Tag Archives: miracles

WHAT TO SEE: Miracles

Ignatius Press
Run time: 35 minutes

This documentary attempts to explain what miracles are and what they are not, and the attitude we should have toward them. Using wonderful images of the natural world and insightful commentary by leading Catholics, such as Father Marcus Holden, director of the Maryvale Institute, Fr. Andrew Pinsent from Oxford, attorney Jamie Bogle and his wife, journalist Joanna Bogle, this educational video accomplishes much in a short time. It highlights miracles found in Scripture, the miracles of Christ, and miracles attributed to saints. It also presents the incorruptibles, such as St. Bernadette, and concludes with Eucharistic miracles, the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima, and the many scientifically verified miracles that have occurred at the Shrine of Lourdes. This is a beautiful film that demonstrates how God shares his power with us.

TIM DRAKE is a Legatus magazine staff writer.

Exploring the Miraculous

Michael O’Neill
Our Sunday Visitor, 2016
224 pages, paperback $19.95

Christians — and many non-Christians — are fascinated by the miraculous. O’Neill — known as “The Miracle Hunter” — takes readers on a tour of miracles large and small, answering some burning questions: Are miracles important? How does the Church validate miracles? What do miraculous cures have to do with canonization? Do saints perform miracles?

The devout Catholic and Stanford-trained mechanical engineer took an interest in miracles from a young age due to his mother’s interest in Our Lady of Guadalupe. His attention to detail shows in this thoroughly researched book, which enlightens and fascinates, but most of all points readers to Christ.

OrderAmazonOur Sunday Visitor

A God of miracles

Patrick Novecosky writes that God’s biggest miracles are happening right now . . .

Patrick Novecosky

Patrick Novecosky

I keep a running list of story ideas for this magazine on my computer. Several times a month I’ll hear — from a Legate, our executive director or a regional director — about how God is working in the lives of Legatus members.

When it came time to plan this issue — our annual Catholic health care issue — I looked at my list and realized I had four or five stories of miraculous healings. We feature two of them in this magazine (Miracle Man, Liberating Freedom). My initial thought was to combine them into one big story, but each of the stories is so powerful and so soaked with the Holy Spirit that we couldn’t possibly do them justice without telling their stories individually.

You may have noticed that such miracles are plentiful. Just as there are more martyrs in our day than ever before, there is an abundance of authenticated miracles. Just last month, a Vatican medical panel unanimously approved a reported miracle attributed to Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s intercession. In 2010, James Fulton Engstrom was delivered stillborn. The baby showed no signs of life as medical professionals tried to revive him, but his parents asked for Sheen’s intercession and the baby lived. After looking at the evidence, the panel concluded that there was no natural explanation for the child being alive.

I don’t know about you, but I still find it odd when people are shocked by such inexplicable healings and people coming back from the dead. Despite all the miracles Jesus performed while he walked the earth, he told his followers that the best was yet to come: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do — and will do greater ones than these — because I am going to the Father. And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:12-13).

We who profess Christ in a post-Christian culture often feel like we’re living in the desert, especially as we journey through Lent. But the Lord is a God of wonders and miracles beyond all explanation. Why? Because of His radical love for each and every one of us.

Despite our sin and unworthiness, Jesus not only died on the cross for us, but he journeys with us through life. He takes each step right beside us, calling us to a deeper relationship with him. And once in a while the veil between heaven and earth parts and miracles happen — every single day.

PATRICK NOVECOSKY is Legatus magazine’s editor-in-chief.

God’s gift of healing, given to all of us

Bishop Jacobs says the spiritual gift of healing is not limited to medical professionals . . .

Bishop Sam Jacobs

Bishop Sam Jacobs

I am happy to start off this new Faith Matters column for Legatus magazine. I’ll focus on the gift of healing, not the natural gift or the gift that comes from years of practice, but the spiritual gift from God.

Though this gift of healing is not limited to those in the medical profession, it’s definitely one that those who are practicing medicine can truly exercise as part of their service to their patients.

