Miracles


One of the regular commentators on this blog is a British fellow who was brought up a Catholic and has left the Catholic Church for charismatic Protestantism. It’s great to have him here because his questions and comments are always lively and, although sometimes punchy, are always put with good humor and a charitable spirit.

I can certainly understand why some people would leave the Catholic Church for charismatic Protestantism. Maybe within Catholicism they had a genuinely bad experience at the hands of some terrible priest or some other Catholic hypocrite. Perhaps they were poorly catechized and only made what they feel is a personal response through the ministry of the Protestant Church. If that is so, then the Catholic Church let them down. Once in the Protestant church they no doubt received anti-Catholic teaching and became critical of the Catholic Church. All that is understandable (though regrettable)

Our particular commentator though, claims that one of the reasons he went for the charismatic church was because there was a lack of miracles in the Catholic Church. This is one I just don’t get. I realize that charismatic Protestantism claims great miracles: they claim to raise people from the dead, people are healed of AIDs, homosexuality is ‘healed’. They claim exorcisms of all sorts: the spirit of almost anything that troubles you can be ‘cast out.’ Why I once knew of a charismatic who used to cast out the ‘demon’ of thumbsuckng from young children. The list or miracles goes on. I remember the Toronto blessing when people miraculously were filled with the Holy Spirit and got down on all fours and barked like dogs, mooed like cows and did all sorts of amazing things–all through the wonderful power of the Holy Spirit! Why there are even charismatics in the American south who take the New Testament at face value and drink poison and handle rattlesnakes and are not harmed. (well some are, but that’s proof that they were sinners and didn’t have enough faith…)

Now, I for one, don’t like to be skeptical of anything. If someone claims exorcisms and healings and raising from the dead, I really don’t think it is kind to ask the obvious questions like, “Gosh, does that mean they don’t have undertakers in that town anymore?” or “I guess with all the healings the doctors and hospitals have gone out of business.” or “My word, what sort of implications are there for the pension business now that people aren’t dying anymore?” No indeed, I’m a positive sort of fellow and want to praise God for the miracles that undoubtedly do occur within charismatic Protestantism.

So let us be positive about the miracles within charismatic Protestantism, but what I find curious is that our particular friend abandoned Catholicism for want of miracles. What! one jumps overboard from the barque of Peter because there aren’t enough miracles? Why the Catholics have a list of miracles to make any Charismatic green with envy. The Catholics have miracles most charismatics wouldn’t even dream of.

Let’s start with the saints: first of all, for the saint to be declared a saint they need to have performed a couple of miracles not just from the evangelistic revival tent, but from heaven. Now that’s a pretty impressive accomplishment I’d say! Then there are the lives of the saints themselves. There are those who have had visions and locutions from heaven, saints who have stigmata, saints who have levitated, saints who have existed for decades on nothing but the Eucharistic host, saints with healing gifts, saints who could ‘read souls’, saints who could bi-locate, saints who have received miraculous stigmata. Then there are the saints whose bodies were incorrupt after death, those whose corrupt bodies exuded supernatural light and a fragrance of roses, and those who have exuded a holy fragrant oil that healed people.

The list goes on! We have to include miraculous apparitions of the Blessed Virgin, the sun spinning at Fatima, visions of Jesus and messages from heaven. Then there are bleeding statues, weeping statues, Eucharistic hosts that bleed and faithful souls who are healed at all these wonderful shrines and places of miraculous pilgrimage.

That someone might leave the Catholic Church for a humdinger of a Bible study, or for a hefty sermon, or for some spirit lifting praise and worship music, or warm Christian fellowship, or for a more relaxed moral code which allows them to be divorced and remarried without any sort of discipline, or for a church of their own choosing and their own making, or for the assurance that they are going straight to heaven without having to suffer either in this life or in the life hereafter–well all that is pretty attractive and I can see why someone would scoot out of the Catholic Church for all that.

But to leave because the Catholic Church doesn’t have enough miracles?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00447929797019147894 james hastings

