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Weeping House in Australia

This news report from the Daily Telegraph tells us about a house in Australia that weeps miraculous healing oils. Lina and George Tannous who emigrated from Lebanon lost their son Mike in a car accident in 2006. Initially the oil seeped from his photographs and from icons in the home. Now the oils seeps from all the walls of the house. Lina and George believe their son Mike is a saint and want the Vatican to canonize him. They claim that miracles have already been achieved through the mysterious holy oil.

This sort of story confirms why I am a Catholic. What is the Catholic response to such things? First of all we do not deny that miracles happen. A miracles is, errm, a miracle. Which means it is an occurrence outside the normal laws of the natural order. However, at the same time, we are expected to exercise caution and careful judgement. We should look for every natural explanation first. We should allow science to step in and tell us what is going on if it can. We should understand that often people just ‘see things’ as a result of religious suggestion and because they desperately want to ‘see things’. I was at at charismatic meeting once and the minister was laying hands on people and they were dropping and ‘resting in the Spirit’ then I heard one lady say to the minister, drop me over there. I’m planning to rest for a nice long time. So sometimes strange things happen, but we sort of help them happen.

So we should examine the oil and find out if there is any rational explanation. In addition to people ‘seeing things’. We should be prepared also that there are charlatans and frauds who produce ‘miracles’ to gain attention or money or both. Finally, some paranormal events are the result of psychic disturbances. Sometimes poltergeists aren’t demons. They’re unexplained manifestations of a disturbed adolescent mind. Similarly, people who are traumatized by grief or illness or disaster unconsciously manifest strange happenings.

But then, we also allow for true miracles. God works through his saints. Wonderful things happen, and one of the reasons I’m a Catholic is because in the end of the day the supernatural-ness of the events in the weeping house in Australia are not determined by Lina and George Tannous or the devotees who are flocking there or by me, but by the church.

We have an authority that both believes in miracles and yet is rightly skeptical. I’ll wait for them to make up their mind.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00956794093145514574 Der Wolfanwalt

    Father, could you explain your meaning in the last half of your third paragraph? I lost you at that point and I wanted to make sure of what you were saying.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06962374096401238994 shadowlands

    I'd like to know more about the information in the third paragraph.

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

    some experts in the paranormal believe that in certain unusual circumstances the human psyche 'produces' disturbing physical phenomenon. Psycho somatic physical illnesses are another example of this.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12975382358013125434 Murfomurf

    I have had oil appear through paint on the walls of my house in several places, in the shape of a cross. These patches and lines were due to the plasterer (who filled in the grooves after power cables were extended for switches) using a linseed oil-based filler instead of a plasticised one. The crosses "weeping" oil may have surprised any roman catholics who came to our house, but we figured it out shortly after it started during our first summer here!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00956794093145514574 Der Wolfanwalt

    Interesting. Father, could you recommend any particular writers or resources on that subject? I haven't ever run into that precise explanation before.Also, Murfomurf, that's a very intriguing explanation. Goes to show you need to keep your eyes open.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06962374096401238994 shadowlands

    The tests done by scientists on the oil in this house have failed to identify it's type.They are, to put it mildly, flummoxed!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00313901167560150641 snafu

    So we should examine the oil and find out if there is any rational explanation.Absolutely. But what if you don't trust the authority doing the investigation? In several years observing Catholic miracles (even approved ones), I don't recall ever seeing real data released for independent scrutiny. The best we get is books written (typically) by pious Catholics after the event offering what I suspect might be biased accounts of the events. Along similar lines, modern miracle claims almost always involve miraculous healings, conveniently from diseases such as cancer where spontaneous remission, although rare, is documented.Where's the killer irrefutable evidence for people who don't already believe?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00956794093145514574 Der Wolfanwalt

    I suppose the question becomes, Snafu, whether these sorts of things – if real they indeed be – are intended for the mass of skeptics, or whether their audience is of a more pre-established pious variety?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00313901167560150641 snafu

    Indeed. But if the audience is not intended to include non-believers, what of the groaning weight of apologetic literature (online, and in paper form), all attesting to the real manifestation of miraculous events, all claiming that the evidence is so strong it's verging on the undeniable?What of academic philosophy of religion that routinely claims a valid "argument from miracles" in its armoury?Are all these things aimed at believers (or near-believers) only?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00956794093145514574 Der Wolfanwalt

    I think all these things are realistically a reinforcement of a faith that antedates them. It may not be large; it may not even really be recognized as faith; but there must at least be some sort of willingness to believe before they are truly effective.When God informs Abraham that his wife will bear him a son, Abraham believes and it is credited to him as righteousness. If faith were something for which irrefutable arguments could be made, then it would not really be faith in the sense we mean. I think of it as being much the same as Aquinas' "proofs" for the existence of God. They're really only proofs if you already accept at least the possibility of God. I don't believe that you can definitively prove God to an atheist. Only God can do that.

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11323847795841929586 newtaste

    Overnight George Tannous was charged with over an alleged credit fraud scam. Let's see how he explains this.

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