In his ministry — not as a professional doctor, but as a minister to people — Jesus frequently exercised this gift in his humanity. He told his disciples to do what he did. They in turn, in their humanity, through the power of the Holy Spirit, laid hands on the sick and prayed in the name of Jesus for their healing. This gift of healing has continued in the life of the Church over the centuries.

It’s this gift that I want to reflect on. As I mentioned, there is a natural, human gift of healing and a spiritual gift of healing. They are not in opposition. Both are given by God for the benefit of his people. There are times when the natural gift is sufficient to care for the immediate need of the patient. But there are other times that God desires us to exercise the spiritual gift of healing both for the good of the patient and His greater glory.

What is needed is the exercise of another gift: discernment. This enables us to know what is needed in the current situation. Those in the medical profession have many opportunities to exercise this spiritual gift of healing because of their personal contact with those who are sick. It can be done with the patient’s consent or just quietly as the doctor examines the person.

What would happen if, as a Catholic physician, you would pray before seeing a patient and pray silently for wisdom and discernment while examining the person? Is it possible for you to have a greater insight into the situation? What would happen if, after natural remedies do not seem to make a difference, you would ask the patient if they would allow you to pray over them asking God’s healing love to minister to them as well?

This is the additional gift Catholic health care can offer for the patient’s benefit. Obviously, we must be always respectful to the patient, but always ready to acknowledge that God desires to minister to the patient in his great love and healing. Doctors can bring this witness to the medical world, which may help to influence the medical culture. But again, I want to emphasize that we must always be respectful and not impose something upon them. There is nothing wrong with praying for them without them knowing that you’re doing it.

This spiritual gift of healing is not limited to the medical profession. As individuals, we often find members of our family having serious medical problems which the doctors are having a hard time alleviating. While not discontinuing medical treatment, we have the opportunity to “soak” the person in God’s healing love.

There are many testimonies of dramatic healings taking place through people, in faith, praying over another through the laying on of hands, invoking the healing power of God to make a difference in the person’s condition. (Click for a related story of miraculous healing.) God calls us to be visible witnesses and instruments of his healing power.

This gift is not limited to only a few people. All of us, by virtue of the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, have been granted this and other gifts of the Holy Spirit. What is lacking many times is the ability to step out in faith and exercise this gift for the other.

An additional thought: We may not see the healing, but many times other healings are taking place, according to the will of God for the person. We may pray for a person’s physical healing of cancer, but God may desire, through our prayer, the healing of a spiritual cancer within the person — namely sin, which is eternally deadly. We are not the healer, only the instrument. God is the healer of body and soul. He calls us to share in his healing ministry through prayer, faith and the laying on of hands for the sick.

BISHOP SAM JACOBS is the bishop emeritus of the Houma-Thibodaux diocese. He has served as Legatus’ international chaplain since 2009.

Amazing phenomenon

Mysterious signs are not the basis of our faith, but rather should help affirm it . . . 

A consecrated host in Buenos Aires falls to the ground during Communion and is placed in water so that it can dissolve. Several days later, it has not dissolved and red stains have formed on it. The stains are tested and identified as human heart tissue.

A saintly priest mysteriouly acquires the wounds of Christ known as the stigmata and bears them throughout his lifetime. Witnesses claim he can bilocate and read souls. When his body is exhumed 40 years after his death, it is found to be mostly incorrupt.

Type a few key words from any of these accounts into your favorite internet search engine and you’ll get the full story about each one. But are these things true? And, if so, what do they have to do with the Catholic faith?

Miracles and hoaxes

As any Catholic knows, miraculous occurrences have been part of Christianity since the days when Christ healed the sick, turned water into wine and multiplied a small cache of loaves and fishes to feed thousands.

Miracles have occurred throughout Church history — from apparitions of the Blessed Mother to saints who bore the stigmata and whose bodies were found to be incorrupt after death. Recent examples of these phenomena involve St. Pio of Pietrelcina — better known as Padre Pio — who died in 1968 and was canonized in 2002.

