Miracles are an incredible testament of faith to us as we navigate the complexities of our everyday lives. We hear of incredible healings and miraculous conversions, and are encouraged and bolstered in the practice of faith. The church is incredibly accepting and supportive of miracles, so why does it follow such a strict practice for accepting their validity? Why does the church support science and the role of medical healing? Aren’t those positions contradictory to a doctrine of miracles?
The short answer to these questions, as we wrap up our message series on the power of miracles in our lives, is that the church recognizes that life and faith are intertwined; after all, we are called to live lives of faith (we are not called simply to “live” or to “have faith”). Catholics and other religious people sometimes face skepticism or criticism while sharing their beliefs, because many people do not understand the church’s position on these complex cases.
Take, for example, what is referred to as “faith healing” — the practice of prayer and gestures, such as the laying on of hands, that are believed to elicit divine intervention in spiritual and physical healing. Catholics are in full support of these practices, engaging them in sacraments like the Anointing of the Sick. But, Catholics also believe in science and medical healing — no person trained in the faith would advise someone to go against sound medical advice in favor of waiting for “God’s healing,” which is the case in other faiths.
Catholics recognize two kinds of healing, which are not mutually-exclusive: one kind justified by science and one kind justified by faith. These healings, explained by different pieces of Catholic doctrine, work in concert with one another, just as our lives and our faith practices intertwine. One can be a good Catholic and believe in peer-reviewed, supported science; holding these beliefs in concert does not weaken either’s power.
In answer to the other concern, why the church cares so much about validating miracles, it is not because the church is eager to discredit people’s unique and powerful faith experiences. The church maintains strict approval standards because many outside the church, who do not experience an active engagement with the love of Christ, are eager to discredit people’s faith experiences. In order to maintain respect for Church teaching — a teaching that allows many people to experience the love of God in ways that they may not even realize — the church must be careful about the miracles it chooses to “accept.”
That being said, God’s movement in our lives is nothing short of miraculous. The fact that He would send His Son, Jesus Christ, to save us from sin and deliver us to eternal life, is truly awe-inspiring. No matter the way, shape, or form God chooses to move in your life, all experiences are valid and worthy of respect and thanksgiving. God is infinite, unlimited. The human experience is by definition limited — in time, space, and compassion. None of us really knows how God is working, but we all can benefit from the light of His love. Human definitions of miracles cannot limit the grace and power of God.
—Claire Kosewic, Staff Bulletin Writer
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