Miracles were not a topic I expected to surface during our parish mission last month. But Father Tim referenced them with easy comfort.
“I’ve seen so many miracles in my fifteen years here,” he said. “Changes of heart, real conversions.” What, he implied, could be more miraculous?
Which brings us to the subject of canonization.
Supernatural miracles, long required for canonized Catholic saints, have had a storied role in the history of sainthood. Post-death miracles were mandated as a way of verifying that the potential saint was a friend of God and not a fraud or magician, and that her current address was indeed heaven.
In the centuries prior to John Paul II’s papacy, at least four miracles were required for sainthood, but in 1983 the pope lowered the requirement to two: one to be beatified, and a second to become a canonized saint. (Martyrs need only one miracle total.)
Pope Francis has gone still further, lifting the requirement for a second miracle for Pope John XXIII and dispensing the miracle requirement entirely for three other new saints.
Might the Church be moving toward eliminating the requirement for miracles? I hope so, for both theological and practical reasons.
Continue reading Moving Away from Miracles
Today’s Gospel is a short one – and a challenging one too:
The Pharisees came forward and began to argue with Jesus,
seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him.
He sighed from the depth of his spirit and said,
“Why does this generation seek a sign?
Amen, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.”
Then he left them, got into the boat again,
and went off to the other shore.
What are we to make of this?
I think a helpful first move may be to put the terms “spirit” and “sign” alongside each other. Mark uses the classic “pneuma” for spirit: there is the sense that Jesus’ frustration stems from the very depths of his being. At the same time, Mark does not use the word for “sign” that is largely associated with miracles: he eschews “dynameis,” and instead uses “semeion.” Semeion has the sense of being just a sign: not something that necessarily points to something greater.*
Where I am going with this? I admit, I’m not particularly sure, but my initial inclination is that there is something here that may provide a very helpful meditation for our spiritual lives. The question, then, is this: have we plumbed the deeps of our relationship with God’s Christ, attempting to reach the place where the Word sighs, or are we looking for a surface relationship whereby we see great signs, but refuse to enter in the Pasch of that same Christ?