is myocardial (that of the muscular tissue of the heart-wall); it contains arterioles, veins, and nerve fibers.  What would be the implication of these miracles vis-à-vis Luther’s doctrine of consubstantiation?

14.) Apparitions

 Apparitions of Our Lord, Our Lady, and the Saints, constitute a supernatural phenomenon recorded in the Apostolic Age and perduring as a recurrent fact for the life of the Church even to this day in the unfolding of her prophetic mission.

Especially in the last half-millenium there have been a number of very important approved Marian apparitions: Our Lady of Guadalupe (1531), of Good Success (1610), of Lavang (Vietnam, 1798), of La Sallette (1846), of Lourdes (1858), of Dong-Lu, (China,1900 and in 1994), of Fatima (1917), and of Akita, (Japan, 1970s), to name a few.

The apparitions near Fatima, Portugal, are of all the above-mentioned, arguably the most prophetically significant, not least because Fatima’s October 13, 1917 so-called “Miracle of the Sun,” seen by an estimated 70-100,000 witnesses, counts for the most public miracle in history.  Rather uniquely in the annals of Catholic miracula, the exact time and place of this prodigy were foretold 6 months in advance.  The miracle converted many agnostics and atheists gathered there to mock the simple faith of the peasants, and the local anti-Catholic newspaper was compelled to give an accurate description of the stunning phenomenon.  The prophetic message of Fatima concerns the geopolitical situation of the 20C and beyond.  It foretells the conversion of Russia to the Catholic Faith once the Pope and his bishops have together consecrated that nation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. And too, it betides international disaster should this solemn consecration be too much delayed.

15.) Conversion  

 The Spirit of Truth, Who guides the Church into all truth that she might become herself the “pillar and ground of truth,” (I Tim. 3: 15), worked a signal miracle of conversion when, on Pentecost, He came upon the Apostles that they should tell God’s marvels,  preach, and baptize 3000 Jews in but one day.   And since that time, the Spirit of Truth has been working miracles of conversion through His saints, throughout the world.

Limiting ourselves to 2nd Millenium mass conversions, we might consider St. Vincent Ferrer, who, by the most conservative reckoning, converted 8,000 Muslims and 25,000 Jews in the diocese of Valencia alone.  Or of St. Francis Xavier, who, throughout India, Indochina and Japan converted about 50,000 souls, if not many, many more.

Perhaps the most signal miracle of conversion in all history occurred in the 16C for the nativs of Mesoamerica.  In 1531, after Cortez’s conquest and a decade of fruitless evangelism thwarted by the scandal and oppression of the Spanish colonials, Our Lady appeared to an Aztec neophyte on Tepeyac Hill, Mexico City, and left to him her image.  Fraught as it was with a symbolism so delicately eloquent to Native eyes and hearts, the image worked wonders wherever it was brought.  A famine for hearing the word of the Lord breaks out, and a thirst for the waters of Baptism.  In 9 years, 9 million conversions, 9 million baptisms.  Do the math. That’s a Pentecost – every day – for 9 years straight!  This influx of New World converts more than made up for the combined defections of all the Lutherans, Anglicans and Calvinists of that troubled century.

*  *  *  *  *

I’ve put some smattering of data on the table.  Why?  Because we are discussing which of our religions speaks the truth and carries the stamp of God’s sanction, which we know from the Bible to be heralded by miracles.  Are Catholics an evil and adulterous generation, seeking a sign from Heaven like the Pharisees?  Indeed no.  We do not seek these things like the Jews sought bread after the 5000-feeding, or like the devil tempted Our Lord to cast Himself from the Temple’s peak for angels to catch.  We do not cramp God under our microscope to put Him to the test.  He gives Himself to us.  He did not give the Pharisees the sign from Heaven they asked; for He had given them signs enough already.  But in the 20C He gave to us unasked, out of the sheer infinitude of His Mercy, a sign from Heaven for 70,000 witnesses near Fatima Portugal, who saw the sun made soft to look on, and saw it then unravel its palette and fall from its place and dance and make as if to fall to earth.

There is a paradox to miracles.  They are not needed by the faithful; but it is to the faithful that they are most often given, when God sees fit to give them.  Christ “could not” work miracles in Nazareth because of the Nazarenes’ unbelief (Mark 6: 5)!  And yet He condescended to work many miracles for the ill-believing Galileans further north.  We must leave much to the mystery of God’s providence and predestination.  Miracles do not possess an infallible efficacy.  The Pharisees saw the resurrected Lazarus, and conspired to put him back with the dead again!  In the parable, Abraham speaks the broad truth about Dive’s kin and their ilk: “If they believe not Moses and the Prophets, neither will they believe if someone rises from the dead.”   The testimony of miracles will fail of its effect when hearts are closed and the soil poor.