    Dear Dwight,Just a note to say thank you for my glowing reference. I think its time for me to leave again. Maybe I can visit your splendid blog after Hogmanay. (that’ll confuse your American readers)As ever, you almost summed up my views accurately, but I know you mean it with the best intentions.Before I go, please allow me a quick response.1. To suggest I might leave Catholicism for Protestantism as the latter has a “more relaxed moral code,” made me smile. Its well known Catholic priests don’t mention artificial contraception from the pulpit because half their congregation would walk out. In my Evangelical church, couples would not be allowed to become members if they live together unmarried. In a recent interview I did with Catholic Marriage Care in the UK, which counsels Catholics, the head of that group said their policy is not to tell co-habiting couples to live apart. He added the Holy Family of Nazareth was a modern invention. If you doubt what I say, check with your fellow UK Catholic bloggers who all reported my story. Finally, I’m surprised you don’t seem to believe homosexuality can be ‘healed’ (your quotation marks) The Catholics I referred to in earlier comments, such as David Harp and James Parker insist they were healed of homosexuality, even though James who runs EnCourage a Magisterium following group for gay men, says he was told by a UK Catholic priest from whom he sought spiritual counsel, that he was born gay and should continue living with his boyfriend.Where is the real home of the ‘relaxed moral code.’2. Miracles. I can only repeat the thoughts of loyal Catholics like Fr Bob deGrandis, who insists the Catholic denomination has a “huge theology on suffering but not on healing.”Its easy to scoff at the worse excesses of some Pentecostal healing services, and there are some terrible cases. However, if you can put the popular prejudice aside and look honestly at the majority of the healing ministry in Evangelical churches and Catholic Charismatic Renewal, you will see people fulfilling Jesus’ words that his followers will “do greater things” than him.I find it strange you criticise me, an Evangelical, for promoting Catholic Magisterium following healing ministries like Cor et Lumen which are backed by their bishops (and where many Catholics have been healed of homosexuality) while all you can promote are bleeding statues.3. I didn’t leave Catholicism after 40 years because of a bad priest or poor catechism or a terrible experience with a Catholic lay person. In the past six years, I have attended a Baptist church then when I moved to another part of the UK, a Pioneer Church. Apart from a few silly members in each, the vast majority of these congregations and the pastors and elders, have never said or taught anything negative about Catholicism. For forty years I enjoyed the cosy, warm glow of Catholic liturgy, the feel-good factor of candles and incense. But tempting as those were, I and tens of millions of other Catholics (such as in South America) needed a real encounter with the I Am.We have found it in the healing reality, the deep fellowship, the profound worship and even the catchy Gospel-based hymns. But above all, we have found it in the Real Presence of God which is at the heart of every service in my awesome, growing Evangelical church.As ever, I leave you with my genuine blessings and my plea that you remain in the Catholic denomination where there is indeed salvation, unless you feel the Lord calling you elsewhere. I pray you encounter true Catholicism, for you are part of a great denomination which has brought much to the world and which continues to offer much to the world. But please leave the bleeding statues in the attic.I shall take my leave, and resist the temptation to respond to the kind, charitable and loving remarks which I know will now follow from your loyal band of bloggers!A blessed and abundant Hogmanay to you, your parishioners and your bloggers. James

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Dear James, once again you didn’t quite get my meaning. First of all, I didn’t say that these were your reasons for leaving Catholicism, but that these were some of the reasons why some might leave, and that they were understandable.Secondly, I am most certainly not confining Catholic miracles to ‘bleeding statues’ but for the second time now have compiled a very impressive list of a whole range of quite amazing miracles that Protestants don’t even dream about. To say I limit Catholic miracles to ‘bleeding statues’ is inaccurate. If you really wanted to be fair about this you would have to start giving an account for the rest of my list of Catholic miracles. Wouldn’t it be possible for us to say, “Gee whiz, those charismatics–where are their incorrupt bodies of saints? where are their stigmatics? Where are their levitating saints, their saints with bi location, the saints that heal from heaven? the saints that live on nothing but the Eucharist for decades? Where are their Eucharistic miracles, their apparitions of Mary, why don’t their people report the sun spinning witnessed by 30,000 people?Finally, while I pointed out that it is possible to poke fun at charismatic miracles (as you find it easy to make fun of bleeding statues) I was not going there, and was willing to give charismatics the benefit of the doubt.I thank you for your visits here, and hope they will continue. If and when you come again could I ask you to engage with the questions we have seriously? With other non Catholics this is what I suggest for dialogue to be productive: Let us not find fault with individual Catholics or Protestants–focusing on the folly hypocrisies and downright failures of our friends from both sides doesn’t really get us anywhere. Let’s instead discuss what is true or false about the formal teachings of our respective beliefs. If I put a Catholic challenge to you–attempt to answer it without resorting to criticism of Catholics. Simply answer our theological questions, and we will attempt to answer yours.I hope in the future this may help us to produce more light than heat.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02439220600660632349 LizzieD

