Miracles! Atheists! Bears!

There are times – frustrating times – when our religion is a leap of faith; a walk into the yawning darkness. There are times when our daily prayer crumbles into daily mantra, and we feel guilty of every charge the new atheist brings against us; we are brain-washed, we are ignorant, we were fools ever to believe. There are times of dryness. There are times when God really seems dead. And then there is Every Time Else.

And Every Time Else – with apologies paid to saints experiencing the dark night of the soul, and secularists pursuing the same – is where it’s at. I was giving a talk on Mary to a group of middle schoolers, and, as a joke to get them thinking, I asked whether she had appeared to any of them recently. It was with some surprise, then, that I watched hands shoot up. A fellow teacher told the story of a priest for whom statues of Mary would weep, a priest in Northern Virginia with the stigmata who tapes his wrists on Good Friday – which apparently does very little to stem the flow of blood that runs down his arms – and how with him, she had seen the veil of Our Lady turn and change colors. A little girl told of her parent’s rosary turning to gold on a pilgrimage. I told the story my parents told me of Mary appearing to me as an infant, accompanied by the overpowering smell of roses. And suddenly, gently, the realization settled across the hall of kids; we were surrounded by miracles.

I suppose any self respecting atheist is at this point scoffing: Rosaries into gold, what despicable, brainwashed piety! But I hold you accountable for your own piety, for your own irrational dogma that rosaries stay wooden. I will literally mail 100 dollars in cash to any atheist who can answer the question Chesterton has still not heard answered:

The question of miracles is merely this. Do you know why a pumpkin goes on being a pumpkin? If you do not, you cannot possibly tell whether a pumpkin could turn into a coach or couldn’t. That is all.

 Or why the sun stays still, or the dead stay dead. Or why bodies rot. That’s right, incorruptibles, for goodness sake.

You want a miracle, there’s a miracle. Verified by secular science, there for anyone willing to see, bodies that should rot do not. Do not acknowledge this and at the same time scoff at the Resurrection. Do not look upon what you and I quite simply have no other explanation than that the old, stubborn, Roman Catholic Church gives, and then say “but that’s no reason to believe in a God. We simply don’t know.” Real scientists go where the evidence leads them, and stop when it fails. They do not choose which evidence suits them and ignore the rest, that would make them, I believe, douchers.

I’m sorry, that was uncharitable. Know that I find you much more fun than most Christians. Anyhow, Catholics! We are a religion of miracles! Find them! Pray for them! Enjoy them! And come back and read my blog afterwards, I’m very needy for attention.

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11677729699488515161 Gurth

    I do not know if there is such a thing as a "holy envy" but I can't help it but envy the many that had deep, moving, religious experiences ( like above mentioned miracles, resting in spirit etc… ) I haven't been as (un)fortunate (Blessed are those Who Believe, Yet have not Seen), but am strongly aware of the overwhelming fact that our religion is religion of miracles, of the live involved God and the interceding saints. Even tho not everyone is to have Holy Mother appear to them, we should finely tune our hearts to be able to recognize the small miracles that happen almost everyday.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11677729699488515161 Gurth

    ACK! I can't believe i forgot that, but I did have a miraculous experience. I remembered this while reading Mark Shea's post on confesssions.A year ago I decided to have a well prepared – a life- confession with a priest that has a saintly reputation. It was uncommon confession becouse we sat in a room, face to face, and his stomache kept growling becouse he was fasting. So there I was, opening up and spilling out all that was on my heart, when I got a funny hot, burning sensation on my face. I felt like it was on fire. This discomforted and decontretated me so i apologised to him that I feel funny and hot in the face. His resposne came as a blow to me: "Ofcourse, your sins must be burned away."

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00662784804825998751 Christine

    Some miracles are so powerful and large that we can't help noticing them when they occur. But I've noticed that when I'm most involved and active in my prayer life, I begin to see many smaller – though no less amazing miracles all around. Signal graces, and such.Also, St. Bernadette's incorrupt body is definitely awesome. But on watching the video, I was really disappointed that such a treasure is being kept in a fairly unattractive church!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10740611327082314715 Sean

    I have to admit I'm skeptical of such things. My default response is to think someone hallucinated or had a trick of the eye. Who is the better Christian, the person who sees a statue walk and decides that God exists, or the one who decides that God exists based on the normal things he observes in the world around him?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17624589296171657699 egosumbarb

    One of my own miracles involved stumping a bunch of medical professionals. I was plagued by incredibly serious health issues when I was born. A doctor at the hospital suggested a complete blood transfusion, which my father refused since a cousin of mine had died shortly after birth upon receiving this treatment. The doctor then told my parents to just take me home. There was no chance that I would make it much longer and there was no sense in me dying alone in a hospital when I could just die at home. My dad refused to accept defeat and turned to God. My parents prayed the rosary all through the night and when they got back to the hospital the next morning, I was 100% fine. Everyone at the hospital was baffled and there wasn't a single doctor in the place that could explain what had happened. I don't think a newborn child (who barely had any concept of religion at the time)could have a "placebo effect" cure…or that a roomful of doctors "hallucinated."But you're right @Sean, people not should rely on miracles to see that God exists. It wasn't until I entered the sciences that I truly began to see how incredible everything is when you check it out under a microscope. It's just fascinating to see how things work (from the chemistry of something as simple as water, to the signalling pathways that help us fight off infection). I can't tell you how many moments I've had where I'd be reading a textbook and thinking, "Wow, God is a genius." In my experience (I too can be a skeptic at times) these moments are what cemented my belief in God.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17624589296171657699 egosumbarb

    *should notYou'd think I'd get it right on the second try edit…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12679230722483582032 Marc

    @ Seanneither. It's what they do after that counts.

  • http://catechesisinthethirdmillennium.wordpress.com/ catechesisinthethirdmillennium

    Enjoyed your post. Isn't it great to continue to see God at work! Awesome!

  • http://herenvardo.livejournal.com/ herenvardo

    Is St. Bernadette's incorruptability a slap in the faith to Atheists?Amazing story about those kids. Just – wow!And as a (former) scientist myself, yes, I have to agree with the Blessed Tolkien: 'The green earth, you say? That is a mighty matter of legend, though you tread it lightly under the sun.'

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17624589296171657699 egosumbarb

    Tolkien mention for the win!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10740611327082314715 Sean

    @Marc: You just sent me an uppercut. Wow.

  • Jared Clark

    My Sophmore year in High School, I would have random dizzy spells and awful headaches. After several trips to the doctor, an MRI and CAT scan, and a specialist or two (and some weird test where they sprayed water into my ear. That triggered some terrible nausea…apparently the worst that doctor had ever seen), they still had no idea what, exactly, was wrong with me.
    We told our priest about it, and he offered the sacrament of “Blessing of the Sick”. The headaches and dizzy spells stopped.