Perhaps one might object that some of these miracle-types surveyed occur also in non-Catholic communities.  Catholics do not deny that heretics, especially if they be so only materially and not formally, may possess some of these charismata after some measure.  Protestants can cast out demons, and in some cases heal.  The presence of miraculous charismata outside the Church’s visible structure is more noticeable among the Eastern Separatists.  They too have their incorrupts and clairvoyants, and these gifts God gives in recognition of the measure of truth and sanctity their communion preserves.  But there is a significance to the relative amplitude of these gifts as found within the Catholic communion, and to the fact that many of these miracles, by their very circumstances, authenticate specifically and tendentially the Catholic system out of which they emerge.  Such are miracles worked and apparitions witnessed that overtly sanction uniquely Catholic doctrines, as when Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal and of Lourdes affirms the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, or Our Lady of Akita the doctrine of Our Lady as Co-Redemptrix, to mention only a few.

One could also moot the possibility of demonic provenience for all these miracles.  But that will not do. The devil can imitate true miracle only so far.  If Satan could do just as good and better than authentic miracles, what would be the point of miracles at all?  “But if by the finger of God I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God is upon you” (Luke 11: 20). The Pharoah’s sorcerers could match Moses’s serpent staff, but even then their serpents were eaten; and after the First Plague, their mimicry could not keep step with the power of God.  It will be a special trial to the faith of the elect when God allows the Antichrist unusual power to work counterfeit miracles.  But that is to come, and what I have laid out here is from of old.  The best Antichrist can do is make fire fall from heaven, but even this is trumped already by the miracle God worked at Fatima on October 13, 1917.

I thought fit to bring up miracles, because I judge that they strike more clearly the wits of folk like me who lack the theological prowess so many on this forum seem possessed of, folk like me for whom adiaphoric is a brand new word.  Amidst all you willing to weigh and wade through such a mass of systematic theology as we see here, there is a category of men Neanderthal as I, with whom the raw power of God unsheathed has more truck than howsoever erudite the Confessional Lutheran’s take on Pauline soteriology.  Even granting Luther’s break with Rome meant a restoration of some primitive, time-occulted truth, a break it certainly was, and a radical one at that: and I simply don’t know what to make of this bewildering readiness of 16C Europeans to go whole hog for another gospel apparently unbacked by the miraculous.

Am I missing something?  Apprise me, please.  Was there indeed some sort of unmistakable sanction accorded to Luther’s gospel in the form of miracles?  I have never heard of any such, but that does not mean there wasn’t.  But if indeed history recalls no such sanction, it seems a hard pill to swallow, making the litmus test for ecclesiastical allegiance – a thing that has its issue in eternal destinies – consist in a doctrine which a sound-byte St. Paul might sometimes seem to teach in the teeth of what a sound-byte St. James might elsewhere seem to teach… and this, when there is so much simpler a way to settle things.  I’m speaking of St. Elijah the Prophet and a waterlogged altar on Mt. Carmel.

So for now, all my money on Vatican I when it says:

To the Catholic Church alone belong all those things, so many and so marvelous, which have been divinely ordained to make for the manifest credibility of the Christian faith. (Session III., iii., 11)

And then I’ll say to this Catholic Church what Nicodemus said to her Head: “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God; for no one could do the signs you do unless God were with him.”

In the fear of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens?  You will go down to Hades!
         Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me. (Luke 10: 13- 16).

fatimacrusader1917

34 Comments

  1. I’m going to suggest an alternate title for this piece: “In demonstration of begging the question.”

    This is a wonderfully impassioned defense of Romanist folk piety. It is rhetorically brilliant. Its pathos tugs at my heart. I’m amazed at how many of my objections were anticipated and seemingly disarmed. I’m going to feel like kind of jerk zeroing in on the last bit where the author — whom I love as a brother, and wish I could see again in real life — strikes a hilariously humble knee (he’s better read in theology than anyone else on this blog that I know of, with the possible exception of joehesch, charlesmcclean, and aureliusaugustine) and begs off of having to do theology. But, really, I must. Here’s the selection:

    I thought fit to bring up miracles, because I judge that they strike more clearly the wits of folk like me who lack the theological prowess so many on this forum seem possessed of, folk like me for whom adiaphoric [sic] is a brand new word. Amidst all you willing to weigh and wade through such a mass of systematic theology as we see here, there is a category of men Neanderthal as I, with whom the raw power of God unsheathed has more truck than howsoever erudite the Confessional Lutheran’s take on Pauline soteriology. Even granting Luther’s break with Rome meant a restoration of some primitive, time-occulted truth, a break it certainly was, and a radical one at that: and I simply don’t know what to make of this bewildering readiness of 16C Europeans to go whole hog for another gospel apparently unbacked by the miraculous.

