|Miracles for Skeptics|
|Written by Michael Fones|
|Tuesday, 01 May 2007 09:33|
John Carroll, a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, has a reflection on the cure of Sr.
Marie-Simon-Pierre, a nun in France who suffered from Parkinson's disease, prayed for the intercession of Pope John Paul II after his death, and received an "inexplicable" cure, according to Vatican medical experts. Now Mr. Carroll is a bit of a skeptic when it comes to this miracle. He believes there are political motives behind it, and that inexplicable things happen all the time, like his finding of a much-needed plastic cutting board on his morning walk by the beach.
The problem is, Mr. Carroll defines miracles in a rather unusual way. Finding the cutting board was a coincidence, and inexplicable. A miracle, he says, would be if the cutting board began to float and speak Sanskrit.
Unfortunately, that's not what Catholics expect with a miracle. According to the old Catholic Encyclopedia, there are different types of miracles,
"A miracle is said to be above nature when the effect produced is above the native powers and forces in creatures of which the known laws of nature are the expression, as raising a dead man to life, e.g., Lazarus (John 11), the widow's son (1 Kings 17). A miracle is said to be outside, or beside, nature when natural forces may have the power to produce the effect, at least in part, but could not of themselves alone have produced it in the way it was actually brought about. Thus the effect in abundance far exceeds the power of natural forces, or it takes place instantaneously without the means or processes which nature employs. In illustration we have the multiplication of loaves by Jesus (John 6), the changing of water into wine at Cana (John 2) -- for the moisture of the air by natural and artificial processes is changed into wine -- or the sudden healing of a large extent of diseased tissue by a draught of water. A miracle is said to be contrary to nature when the effect produced is contrary to the natural course of things."
Mr. Carroll is limiting miracles to events that are contrary to nature, since it's not within a normal cutting board's nature to either fly (unless I throw it at someone complaining about my cooking) or to speak Sanskrit.
Miracles come in all sizes, one could say. I've had the privilege to witness a few. My cat Momma Kitty (God bless her) used to come running when I called for her. Perhaps a small miracle outside nature, that!
Conversion of a great sinner is perhaps one of the greatest miracles of all, and one which we all should pray to experience personally.
hat tip - Patricia Armstrong