    Dear Father Dwight, I see James H. has been rather prolific on your blog. I had a rather lengthy blog discussion with him on his blog, (sparked off by one of his rather nasty anti Catholic comments on someone else’s blog) and found there as here, that he is intellectually dishonest, in that he will never answer a question directly. I gave him plenty of Church Father quotes, and even Reformation “Fathers” quotes to show how the earlier Christians, even the Protestant ones, honoured Mary, but he refused to answer them directly. I played along with him for a while, then left him in Our Blessed Mother’s arms (although he is mightily kicking and screaming at present, like a rebellious toddler) and now I just pray for him regularly, with that most powerful of weapons, the Rosary!! (when I told him that, he didn’t like it either). Actually, he should really be pleased that I’ve done that, for if it were up to me, I’d give him a good belt across the backside for all the disgusting and heretical things he’s come out with (especially against St Joseph, and Our Lady). One final mark of his dishonesty is that on the Flame ministries website, there is this mention of him – “Another review by Catholic Journalist James Hastings of the Catholic Times UK said, “It’s Faith Jim, is on a par with C.S. Lewis ‘Mere Christianity’.” – but maybe he doesn’t know about it!Yours in the true peace of Christ, ministered to us through Holy Mother Church!Elizabeth.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Hello Lizzie, I wouldn’t be quite so harsh as you, but it is sadly true that James side steps hard questions and usually resorts to experiential problems with Catholicism rather than dealing with the questions at hand.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13669565372315999650 Jeffrey Smith

    You might add that miracles in the Church, at least those that are accepted, are rigorously studied and heavily documented.

  • http://purifyyourbride.stblogs.com/ Randy

    James,The talk about a “more relaxed moral code” probably should have been a more comfortable moral code. People are more comfortable with strict rules in some areas and no rules at all in others. The point is they want to choose where the strictness should be and where the relaxation should be. Protestantism lets you do that. Than it lets you trash the Catholics for being strict about different things than you. A very attractive proposition. All you lose is the truth. Still you will be able to find pastors who can convincingly argue that the truth you have chosen is the truth of God. You make the common error of confusing what some of our worse parishes teach with the truth of the church. Catholics know better than to do this. They know the church is against contraception. They know it is against premarital sex – both homosexual and heterosexual. So people do leave the church to get away from these teachings. No matter how much Father Feelgood tries he cannot change what the church teaches and everyone knows it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00447929797019147894 james hastings

    Dear Lizzied,Just a point of information as I know you are so keen on honesty.You write about me: “One final mark of his dishonesty is that on the Flame ministries website, there is this mention of him – “Another review by Catholic Journalist James Hastings of the Catholic Times UK said, “It’s Faith Jim, is on a par with C.S. Lewis ‘Mere Christianity’.” – but maybe he doesn’t know about it!”Lizzied, I have searched the Flame website and cannot find the quote you mention above. There are four references to me that I can see and I have quoted them in full below.Please let me know on what page of the Flame website is the quote you have picked out. I cannot find it.If you tell me, I will inform Flame immediately to correct it.You, Dwight and anybody else can check out Flame’s website for yourselves at:www.flameministries.orgBelow are the four quotes I can see on Flame’s website attributed to me. They are very different from the one Lizzied quotes as they do not refer to me as a “Catholic Journalist.” The four quotes: NOMINATED BOOK OF THE YEAR 2007″The Universe and Catholic Times newspapers UK have asked me to nominate my book of the year for their Christmas editions. I’ve nominated It’s Faith Jim, But not as we know it.” – JAMES HASTINGS. Journalist.It’s Faith Jim, is on a par with C.S. Lewis ‘Mere Christianity’.”- James Hastings – Journalist Catholic Times, United Kingdom”It’s Faith Jim is on a par with C.S. Lewis ‘Mere Christianity’.”James Hastings, Journalist, Catholic Times and Christian Herald UK.“Eddie’s writing is similar to that of C.S. Lewis. Like Lewis, Eddie has an incisive mind and the gift of good storytelling. He also has a sound grasp of Scripture and its message in our individual lives in the 21st century; “This book is on a par with C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity” James Hastings, Journalist for the Catholic Times in England said.BlessingsJames

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00447929797019147894 james hastings

    Lizzied,I have just found a fifth quote on the Flame website from me. It actually refers to me as a “Christian journalist.”If you see the exact quote you have picked out, please tell me on what page it appears so I can have it corrected.Here is the fifth quote:”What readers are saying”I was exhausted and thrilled after reading the two chapters you emailed. What a story of grace and triumph over the enemy. To go from that life you led to what Flame is doing worldwide now is miraculous. – It’s Faith Jim, is on a par with CS Lewis’ Mere Christianity.”- James Hastings – Christian Journalist, Glasgow, Scotland.”BlessingsJames

  • edward crabtree

    nice

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16248847549324304536 Doug

    On a completely separate note, can anyone explain to me why it looks as if Padre Pio is wearing a monsignor’s choir cassock under his alb in so many photos? Is it only a discoloration due to the camera technology of the time, and thus his brown Capuchin habit, or was he some sort of prelate of honor (something that seems very uncharacteristic of the late saint)? Thoughts?