    “…such a mass of systematic theology…” Coming from the guy who says that Christ “transubstantiated water into wine” at Cana, this is rich. As far as I know, Christ “transaccidentalized” the water, too. We Neanderthals usually just say that he “turned water into wine.”

    “…Luther’s break with Rome…” I’ll have to ignore this for now, other than to say that Leo X excommunicated Martin Luther; Luther did not break with Rome. This excommunication was cute, and typical of Rome, but null and void. I know that it’s equally begging the question to say so, but I just want to point out that that is, in fact, what Raymond is doing by saying this. It’s not unfair to do this — we’ve all been doing it a lot. But this only raises a question; it does not answer one. This question needs its own post. It actually has its own post.

    “…primitive, time-occulted truth…” Well, if it’s true, let’s believe it. Is it true?

    “…go whole hog for another gospel…” Well, what is the Gospel?

    It’s tempting to go through this piece and highlight the various portions which make it thoroughly uncompelling, a complete red herring, and an exemplar of the dangerous perversion of Christianity which is Roman Catholicism. Really, though, the paragraph above is a fitting synecdoche of the entire piece, so a shorter treatment will suffice to undermine the weight of these many words, at least for the time being.

    The meticulous list Raymond so triumphantly sets forth is a sad distraction from the most basic question, mentioned above: what is the Gospel? What is the euangelion, and what makes it good news? What is the credendum, the thing-to-be-believed? Ray rhapsodizes about the masses who were “converted” by these “demonstrations of the Spirit’s power.” Converted to what? I have no doubt that they were converted to something, but I don’t believe it was Christianity. I suppose, though, that it’s not fair to give reasons for this belief on my part, as it would confuse Neanderthals. In any case, God have mercy on these “converts” and eventually bring them to the simple confession of the ancient faith. He alone knows their hearts. As far as the purveyors of some of these “miracles” go, I believe that there’s a millstone and a lake waiting for them.

    “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand” (St. Matthew 24:24, 25).

    We might also expect skeptics of such signs and wonders to be identified as “faithless” or “heretics,” as well. Well then, how would we figure out whether they are? You’d have to go back to that boring, unsensational old delimiter: the apostolic teaching. The deposit of the faith. At least that’s what a Lutheran would say. I’m learning, though, that at bottom, there’s not much separating the Romanist epistemology from that of the holy-rolling Evangelical. You need to have a conversion experience, something sensational that will compel you to make a decision for Rome and invite the pope into your heart. Why should we believe every theological phantasm that issues forth from the Roman see under the auspices of the “Development of Doctrine”? Because somebody somewhere conjured myocardial tissue on the altar. “Oh, wait! Capernaists, come back! Yes, that was what He meant!” No, I think not. I don’t know whether such a thing happened. (NB: though it is immaterial to my critique, it should be noted that Raymond cites no sources whatsoever, Imprimatur or other.) I do know that if it were to happen, it would be an abomination. Rome can keep that badge.

    The question that is being avoided here, again, is this: what is the essential content of the faith once passed down to the saints? We just can’t be sure. What St. Paul told the Phillipian jailor must no longer be true, as the doctrine of the Church has “developed” since then.

    The gist of Ray’s presentation is “don’t look at the man behind the curtain.” I am happy and relieved that Lutherans have not been cursed with such Promethean urges to woo and dazzle people into their flock. As for me and my house, we shall wait in the crevice with Elijah until the hurricane, the earthquake, and the fire have passed by. Lord have mercy.

    • Lutherans don’t have miracles?

      You’re putting the cart before the horse, Ray.

      I’ll also add that when He instituted the Eucharist, Christ said of the Bread, “This is my Body.” Thus every host, and every separated particle of every host, is Christ’s Body. Not a piece of Christ’s Body, but His whole, crucified, glorified Body. A hunk of “myocardial tissue.” “AB type blood.” What baseness. This is the foulest Capernaism and an abomination of monstrous proportion.

        • Oh, there are tons of them. Especially in Africa, where people seem to be more vulnerable to diabolical oppression. I do not care to go blow for blow with your list of “miracles,” many of which are highly specious. The miracles of the conscience freed from the accusation of the Evil One, of the New Birth of Baptism, and of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist are sufficient for the faithful. Christ gives others where he will. This entire post is a blight on the Catholic argument.

          “…there is a significance to the relative amplitude of these gifts as found within the Catholic communion, and to the fact that many of these miracles, by their very circumstances, authenticate specifically and tendentially the Catholic system out of which they emerge.”

          Just as a point of fact, you have not demonstrated a greater relative amplitude of miracles among the RC communion. Nor can you. I do not need to prove the negative.

          But if we were to leave that non-trivial fact aside, methinks there is a far greater significance to all of this: if, as the Lutherans contend, the Roman papacy is an Anti-Christ — indeed, among the most monstrous that the Church and the World have yet beheld — it makes loads of sense for that portion of the Church which is still under its thrall to evince the “signs and wonders” such as you list “in order to deceive if possible, even the elect.”

