Last of two parts
Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And the woman’s daughter was healed from that hour.
— The Gospel of Saint Matthew, 15:28
Marvelous miracles are supposed to kindle faith, as the first part last Sunday expounded in several of the dozens of apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary over the centuries across the globe.
But as our Gospel reading today proclaims, belief can also herald marvels. The Canaanite woman sought Jesus’ aid for her daughter “tormented by the demon” (there are tormenting devils, by the way, as we will discuss next week).
The Lord said He was sent only to “the house of Israel,” but the woman pleaded, totally believing in His power, though she was not a Jew. For her faith, the Lord granted her wish: “Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was promptly healed.
Believe and see
The late chronicler of Catholic miracles, Joan Carroll Cruz, wrote separate books on various objects of adoration or veneration — the Holy Eucharist, images of Jesus and Mary, the actions of saints, and even their mortal remains — which have brought forth inexplicable marvels:
“Eucharistic Miracles,” “Miraculous Images of Our Lord,” “Miraculous Images of Our Lady,” “Mysteries, Marvels, Miracles in the Lives of the Saints:, and “The Incorruptibles: A Study of the Incorruption of the Bodies of Various Catholic Saints and Beati.”
Strangely, however, in a world agog over superheroes, fantasy worlds and science fiction, enthralling aficionados for hours on film, video, gaming, and online posts — there is little awareness or interest in marvels even more amazing for being true.
The reason, of course, is the anti-miracle bias spawned by modern science, which demands that everything undergo scientific verification, even phenomena that require other ways of ascertaining truth, including the miracles God performs to strengthen faith.
Even the Catholic Church gives little attention to miracles in our time, possibly due to the disdain that modern man and media accord such beliefs. Indeed, when was the last time one heard a mass homily or parish talk citing miracles other than those in the Bible?
But these events are part of what the Church has affirmed. Believers are then pressed to take one of two perspectives: one that believes in a Supreme Being able to act outside nature, and another that insists only scientifically proven factors and forces are at work.
Today, only the second is acceptable to our modern world, even if it cannot explain countless events, including the miracles painstakingly recounted by Cruz from mainly impartial accounts, or affirmed by the Vatican after careful investigation using both favorable and unfavorable evidence.
People can argue endlessly which view is true, but both sides agree there is no absolute proof that God does or does not exist. One cannot deny, however, is that inexplicable things happened till our own time, calling on us to believe or deny the Lord behind them.
This article will cite miracles attributed to images of the Blessed Virgin. Future columns will cover amazing events recounted in the other Cruz books on the Holy Eucharist, images of Jesus Christ, saints, and their mortal remains.
In all these accounts, just think that maybe, just maybe, God wants our attention and faith.
See and believe
Among the most famous Marian images is that of Our Lady of Guadalupe, imprinted on the cape of Saint Juan Diego in 1531. Its miraculous qualities were discussed in the first part last Sunday. And surely, the greatest wonder attributed to its graces is the conversion of 10 million inhabitants of Mexico from their indigenous Aztec religion.
Even better known and more widely venerated is the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, to which Wednesday novenas are offered in churches worldwide. Already venerated in Crete long before its first historical mention in 1495, devotion to the image of Our Mother of Perpetual Help has grown over the centuries for countless cures and favors granted to devotees.
Housewife-writer Cruz covered 100 Catholic portraits and statues in her book. The most are the 27 in Italy, 14 in Mexico, 12 in France, nine in Belgium and six in Spain. Two are in the Philippines: Our Lady of the Rosary, better known as La Naval for the victory of a Spanish-Filipino fleet against a far superior Dutch armada in 1646; and Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage in Antipolo, credited with Pacific voyages between 1648 and 1748, and the subsiding of a 19th Century epidemic.
Closer to our time, in 1973, was Our Lady of Akita manifested in a wooden statue carved by a Buddhist. On several occasions, the image shed tears, bled in the right hand, and became moist all over with a liquid found to be a human secretion.
In this apparition, the Blessed Virgin also imparted messages to Japanese Sister Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa, echoing those of Fatima: “[If] men do not repent and better themselves, the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity… The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops opposing bishops.”
For non-believers and even many faithful, tales don’t suffice. These Thomases want to see before believing. They should go to Santuario Madonna de Buon Consiglio in Genazzano, eastern Italy.
Its image of Our Lady of Good Counsel, painted on thin plaster or porcelain measuring 15.5 by 17.5 inches, is encased in framed glass. The fresco’s bottom edge touches the base of the case, but no other part is in contact with anything but air.
In short, the 15th Century image, credited with hundreds of recorded miracles and said to have floated over the Adriatic from Scutari, Albania, to Genazzano, levitates in mid-air.
See and believe.
(Ric Saludo gives Fatima talks in America on Sept. 16-31. Interested groups may email firstname.lastname@example.org.)