Miracles, signs, and wonders

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The Church dogmatically defines only one miracle: that Jesus rose from the dead. That is the cornerstone of Christianity. If He did rise from the dead, that suggests that all of the other miracles attributed to Him in the New Testament and in the history of the Church are possible in principle; if He did not rise from the dead, we are still dead in our sins and it does not matter to us whether any of the other miracles attributed to Him really happened.

We are saved by the death and resurrection of Jesus, which the apostles witnessed. The Church is built on the foundation of the apostles. We have no time machine that will allow us to see Jesus' death and resurrection for ourselves so that we can evaluate the apostolic tradition objectively. Nor is Jesus volunteering to live in a Resurrection laboratory where anyone who wants to verify His resurrection for themselves can kill Him and watch to see that He Himself rises from the dead; one offering of Himself on the Cross was sufficient for all sinful human beings at all times and in all places.

Either we take the word of the apostles about the miracle of our salvation or we don't. There are no other choices.

Disputed stories

Creation in Six Days

Dinosaurs & Humans

Noah's Flood

Jonah's Fish

Crossing the Red Sea

The Bible gives conflicting accounts of the crossing of the Red Sea. One of them says, "Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the LORD swept the sea with a strong east wind throughout the night and so turned it into dry land" (Ex 14:21). The other account says that the waters split into two: "But the Israelites had marched on dry land through the midst of the sea, with the water like a wall to their right and to their left" (Ex 14:29).

We are not saved by the Red Sea miracle. I don't care which story is historically correct. Both are in the Scriptures; people may believe one or the other or both.

Loaves and fishes

Psychosomatic healings

The limited range of miracles

It seems to me that, as a general rule, the person who knows best that a miracle happened is the person who is the subject of the miracle. Everyone else has to take that person's word about what really happened.

There is nothing stronger than the word of the recipient of the miracle. Photography won't do--we know how easy it is to fake photographs! Nor will the opinions of medical experts; their judgment is not infallible, and doctors disagree with doctors all the time.

There is no miracle that can change the mind of a committed atheist. Regardless of the evidence presented, the atheist must say, "Because there is no God and no supernatural order, what happened is either a magic trick, a hallucination, or a natural event whose causes we have not yet defined scientifically. Strange things do happen. Sometimes diseases disappear and bodies heal themselves in a rapid fashion, but we do not need to invoke anything more wonderful than nature to explain those effects."

Thaumaturges

"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" (John 14:12).

NT Jesus:
  • Drove out demons.
  • Cured the sick, made the lame walk, the deaf hear, the blind see.
  • Raised the dead to life.
  • Walked on the water.
  • Calmed the storm.
  • Multiplied the loaves and fish.
  • Cursed the fig tree.
  • Predicted His suffering, death, and resurrection.
  • Was transfigured with glory.
  • Rose from the dead.
  • Entered locked rooms.
  • Ascended into Heaven as his disciples watched Him depart.
1st St. Peter and St. Paul
2nd
3rd Gregory Thaumaturgus, converted by Origen.
4th St. Nicholas of Myra (270-343 AD), Wonderworker.
5th
6th St. Brigit of Kildare (Mary of the Gaels).
7th
8th
9th
10th
11th
12th
13th St. Anthony of Padua, OFM.
14th
15th St. Vincent Ferrer, OP.
16th
17th
18th St. Gerard Majella, CSSR--Redemptorist lay brother.
19th
  • Remains of St. Philomena found. On Jan. 13, 1837, Pope Gregory XVI named St. Philomena Patroness of the Living Rosary, and declared her to be the "Thaumaturga," the "Great Wonder-Worker of the nineteenth century." In a solemn decree, he raised her to the altar of the Church, granting her a special feast day (August 11) and a Mass in her honor. Buried circa 150-100 AD. There are doubts about whether the remains of her grave establish beyond reasonable doubt that she was, in fact, a martyr.[1]
  • St. John Vianney, "Curé d'Ars."
20th Padre Pio, O.F.M. Cap.

References

  1. Catholic Encyclopedia, "St. Philomena."