          Are these compelling reasons to become a Hindu?

  2. Did you read the Hindu article? All those “miracles” fall clearly within the scope of the merely preternatural, the scope of what demons are capable of performing by their own natural powers, so the answer to your question is no.

    if, as the Lutherans contend, the Roman papacy is an Anti-Christ — indeed, among the most monstrous that the Church and the World have yet beheld — it makes loads of sense for that portion of the Church which is still under its thrall to evince the “signs and wonders” such as you list “in order to deceive if possible, even the elect.”

    Trent, the vast majority of all documented miracles worked by Christians over the past 2 Millenia have been worked by or for Catholics. So it’s the case that the vast share of miraculous acts for the past 2 millenia have been performed under the aegis of the Antichrist? If we are allowed to dismiss juggernautical onslaughts of miracula out of hand, then maybe Chorazin and Bethsaida weren’t so culpable after all…

    Demons cannot create. Only God can. Restoring sight to the blind is an act of creation. Many Catholic saints have restored sight to the blind. Have Lutherans? And even if any have, which I have yet to learn, I already admitted in my post that theoretically they could, because God occasionally allows material heretics the power of healing in confirmation of whatever truth their sects retain.

    Ditto on exorcisms in Africa. I’ve already admitted that Protestants can “exorcize”, that is, drive out demons by the Holy Name. Even Jews can do that. But the fact that demons are more powerfully and lastingly exorcized by Catholics using the rites and sacramentals of the Church testifies to the truth of the Faith in a way that the power of the Name of Jesus in the mouth of a heretic does not for that heretic’s own misbelief. So I still need to see a passable body of Lutheran miracles that vindicate Lutheranism as such, in the way meaningfully similar to that by which so many Catholic miracles vindicate the Church.

    Please reread the first part of my post where I underscore the importance Our Lord and His Apostles attached to the miraculous as authenticating Divine Mission. Our Lord and the Apostles clearly thought that miracles – when many, clearly supernatural, and fraught with meaning – wield decisive evidentiary power. I’m sure you have a reason for your difference of opinion, it’s just that I haven’t heard it yet.

    Why, this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from; yet He has opened my eyes! Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him. Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind. If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing. (St. John 9: 30-33)

    But maybe the Antichrist, the Man of Sin, isn’t a sinner…?

    • “[T]he vast majority of all documented miracles worked by Christians over the past 2 Millenia have been worked by or for Catholics.”

      Pure assertion.

      “So it’s the case that the vast share of miraculous acts for the past 2 millenia have been performed under the aegis of the Antichrist?”

      Well, Ray, the whole question here is “how can we determine if the papacy is Antichrist?” since, as Our Lord says, “false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand” (St. Matthew 24:24, 25). Yes, signs and wonders do have decisive evidentiary power. But they do not confirm the truth of doctrine, and may, in fact, compel belief in falsehood.

      “I’m sure you have a reason for your difference of opinion, it’s just that I haven’t heard it yet.” My reason: the Roman Church has perverted the Catholic tradition of the Church, and by that I mean that it has for some time failed to teach that man is saved by God’s mercy alone. These sundry instances of “miracles” (which you do not corroborate, but simply state are “documented” — and by no less an authority than the miracle-working party), which look impressive when compiled in thick concentration by a devotee of the Romanist doctrine, pale in comparison to the words of Our Lord in the same Gospel of St. John which you so heavily and selectively cite: “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (St. John iii, 14-16). This Rome cannot swallow and will not preach without a caveat.

  3. Yes, signs and wonders do have decisive evidentiary power. But they do not confirm the truth of doctrine, and may, in fact, compel belief in falsehood.

    In the case of many miracles in Gospels and Acts, what else are they evincing? What is their “evidentiary power” *for*? Christ gave His 12, His 72 and His Apostolic Church after them the power to work miracles precisely because that power authenticates their mission. Yea or nay? We’re not going to get anywhere until I know if you think that’s true or not.

    And if you answer that, then tell me:

    Can Antichrist give sight to the blind and raise the dead?

    • Yea.

      I don’t know, Raymond, and neither do you. Perhaps Antichrist can. I will not attempt to deny the specific instances of miracles which you bring up. Perhaps some of them are true. Perhaps some of them are false. I do think that a lot of them are, in fact, false. The official position of the Roman Church on the so-called “Miracle of the Sun,” for instance, is that it is merely “worthy of belief.” Seems pretty tepid. As does the response of some other Roman Catholics. As far as I’m concerned, the Emperor is Naked in this fable, and even the Roman church won’t condemn my unbelief. Pope Emeritus Benedict, writing as Cardinal Ratzinger, apparently had very underwhelming things to say about the significance of the event, summarized briefly as, “No prophecy here, folks.” Have you ever stared at the sun for an extended period of time, Raymond? I have. Let me tell you what happens: everything looks weird, colors are out of wack, you experience vertigo, and you can even hallucinate. So I’m not at all surprised when a bunch of people who are all as devoted as the day is long to the cult of Mary all, at the same time and on cue, stare at the sun, and then come up with wildly differing accounts of what happened, all of which are quite what you’d expect.