  • Mark

    I think James pretty much hit it on the head. Back in the day, pre-V2, the Church had a transcendent, divine liturgy. It was regal, pious and with the Eucharist, it had the Real Presence of God in it. But the leaders of the Church, in their flawed wisdom thought that we should become more like Protestant Churches. So we have a new NO liturgy of that values community over worship. But what Protestant churches were they copying? Why the old mainline ones, like the Lutherans and Methodists, not the fundamentalists. So we attached our fate to the sinking ship of mainline Protestantism and sunk.The fundamentalist have something that the mainline Protestant denominations and the new Catholic lite NO Church don’t have, and that’s energy. So does that mean that we should handle snakes and speak in tongues? No. There’s an old saying in politics that when a Democrat runs as a Republican, the Republican candidate wins. In other words, people will take the real Republican over the Democrat who’s pretending to be a Republican. It’s the same way with religion. When we made ourselves into a pseudo-Protestant Church, the winner were the real Protestants.We have one miracle that all the fundamentalists can’t reproduce, and that’s the Eucharist. One blogger I read came up with a list of things we can do to get the pews filled up again, and in short it’s to return to what makes us uniquely Catholic – the gold and statues, the incense and Gregorian chant. But though he has a point, he misses the heart of the matter. What we need is as James suggested, to concentrate on the miracle that happens at each and every Mass – the Eucharist. We need to focus on, believe in, and live by the Eucharist. It all flows from there. Once we worship and adore the Real Presence of Christ Jesus instead of celebrating a Protestant communal meal, the more visible signs will come about naturally – things like the TLM Mass, gold, incense, statues, candles, the Virgin Mary, Gothic architecture. Some have put all the emphasis on these familiarly Catholic things without understanding where they come from, which is the Real Presence of the Eucharist.As James said, right now, for the last half century really, all that we’ve had was a warm and cozy feeling. That’s the revisions of V2 for you. I’ve seen the restored TLM mass and it’s anything but cozy. It’s sacred and other worldly, a vision of the real Heaven described in Revelation. And lest we forget, the old Catholic liturgy is Biblical, something that all the hopping up and down, falling over, hour long sermons by a mere man and wailing and crying of the fundamentalists isn’t.

  • Anonymous

    James Hastings:Simply copying Lizzied’s quote to google would have shown you the way to:http://www.flameministries.org/aboutfmi.html

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00447929797019147894 james hastings

    Thanks anonymous. I have asked Flame to make a correction. There are five other references to me on the website reviewing Its Faith, Jim and that’s the only one where they label me a Catholic journalist.I can only assume that one slipped through by someone at Flame who did not know me and assumed I was Catholic. But there was no deliberate attempt to mislead.I think any Catholic visiting the site can clearly see it is an approved Catholic ministry.BlessingsJames

  • http://openid.aol.com/julienicke julienicke

    I believe as the Catholics do, that God’s grace changes a person’s life utterly and so you will see the effects of their faith in their words and actions. I do therefore think something is amiss when Evangelical Protestants (and others) claim they have the “real presence” of Christ in their lives and hearts, and yet they are compelled to bash and ridicule and attack. Like James.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07190964707920864640 Auroramike71

    One my favorite miracles is the Santuario De Chimayo..Check out it here: http://www.roadsideamerica.com/attract/NMCHIshrine.html

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01718162592660319087 Radical Catholic Mom

    I would just remind people that the Catholic Church has the largest number of Charismatics period, mostly located in India and the Philippines.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00659833542780220795 Tiber Jumper

    It is unfortunate that a protestant charismatic thinks the Catholic Church is somehow devoid of the number of miracles that he is seeing in his groups. When St Frances De Sales attempted to bring back the Calvinists in Chablis, he composed several excellent ‘tracts’ to help them see the logic of the One True Church and the fallacy of their new religion. One of his main points was to ask them point blank:”Where are your miracles?” Catholics have them but your “pretend” religion does not!”Yes admittedly these are polemic comments at this time, but at the time he said them they were not. He was basically “calling them as he saw them.”Here is St Frances Desales:Let us then conclude this subject: the Church has always been accompanied by miracles, solid and certain as those of her Spouse; therefore she is the true Church: for, to use the argument of the good Nicodemus (John iii. 2) in like case, I will say: No society can do these miracles which this does, so glorious and so continual, unless God was with it. And what did our Lord say to the disciples of S. John (Matt. xi. 5): Say, the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear, to show that he was the Messias. Hearing that in the Church are done such grand miracles, we must conclude that the Lord is indeed in this place (Gen. xxviii. 16). But as regards your pretended Church, I can say nothing more to it than: If it can believe, all things are possible to him that believes (Mark ix. 2 2): if it were the true Church it would be followed by miracles. “Catholicism has always and will always be accompanied by miracles.Charismatic protestants don’t have the corner on the action of the Holy Spirit, though we thought we did! (When I was one of them for 31 years)here’s a link to St Frances comments

