When I was a little girl one of the things that really intrigued me about the Catholic church was miracles. I’ve read all about them from Saint Bernadette to weeping statues to crosses of light. An Australian nun, Mary MacKillop, who founded the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart is said to have performed a miracle. The miracle occurred in 1961 when a woman dying of cancer recovered after praying to Mary MacKillop. This miracle has been recognised as such by the Vatican and on January 19, 1995, Mary MacKillop was beatified.
And now it’s possible that another miracle has occurred. If it turns out to be a miracle Mary MacKillop will be on her way to becoming a Saint.
An Irish tourist was bashed almost beyond recognition in Sydney 7 months ago. His family took him home to Ireland and prayed every day to Mary MacKillop. He was given a very small chance of recovery. Well, now he has wakened from the coma. Read about it here. His parents believe Mary MacKillop saved him.
So this story really has got me wondering about miracles. A friend of mine said the other day that she didn’t believe in miracles, that we create our own fate and that believing in miracles is akin to thinking you have fairies at the bottom of your garden.
I think she is on to something in a way. I have always been fascinated by fairies, witches, ghosts. The supernatural. The paranormal. The unexplained. To me miracles are as intriguing as any of those things. Maybe miracles are identifiable proof of the afterlife. Maybe they are the first link in the psychic phenomena chain.
The Catholic Church defines a miracle as –
An event beyond the power of any creature. It cannot be produced by any human power—physical, emotional or mental. It happens in a religious setting and can be recognized as intended by God to be a sign. When someone claims a miracle, it must be proven that there is no natural explanation.
Why does that definition give me a sense of the vastness of the universe?
I have always wanted to believe that there is more to life than just the bare bones of perception. I have always wanted to believe in something akin to magic. I wonder how scientists, aetheists, sceptics, cynics, agnostics would react to evidence of a miracle. I wonder if it is naive of me to feel a surge of excitement at the possibility of a miracle just as I would if someone told me those psychics on TV are really speaking to dead people.
There are lots of things in life that are unexplainable, that are possibly quite irrational. The power of prayer is one. A lot of us pray. We might not think we do it in a religious sense but our daily affirmations, mantras, rituals are a form of prayer.
I have seen people recover from illness as a result of prayer. I have seen people become really successful using techniques like creative visualisation (which really is just a form of prayer). I have seen people make offerings to whoever their god might be when times were bleak and I have seen their hope grow.
And I can’t really explain why it happens.
The more devout among you would say that it is the power of God. Others would say it is an aftereffect of faith. Others would say it is the power of the human spirit, the power of positivity.
I would say it is a sign, a suggestion that there is more to life than meets the eye, and that it is very important to keep an open mind. Always.
Sometimes the night seems darker than it ever has before. We worry about recession, the threat of war, illness, global warming. The thought of a miracle is like a friendly smile on a cold, grey day. I am like Keats, sometimes weary of city life:
” To one who has been long in city pent
‘Tis very sweet to look into the fair
And open face of heaven.”
The whisper of a miracle fills the day with golden light.
I wonder if I’m clutching at straws in wanting to believe. Yet, I can’t seem to help myself.
So what do you think? Are there such things as miracles?