      Or maybe it was a miracle. Remind me how that would prove, however tendentially, the Roman system from which this happening emerged? At this point I’d circle back to my argument about the papacy being Antichrist, for reasons which cannot readily be disarmed by reference to signs and wonders.

      Finally, if the same charismatic stamp of apostolic authority is upon every Roman cardinal, bishop, and priest, then why are they doing anything other than going around, raising the dead in droves, curing blindness, and levitating?? Bilocate on over here, someone! Seems like it would do wonders for the credibility of Rome. I’ll grant what you said about such signs being given to the faithful more often than not: well, let’s do that, too. I know many a dilapidated Roman Catholic parish that could use the boost.

      As an aside, you should be the one promoting this stuff, because sites like this one are not helping your case.

  4. Yea.

    Thank you. Now, would you tell me how? I want to know what you think miracles prove and how they do so.

    Or maybe it was a miracle. Remind me how that would prove, however tendentially, the Roman system from which this happening emerged?

    Same way the fire on Mount Carmel proved Yahwism.

    • Gosh, it’s like I’ve forgotten I have a day-job…

      Christ gave His 12, His 72 and His Apostolic Church after them the power to work miracles precisely because that power authenticates their mission.

      See, I don’t have any problem with the thesis (largely backed by more and more credible witnesses) that the working of miracles is not the bene esse of the Church’s work, and, moreover, that the power and authority given by Christ to the 12 and the 72 is precisely that: a power given to them. For example, when a Lutheran reads Christ’s words to Peter, “You’re the Rock, and I’m going to build my Church on you” (T.D. Demarest Dynamic Equivalent Translation), said Lutheran does not assume that Christ’s words apply to everyone Peter consecrates as bishop. Which is a good thing, too, since you’d have two popes right away — Linus and Clement — and you’d also have the exact same Petrine succession in the see of Antioch as you have in the see of Rome. No, his words apply to Peter, the prince and chief of the apostles. (I understand that this example opens up a large can of very wiggly worms, but please, indulge me for now by not addressing it in this post…? You can paste my comment into another thread if you think it might serve as the spark to that whole debate.) Similarly, we do not believe that the apostolic office continues after the apostles died. Their authority was unique, as well as the power which came with that authority, such as it was: raising the dead, handling snakes, drinking poison, giving sight to the blind, restoring the lame, etc. Now, can God still work such miracles? Well, yes. I believe that he still does. But they’re no longer de rigueur for the Church — and you can’t argue with that, really, Raymond, because they’re certainly not de rigueur in the Roman communion, either. They’re not de rigueur because the apostles aren’t around. I go to a Roman Catholic mass every Sunday, and the only thing miraculous (besides the Blessed Sacrament) is how everyone puts up with the bad preaching. And that’s not an ad hom — I’m just voicing agreement with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who has suggested that one of the evidences for the divine sanction of the Roman Church is that it still endures in spite of the horrendous preaching. (In case you cannot tell, I rather like Benedict XVI — good churchman, pretty unpretentious; wonderfully pastoral. Also, a good sense of humor.) And do know who claims to have an even greater frequency and amplitude of “documented” miracles than Rome? Pentecostal modalist heretics who “baptize” in the name of Jesus, i.e., eschew the Trinitarian formula. They’re pretty well-documented. What do these miracula “tendentially” prove? Why, the Pentecostal system from which they emerge! Which is to say, “nothing.”

      In all this we get rather far afield, Raymond. The fact is that you believe in pretty much every (?) miracle that comes down the Roman pike, pretty unquestioningly. I don’t, and neither do a great many Roman Catholics. Their consciences are not even bound to. So you can shout “Rome has all the miracles; where are the Lutherans’ miracles?” until you’re blue in the face. But you’re giving your anemic argument a blood-transfusion out of its own shaky legs.

  5. In all this we get rather far afield, Raymond.

    Not my fault, Trent. Please answer the question from my last comment.

    • Mea culpa. Thought you could parse it:

      The apostles’ miracles proved that they were indeed eyewitnesses to Christ and His resurrection, and were commissioned by Him directly and given power from on high to perform signs and wonders which confirmed their testimony as credible. That sects stray from this testimony (a measurable deviation) yet retain the signs is old hat. That the Roman sect does this in an especially self-important way and then creates tautologies in support of its self-originating pronouncements is also old hat — the oldest of old hats, actually.