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10697706672495544901 Catholic Bibliophagist

    I just wanted to point out to Mark that the current Mass is not inherently a “warm and cozy,” Protestantized, communal meal. That’s just the way it’s been done (or mis-done) in far too many parishes. I’ve been in parishes where the current Mass is reverently offered and reflects a distinct sense of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.If priests would just “do the red, say the black,” i.e., follow the rubrics and use the words in the missal without alteration (politically motivated and otherwise), that might be a start in the right direction. But the laity also need to be properly catechised on the meaning of the Mass and what is actually happening there. I often think that an outsider observing the average parish Mass would not be likely to conclude that a belief in the Real Presence was a teaching of the Church.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03936185959033443640 Halden

    “I would just remind people that the Catholic Church has the largest number of Charismatics period, mostly located in India and the Philippines.”Umm, do you have a source for that statistic? Projections I’ve read (in the books by Phillip Jenkins and Alister McGrath primarily on the “neo-Apostolic” protestant movements) indicates that in less than 20 years the number of free church pentecostals in the world will be nearly half the size of worldwide Roman Catholicism. I kinda doubt that half of Roman Catholics are charismatics.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15000747762174079070 PraiseDivineMercy

    Personally, I would say that Catholics are just a lot less dramatic about their miracles. My best friend was cured of homosexuality after her conversion to the Catholic faith. A women I know was cured of cancer after we prayed for her. Anyone who works in a hospital has stories of the many miracles that happen every day through prayer. I have heard of profound medical recoveries resulting from the anointing of the sick.Officially recognized miracles (usually part of a canonization process) are thoroughly investigated to rule out explainable causes. Exorcisms still take place, but they are not publicized and psychological causes must be ruled out beforehand.None of the happenings aforementioned occurred at public prayer services. When I hear such criticism, I cannot help but think of the Centurion’s words from Matt 8, which Catholics say at each mass before receiving Communion.Matt. 8: 4-7,13: “When he entered Capernaum, a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.”He said to him, “I will come and cure him.”The centurion said in reply, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed. For I too am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith. … And Jesus said to the centurion, “You may go; as you have believed, let it be done for you.” And at that very hour (his) servant was healed.”

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05281971036280556843 Jonner of Ryley

    I am a fairly non descript follower of Jesus Christ, not fitting under most labels of Churches. I have maintained as open a mind as is possible without accepting anything with out some proofs. I have met the pastor of the toronto airport church ( from where the “toronto blessing” came), being ever sceptical I was pleased to hear that yes in deed one person did once bark like a dog, he had no idea as to why or what benefit there was in it for anyone involved, but that it only happened once. This was widly reported especially in the more conservative traditions (of which I am a part) and the working of God was scorned. I say the working of God because I had the pleasure of meeting regularly with a group who were profoundly affected by that blessing. they were the warmest most loving people I have ever met ( more loving than my self for shure).I guess this is sort of my second point and it’s more of a question than a point, for I do not understand the improtance of Mary in some churches, I have studied the Bible, and questioned it alot and have found that it is to be trusted absolutely. but I have not found any reverence shown either in the gospels or in the teachings of the apostles on the subject. if someone can give me some Idea as to where the doctrine comes from and how old the doctrine is ( eg. the oldest manuscripts with reference to the doctrine, and where to fing more information), I would be very pleased. I also have some questions about the Incorrupt bodies of the Saints. 1) what is there significance? aside from showing there is some supernatural force at work here. ( eg. is it something to strive for? does it help people? if so how, aside from healing which is an obvious help.) 2) is ther any biblical basis for this anomaly ( should the church recognize this as a sign from God?)as explanation I only heard of this from a catholic friend a week ago and so my knowledge of it is very small.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18065529769651450157 Brian

    Miracles or no miracles, that does not change the fact that a Protestant is separated from the Body of Christ, the Catholic Church. And that is a precarious situation that no Christian should what to find themselves in.That being said, unlike Fr. Longenecker, I am skeptical of these miraculous claims. So what are these miracles happening in Protestantism? How can I know more about them? In particular, I would like to know about the public miracles, if there are any.


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