Each year a team of medical professionals from my parish, St. Dominic, spend a week in a poor village in El Salvador screening and treating more than 1,000 patients. On their visit last month, to their dismay there was only enough lidocaine for local anesthesia for five or six patients. However, each time the doctors needed the lidocaine to prepare another patient for a procedure, there inexplicably was some left in the vial! This went on day after day until the last patient was treated. The pastoral associate who led the group views this was an honest-to-goodness miracle.
We say things like “It’s a miracle I didn’t have a heart attack watching the last World Series game.” A real miracle, however, is something impossible that occurs when there is no natural or scientific explanation and it can only be attributed to divine intervention. The Old Testament is rife with miracles, such as a burning bush, a Red Sea that parts, and a boy brought back to life by the prophet Elijah. Jesus, the divine physician, performed miracles. At his word, a leper was healed, a paralytic stood and walked, a blind man regained his sight, a bent over woman straightened up, and a dead little girl came back to life. Jesus didn’t multiply medicine, but he multiplied bread and fish and changed water into excellent wine.
The saints, too, are known as miracle workers. The apostles healed many sick people, for example, when Saint Peter told a lame beggar to get up and walk, the man jumped up and began walking and leaping! Saint Andre Bessette of Montreal and Venerable Solanus Casey of Detroit healed people. Saint Pio of Pietrelcina could bilocate. Saint John Vianney could read minds. When bread ran out, Saint Julie Billiart miraculously provided it. Saints continue to work wonders after they die. Before a person is canonized, the Church requires two miracles as a sign that he or she is really in heaven.
At Fatima thousands of people witnessed the sun dancing in the sky. Every year on the feast of Saint Januarius his blood kept in a0 vial liquifies. Our Lady of Prompt Succor in New Orleans has provided miraculous protection, most notably against a fire and a British attack. When the atomic bomb fell on Hiroshima, eight Jesuits living only a half mile from ground zero were unharmed and not even affected by radiation later, unlike the 80,000 who died instantly. Often when towns or buildings are destroyed a religious image is unharmed. And every so often something happens in our life that we can’t explain. A man’s epilepsy disappears after his parish prays for him. After having surgery a woman experiences no pain.
Yes, God obviously is alive and well and breaks into our lives periodically. I remember once when I dialed the wrong number, a man I didn’t know answered. He said, “I was just sitting here asking God to give me a sign that he exists and then out of the blue you, a Sister, calls me.” One time a community treasurer didn’t know how she could pay a certain bill until a donation came in—for the exact amount due. A friend claims that when she has an impossible number of things to do and prays for help, time stretches for her!
Did you ever start searching for something in a book, and it opened to exactly the right page? Did you ever “coincidentally” encounter a person who impacted your life? Were you ever in a situation where you should have been hurt but escaped unharmed? If so, you might say you were lucky. Better to say you were blessed!
Jesus promised, “If you have faith the size of a mustard see, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there, and it will move” (Matthew 17:20). Since nothing is impossible for God, we shouldn’t be surprised when he works miracles for us. After all, God loves us.
Have you experienced or witnessed an honest-to-goodness miracle?
BOOK REVIEW: Praying with Scripture: The Bible: You’ve Got Mail!
The Bible is Sacred Scripture for Christians who regard God as its author. It is a gift by which God reveals himself to us and communicates with us. Sadly, for too many people, it is a hidden treasure. If they own a Bible, it may lie gathering dust instead of becoming dog-eared. Praying with Scripture introduces the reader to the Bible as God’s letter meant to be taken personally—a love letter. For the uninitiated, the book briefly explains the history and composition of the Bible and how to find your way around in it. But the large majority of chapters are devoted to how to use the Bible for prayer. Topics found in the book include ways to read the Bible, methods for meditating on Scripture passages, how to personalize passages, various ways to pray psalms, lectio divina, and lacing the Rosary and Way of the Cross with Scripture. A new chapter not found in the original version of this book is “Teaching Children to Pray with Scripture.”
At the end of each chapter are questions for personal reflection that may also be used for group sharing in book club or retreat settings. These questions are followed by a number of suggestions for Bible-based prayer related to the subject of the chapter.
In Praying with Scripture Sister Kathleen shares simply and clearly the knowledge she’s acquired from years of teaching and writing about God’s Word as well as from using it for prayer herself. People who are looking to nurture their personal relationship with God (and helping others to do so) are bound to profit from reading this book.