      To all of this the Lutheran says the following:

      Since Rome is now seemingly unable to proclaim the testimony of the apostles and instead promulgates many teachings which obscure and pervert said testimony — namely the testimony of forgiveness of sins by grace through faith alone, also known as “the Gospel” — and since the papacy’s teachings take away glory from Christ and give it to men who happen to live in the old metropole of a corrupt empire, the fact that some Romanists can conjure with the best of them does nothing to shore up or “tendentially” prove the Romanist system, but only suggests that insofar as it enlists the power of such “miracles” to shore up its aberrant teachings, Rome is in the latter and more nefarious category of wonderworker, that of Antichrist. The Papal Church is still to be judged by its doctrine, not by the specious miracles that its own bishops will not bind the consciences of its faithful to believe.

  6. The apostles’ miracles proved that they were indeed eyewitnesses to Christ and His resurrection, and were commissioned by Him directly and given power from on high to perform signs and wonders which confirmed their testimony as credible

    How come miracles get to prove the Apostles eyewitnesses to Christ’s Resurrection, and nothing else? In fact, how do they prove this?

    • I don’t know, Raymond. Maybe they don’t prove this. And…? What do they prove?

      • I don’t know, Raymond. Maybe they don’t prove this. And…? What do they prove?

        Dear God, man! Read the Gospels!

        • Raymond, what you lack in substantive argumentation you more than make up for in circular reasoning. I do read the Gospels. The greatest work performed therein is the forgiveness of sins. “Then Jesus said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, ‘Who is this who even forgives sins?’ Then He said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you. Go in peace'” (St. Luke vii, 48-50). This is the work we are supposed to believe in.

          “Dear God, man! Read the Gospels!” See, I’d love to, but I can make neither heads nor tails out them because the evangelists’ words are completely opaque to my reason. I need an infallible interpreter who will tell me what they mean. But then I’ll need another infallible interpreter to interpret him…

      • I do read the Gospels.

        Thanks be to God. He has the words of eternal life.

        But tell me:

        Why did Christ and His Apostles work so many miracles? Did these miracles definitively prove the fact of their Divine Mission?

        If not, then where do you get off holding a opinion on this that seems to differ from that of Jesus Christ?

        If so, how come miracles of resurrection prove the Divinity of Jesus and the Mission of the Apostles without proving also the Mission of the Catholic Church?

        You have not yet begun to answer this last question, and this is far from its first time being asked.

        • They do prove the mission of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is not identical with the Church of Rome. Fin. Different debate. You have not yet begun to answer why the Eucharistic abominations which conflict with Roman Catholic teaching are “miracles” which “tendentially prove” the Roman Catholic system from which they emerge.

      • They do prove the mission of the Catholic Church.

        Good! So if raising the dead proved the Divine Mission of Jesus and His Apostles it should do the same also for Catholics (whoever you want those to be) of later ages – right?

        • Raymond. The Vatican does not require any Roman Catholic to believe in any of the alleged miracles you listed. I do not believe in your so-called miracles of resurrection. I do not find them to be at all credible. If you’d like to engage in a debate about why any Christian should believe that the Roman Catholic Church is the Unam Sanctam outside of which there is no salvation, and not just about why you, Raymond Maxwell Spiotta, give full credence to the “miracles of the saints,” then I invite you to drop the posturing (you are not a Neanderthal) and engage George’s points on the ECCLESIOLOGY post.

      • The Vatican does not require any Roman Catholic to believe in any of the alleged miracles you listed.

        Not relevant.

        But, by way of correcting a misconception, while a Catholic is free of imposition on the part of the Church to believe any specific miracle, he has always to obey the dictates of prudence; and, as Benedict XIV pointed out in his touchstone work on the Miracles of the Saints, one can commit a sin against prudence by refusing to believe a manifest miracle. As regards Fatima, Pope Pius XII put the matter simply: “The time for doubting Fatima is past.” And it was John Paul II who declared that “Fatima imposes an obligation on the Church.”

        and not just about why you, Raymond Maxwell Spiotta, give full credence to the “miracles of the saints,”

        Obviously not what this is about. For me, as an indispensable preliminary, it’s about trying to figure out what *you* think miracles *do*. It has been like pulling teeth, honestly, b/c you show yourself really reluctant to answer me straightforwardly and have contradicted yourself on this point. So, as a kind of workable basis for whatever real discussion might follow on this REALLY IMPORTANT QUESTION, I want to get to the bottom of where you stand; as a matter of due course, I’m not interested in taking any of your tasty bait down any rabbit trail. The protasis of your last sentence flaunts a false dichotomy, and if you could use a refresher on why the question of miracles is an epistemologically decisive and therefore REALLY IMPORTANT QUESTION, you could re-read the intro to my post.

