The Personalist Project

If God can do miracles, why doesn't He just do them all the time? If curing one blind or lame or leprous man is good, wouldn't curing all of us of everything be better?

One angle, of course, is that the real point is not to relieve this or that short-term, finite, bodily suffering but to provide evidence that God is who He says He is. When the Messiah came, the blind would see, the lame would walk, and the deaf would hear. He came, they did, and the door to salvation was opened. He does wish to rescue us from this-worldly troubles, but mostly He wants to save us from something far worse. Miracles facilitate faith.

This makes sense to me, but in my own experience of miracles--examples in a minute--what's gained is not just knowledge of the proposition God exists, but something much more personal.

Here are some examples of everyday miracles I've experienced:

  • On a visit to Fatima, Portugal, pregnant, ravenous, and crabby, I trudged into the church and prayed to be in a more fitting state of mind. Immediately, I felt peace and also, entirely unexpectedly, the certainty that the baby I was carrying was a girl (she was) and that her name was Miriam Fatima (it is).
  • As a mother of seventeen young children under five (technically, three children, but that's how I remember it), I once prayed to Blessed Alvaro del Portillo to improve their behavior. He answered the prayer by not changing their behavior in the least but shifting something in me so that I suddenly saw everything they did as hilarious and endearing instead of aggravating.
  • Just the other day, (through nobody's fault but my own), I missed a flight. The agents informed me laconically that it was the last flight of the day and that there was no way to refund the hundreds of dollars in question or even to avoid paying hundreds more for a different flight. Recalling that the next day was Our Lady of Fatima's feast day, I prayed, mechanically and hopelessly, for some kind of miracle. But really, what could possibly happen? Was the same, unsympathetic ticket agent about to walk over and inform me that as a courtesy United had decided to waive all fees, and then perhaps inquire what time would be most convenient for me to fly the following day?

A few minutes later, that's just what happened.

  • A few years ago, God arranged what I could only describe as a "millenia-long, intersecting arrangement of ancient poetry, insect behavior, junk-food marketing strategy, and liturgical rhythms," just to entertain me with a silly pun and make me feel welcome (you can click on the link to read the details).
  • This last one happened not to me, but to a Lebanese priest named Fr. Antonio: He was discerning, or trying hard to avoid discerning, a vocation to be a monk. More or less reconciled to the idea, he still had one problem: he was very attached to his chicken-raising. Finally he gave in and admitted glumly that, after all, God's will was more important than a bunch of chickens. He presented himself at the Abbey, and the brother who opened the door greeted him with, "Welcome! We're putting you in charge of the chickens!" And thus he became the caretaker of a far larger flock than he'd ever had in the old days.

Do you see the common thread? 

Miracles like this are not about providing evidence for the proposition that God exists, or leading the intellect to assent to this proposition in order to gain some advantage. Instead, there's a quirky sense of humor and an enormous and very imaginative effort to customize events so that the benefactee is practically forced to admit--well, what, exactly? Not so much that Someone is up there, but that Someone up there must take a very particular interest in me and be willing to go to a lot of trouble to make sure I know it.

You'd almost think He was a Person.

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