Background: Miraculous Signs?
Let’s start by looking at what the bible tells us about saints and miracles.
- “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to the Father. John 14:12
- Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw Acts 8:13
- God did extraordinary miracles through Paul so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured, and the evil spirits left them.
- “And I will grant wonders in the sky above and signs on the earth below,” Acts 2:19
So, it is clear that miracles like the countless miracles that Jesus performed were being performed by his apostles (followers and imitators) after his resurrection.
First a miracle is a wonderful unexpected supernatural event attributed to divine intervention. It is a perceptible interruption of the laws of nature It is above, contrary to, and outside nature. It is when the impossible happens.
How do you verify a miracle?
The paradox of human miracle assessment is that the only way to discern whether a phenomenon is supernatural is by having trained rationalists testify that it outstrips their training. Since most wonders admitted by the modern church are medical cures, it consults with doctors. The Vatican has access to a pool of 60 covering all the medical branches.
Lourdes Example: The Lourdes International Medical Committee [CMIL], a consultation committee made up of some 20 permanent members, doctors from hospitals all over Europe, meets once a year to examine the more serious dossiers.
Of some 50 cases reported every year, about five are studying at length. The members of CMIL do the work of experts, which consists of analyzing the information contained in the dossiers.
The scientific aspect must be distinguished from the spiritual. The cure must exceed the known laws of the illness’ evolution, and the person who has experienced the miracle must also recognize the spiritual meaning of the event.
For the cure to be recognized as a miracle, it must fulfill seven criteria established in the 1700s by Pope Benedict XIV.
- It is necessary to verify the existence of the illness,
- Which must be serious,
- With an irrevocable prognosis. (All treatments failed)
- The illness must be organic or caused by injuries.
- There must be no treatment at the root of the cure.
- The latter must be sudden and instantaneous.
- Finally, the renewal of functions must be total and lasting, without convalescence.
For this reason, the recognition of a miracle takes several years. Once we have recognized it, the cure is published by the bishop of the diocese where the person resides who experienced the miracle.
For example, Leukemia remissions are not considered until they have lasted a decade. A cure attributable to human effort, however, prayed for, is insufficient. “Sometimes we have cases that you could call exceptional, but that’s not enough.” “Exceptional doesn’t mean inexplicable.”