Jimmy Akin

Jimmy Akin

Not every miraculous occurrence, however, is authentic and from God. Jimmy Akin, senior apologist with Catholic Answers, said it’s important to distinguish between paranormal phenomena of divine origin and those that might come from another source, such as Satan.

“Certain tests can be used,” he said. “Sometimes this is difficult to apply, but if a paranormal phenomenon endorses ideas contrary to the Catholic faith, then it’s not coming from God. If it seems to have a tendency to corrupt the morals of individuals rather than build them up, it’s also a sign that this is not from God.

“Things can also be produced by the imagination, they can be misperceptions of things thought to be supernatural when they are not,” Akin explained. “And then there are outright hoaxes.”

For example, Fr. Benedict Groeschel, a psychologist and author of several books on extraordinary phenomena, told Legatus Magazine that he has examined five reported cases of people who thought they might have the stigmata. In one case, he said, the wounds seemed to have been selfinflicted, and he determined it was a fraud. The other four looked more like blood blisters than the open wounds associated with authentic stigmata.

“The Church is very matter-of-fact when it comes to these things,” said Fr. Thomas Euteneuer, an exorcist and president of Human Life International. “It goes back to 1 Jn 4:1, which says, ‘Beloved, do not trust every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.’

“The Church follows that advice and asks the individual faithful to be very circumspect about spiritual things so they don’t fall into either superstition or the occult; and then the Church herself very seriously tests all alleged supernatural phenomena in order to protect the faithful.”

Even when the Church authenticates supernatural occurrences, it does not require that Catholics believe in them.

Father John Trigilio, co-author of The Catholicism Answer Book, said approved phenomena are merely there to help one’s faith. “The caution on the part of the Church when they investigate these things — besides authenticating them — is that they don’t want that to become a person’s principle of faith, that they believe because of these things.”

Extraordinary graces like the gift of miracles “are oriented toward sanctifying grace and are intended for the common good of the Church. They are at the service of charity which builds up the Church” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #2003).


Furthermore, even when a supernatural phenomenon is determined by the Church to be the real thing, it can take years to authenticate.

Maureen Digan

Maureen Digan

Maureen Digan was healed of Milroy disease (lymphedema) while praying at the tomb of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska in 1981. But her cure was not accepted as a miracle until 1992.

“They didn’t even start investigating until five years after it occurred,” Digan said, who hails from Lee, Mass. Digan was examined by five different physicians, whose testimony was submitted to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The cure was accepted as a miracle and led to St. Faustina’s beatification in 1993.

Digan said that when she was healed, she felt an instant change in her leg. (She already had lost one leg to lymphedema, which causes swelling from excess fluid in the tissues.) At Faustina’s tomb, she said, “All of a sudden, I could feel the leg changing.”

However, Digan didn’t want to examine her leg right away, and waited until she was back in her room. When she did, the leg looked normal and the swelling and pain were gone. The next day, Digan showed it to her husband, Bob, who smiled and said, “We came here for a healing. You’ve been healed.”

Someone who thinks he’s experienced a miraculous occurrence should first “calm down,” Fr. Groeschel advised. Secondly, he should seek out a serious, prudent person for advice. Often, he said, unusual phenomena can be brought on by a person who is under pressure.

In his book A Still, Small Voice, Fr. Groeschel cautions that religious people often have a tendency to look for signs, but that most authentic visions occurred to simple people, usually children, who were not seeking them.

The best kind of religious experience, he writes, is found in reading of the gospel and in the example of those who care for the poor. “It brings together the ordinary events of life and transfuses them with the light of divine grace given through the gospel, the Church and the sacraments.”

Father Trigilio observed that Catholics looking for a genuine miraculous experience need look no further than Mass.

“Even if it is true that Mary is appearing somewhere, the greatest miracle is the Mass — the substantial truth of the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ,” he said. “It pleases the Lord more that we go to Mass every chance we get. That’s the biggest miracle of all, done by Christ himself.”

Judy Roberts is a Legatus Magazine staff writer.