        So, I’ll ask again:

        So, if raising the dead proved the Divine Mission of Jesus and His Apostles it should do the same also for Catholics (whoever you want those to be) of later ages – right?

        Trent, my friend, please take this seriously. Don’t give me 16C counterblasts and jeremiad diatribes, give me first principles we can work from.

        • It’s not a false dichotomy.

          The fact that a Roman pontiff says that I am to believe Fatima, or any other “miracle” which you list means nothing.

          The fact that your “miracles” are not falsifiable makes this a pointless debate. The fact that some of them are abominations condemned by the doctrine of your own church is disturbing.

          For these reasons and others, Raymond, your entire POST is a rabbit-trail. I tire of this discussion. If you want to continue it, please bilocate or teleport on over here and talk to me about it over a beer.

          If raising the dead proved the Divine Mission of Jesus and His Apostles it should do the same also for Catholics (whoever you want those to be) of later ages – right?

          Not necessarily.

        • Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves. Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. (John 14:10-12)

          I’ve thought about your post for a very long time, Raymond. It astounds me that you ignore and dismiss my objections, and aureliusaugustine’s objections, as tasty bait leading down a rabbit trail. Your entire argument is premised upon the assertion that the great and greater works which Christ promises that his apostles will do are the ones that you have described. This you do not prove.

          It is my contention that Our Lord’s Great Commission encapsulates these great works:

          Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matt. 28:16-20)

          The Son of God sends men to preach the Gospel, baptize, and administer the sacraments. The Holy Spirit demonstrates His power by working through this Word to regenerate hearts and bring them to faith in that same Word. To preach repentance and forgiveness of sins is the greatest work which Christ gives for his disciples to do, for through it sinners are freed from bondage. It alone avails for eternity. How can anything be greater? Through the apostles and their successors (who were not apostles, and that’s OK), this word goes forth and bears fruit, “some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.” Can you think of a greater work than delivering Christ to the fallen world? It is no black mark on the Apostles to say that their resurrections, their healings, their snake-handling were only compelling in light of their preaching which brought about faith — the faith which brings us to Christ and Him to us. When you maintain that these works proved that their message was credible, you relegate the Holy Spirit to the mere efficient cause of signs and wonders, signs and wonders which in turn compel the reason to give credence to the proposition “Jesus is God,” or at least make Jesus’s divinity rationally plausible, at the very least sensible. Yet Christ says to Thomas that those who do not, as he does, see evidence of His divinity, yet acclaim Him as Lord all the same, are blessed. Blessed are those who do not see, and yet believe. Why? Because this acclamation of faith is something more deeply noetic than “being convinced”, and it can only be made by the power of the Holy Spirit. Again, it alone avails to eternal life. Thus the officium ministerium is a far greater work than ten bodily resurrections if by the latter the onlookers are not assured of the forgiveness of sins. Did the dead whom the apostles raised in the flesh not die again?

          Christ Our Lord says in the last chapter of Mark: “‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.'” Yet we also read that at the Last Judgment, some will say to Him, “‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’” And then He will declare to them, “‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” Miracles do not prove anything. They demonstrate. They show. “Here is power.” A demonstration of power does not prove that said power has divine sanction. So we read on in Mark, in the last verses, that “[the disciples] went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.” Since signs can clearly accompany lawlessness and false teaching, and they can clearly accompany the true gospel, they are not in and of themselves adequate delimiters of what is true. And your assertion that “demons can only do x kinds of miracles, but not y” is just that — an assertion. And it’s holding up another assertion: that all of the y category of miracles you purport actually happened.

      • It’s not a false dichotomy.

        Actually it is: miracles prove Divine Mission (read the Gospels, Acts of the Apostles, and epistles to the Corinthians), we have them, Lutherans don’t, therefore the Catholic Church is the Una Sancta.

        Not necessarily.

        In the Name of Jesus Christ who will pronounce eternal sentence upon your soul, answer me:

        How can a miracle of resurrection prove the Divine Mission of Our Lord and His Apostles and not prove it for someone else who works it, assuming one could? In the Name of my sweet Jesus, answer me.

      • And your assertion that “demons can only do x kinds of miracles, but not y” is just that — an assertion.

        You believe a demon could raise someone from the dead? Trent! Not even the Pharisees were dumb or wicked enough to suggest *that*!

        Miracles do not prove anything.

        Then the Gospel of John makes no sense *whatever*. Dear readers, stop wasting your time in this demon-infested internet arena and start reading the Holy Gospels.

        Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? You will go down to Hades!
        Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me. (Luke 10: 13- 16).

        Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!

        Farewell.

        • Since I know that you’re going to continue to read this thread, I’ll offer yet another rejoinder…

          Do you accept the distinction between proof and demonstration? I would hope so, given that the title of your post was originally “In Demonstration of the Spirit and of Power.” I regret sharing the html code for blockquotes; it seems only to have given an official tone to your dishonest and out-of-context use of quotations.

