- Slides: 13
Miracles Recent miracles?
The word 'miracle'. . . We use the word 'miracle' in many situations. . . “It will be a miracle if I pass this exam. ” “Miracle survival for skydiver with faulty parachute” “She's worked miracles with the garden – it used to be such a dump. ” The word 'miracle' in a religious setting has a different meaning. . .
What does 'miracle' mean? Miracle is from the Latin 'miraculum'= 'object of wonder' Old English 'wundorweorc'='wonder-work'. The Greek words (translated as miracle in Bibles) were 'semeion'= 'sign' 'teras'='wonder' 'dynamis'= 'power'
So what do Christians mean by ‘miracle’? Incredible coincidence? Something that is extremely unlikely? Magic? A divine act for some good purpose in which the laws of nature as we know them are overridden
Lourdes, in southern France, is a major centre of Christian pilgrimage. In 1858, Bernadette Soubirous, a young village girl experienced 18 visions of 'a lady dressed in white' – Mary, the Immaculate Conception. From the first days, the Grotto where the visions occurred, became a centre of healings. Many thousands of miraculous cures have been reported; only a small number have been accepted by the Church as miraculous in character. The Grotto in Lourdes
Miracle? Case Study 1 John (Jack) Traynor Terrible war injuries Shrapnel to head, body shot through, totally immobilised … Full army pension certified by three doctors Visited Lourdes – healed & returned to work His right arm which was like a skeleton has recovered all its muscles. The hole near his temple has completely disappeared … the instant repair of the brain injuries as is proved by the sudden and definite disappearance of the paralysis of both legs and of the epileptic attacks
Case Study 1 continued Before. . . After. . . • Completely and permanently disabled • Completely cured • Inch-wide hole in skull covered by metal plate to shield pulsating brain • Severe epilepsy • Multiple organ impairment • Had had several operations, none of which had been successful • Seemed to be dying when he arrived in Lourdes on 22 July 1923 • “I am in the haulage business now. About a dozen men work for me. I lift sacks of coal weighing 200 pounds, and I can do any work that an able-bodied man can do. ” Jack Traynor in 1937 • Died in 1943 of a hernia, completely unrelated to his war wounds
Case Study 2: Jean-Pierre Bely Diagnosed with MS in 1972 Progressive, wasting disease, no known cure In 1987, Mr. Bely was awarded a 100% invalidity pension with an allowance for a third person During a pilgrimage to Lourdes, he regained completely his normal functions, in a sudden, unexpected and unforeseen way on Friday 9 th. October 1987 12 years later Church recognised the healing as miraculous It is possible to conclude with a good margin of probability that Mr. BÉLY suffered an organic infection of the type Multiple Sclerosis in a severe and advanced stage of which the sudden cure during a pilgrimage to Lourdes corresponds with an unusual and inexplicable fact to all the knowledge of science. It is impossible to say any more today in medical science. Medical Assessment
Case Study 3: Our Lady of Guadalupe Juan Diego, a 16 th C. native central American had an unusual experience Its lasting effect is a picture, claimed to be miraculous, of a woman, Mary, at prayer This image has defied scientific explanation
Juan Diego's experience On December 9, 1531, Juan Diego rose before dawn to walk to daily Mass in what is now Mexico City. That morning, as Juan passed Tepeyac Hill, he heard music and saw a glowing cloud encircled by a rainbow. A woman's voice called him to the top of the hill. There he saw a beautiful young woman dressed like an Aztec princess. She said she was the Virgin Mary and asked Juan to tell the bishop to build a church on that site. . The bishop was kind but sceptical. He asked Juan to bring proof of the Lady's identity. . The Lady then told Juan to climb to the top of the hill where they first met. Juan was shocked to find flowers growing in the frozen soil. He gathered them in his cloak and took them at once to the bishop. Juan told the bishop what had happened and opened his cloak. But the bishop's eyes were on the glowing image of the Lady imprinted inside Juan's cloak.
Mysterious Painting The image shows no sign of deterioration after 450 years. The tilma or cloak of Saint Juan Diego on which the image of Our Lady has been imprinted, is a coarse fabric made from the threads of cactus. This fibre disintegrates within 20 -60 years! Microscopic examination revealed that there were no brush strokes. It's proved very difficult to use paint or photos to get anything like the same effect – especially on rough cloth.
Mysterious eyes … The eyes, when highly magnified, show some interesting shapes. Are these the reflections of the people gathered around?
Questions. . . Do Catholics have to accept these cases as miraculous? No. They are obliged to accept the works of Jesus as miraculous. Is the Church quick to claim that unusual events are miraculous? No. The Church subjects claims to rigorous scientific checks. For example, the Jack Traynor cure has not been accepted (or rejected) by the Church. Because of the circumstances at the time, it wasn't possible to conduct a full investigation. Why are Catholic 'miracles' linked with Mary; what about Jesus? There a number of Catholic pilgrimage places connected with visions of Jesus. But this is not a competition. Mary shows us the way to Jesus, her son. She is also the woman of the Apocalypse, who heralds the victory of Jesus over evil. A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. (Revelations 12: 1)