          Demon-infested internet arena? Seriously, Ray. Stop quoting the Gospels so selectively and as though your hermeneutical assumptions are self-evident.

          The Rev. Dr. Scott Murray, 5th Vice President of our Lutheran synod, has this to say about your spiel, which I took the liberty of forwarding to him. I pray that you have the humility to read it with an open mind:

          I would say that among Christians the Roman church has hands down the best verifiable miracles. If that is the touchstone of truth, you should be a Roman Catholic. No contest. The problem is that Satan who can appear as an angel of light (2Co 11:14) is also author of lying wonders (2Thess 2:9). So deception is a problem in this kind of crassly experiential evaluation of truth claims.

          What do you do about the fact that Jesus gathers, oh, only about 150 followers after three years of wonder working in and around Judea? And these were not garden variety miracles, but first class verifiable miracles (you know, raising the dead, etc.). If miracles are such a clear testimony then there ought to have been no crucifixion. There is carnal blindness that keeps us from understanding the meaning of such things. We only know the meaning of these things when God tells us what they mean (Scripture principle).

          There is a kind of counter-intuition that says that the truth is hidden under weakness not glorious miracles (Exhibit 1: the cross of Christ). So true miracles are often only seen under the signs of deep humiliation and suffering. To look for truth in the obvious is simply a return to paganism, because it gets rid of the cross (1Co 1:18-25). May God in His mercy save us from such triumphalism. It seems to me that the church that preaches Christ and His cross is the true church. Everybody’s got miracles; even the pagans. Not everybody preaches Christ as the crucified Savior.

        • “’Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades. He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.’

          Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.’

          And He said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.‘” (St. Luke 10:13-20)

          Apparently something matters even more than the subjection of spirits: having your name written in heaven.

          The more I read the Holy Gospels, Raymond, and the more I read what Our Lord, Who alone has the words of eternal life, says, the more I have to scratch my head at what you think the Roman Church’s miracles prove in and of themselves.

      • Raymond,

        It’s quite ridiculous, this equation you keep trying to make between our Lord’s miracles recorded in the Gospels and the laundry list of bizarre claims at the head of this thread.

        1) Raising the dead and healing the sick functioned as proofs of Christ’s identity as the Source of Life, and later, proofs that His Apostles were legitimately carrying on the mission He began. What exactly would a hovering or bilocating nun prove 15 or 18 centuries later, except that people love making up and believing crazy dramatic tabloid crap?

        2) Christ performed miracles perpetually. He was a wonder-worker, day in and day out. The Apostles were too, at least for spells. If God were still working in that way to validate His Church before the world, you wouldn’t have to comb two millennia to come up with a list of dubious claims and likely hoaxes. Your bishops would simply heal the sick, right? Egad, man, Benny Hinn alone has healed more people in the last fifty years than the whole worldwide Church of Rome. If you believe the hype.

        3) You talk about epistemology, but somehow the fact has flown right past you that we have no reason to believe that any of this stuff you calmly report (by hearsay) actually happened. Your stories are no more credible than Buddhist miracles, Muslim miracles, or Wiccan miracles. Somehow you expect us to believe yours though, even though the only way you have to differentiate them from these others is that obviously the others are done by demons, and demons can’t raise the dead. You mistake our objection. We don’t think that’s obvious at all. Maybe demons did get involved in some cases, but maybe they were involved in some of the ones you consider to be holy too. And the bigger problem is, you simply aren’t accounting for hoaxes, tall tales, embellished memories, uncritical observations, and over-eager miracle hunters set on canonizing their favorite boy (or girl). Those things will happen in every religious community, and especially in very large, very traditional pre-modern ones.

        4) Do I think some of that stuff actually happened? Yes, I do. But stuff like that happens for Christians of all stripes who simply pray for aid. Well, maybe not the levitation.

        5) The purpose of this board is discussion of doctrinal differences. This is not a doctrinal difference, nor is it something we can actually discuss, because discussion requires common ground in the form of shared facts that are accepted as such by both sides. Very little discussion can happen when the whole matter at issue is a long list of incredibly tendentious “facts” dictated by one side to the other as givens that must be accepted before conversation can resume.

  7. Come on, man, everybody claims miracles. Hindus do, Muslims do, Protestants do too, esp. the Charismatic ones. If I made my decisions based on such claims, I would have to become a Krishna-worshiping Muslim Pentecostal who takes pilgrimages to Lourdes.

    And as for the remarkable claim that the consecrated body consists of myocardial tissue, it seems relevant that this “revelation” contradicts the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “Christ is present whole and entire in each of the species and whole and entire in each of their parts, in such a way that the breaking of the bread does not divide Christ” (1377).

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