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In Theory

There is a movement to have Father Juniperro Serra certified as a saint by the Vatican. The one ‘miracle’ attributed to Serra occurred when a nun was cured of lupus after praying to him. Do you believe in miracles?

September 04, 2009

Yes, I believe in the veracity of Exodus’ account of a thorn bush that burned but was not consumed, of the plagues visited upon Egypt, of the parting of the Reed Sea, and of the daily supply of manna that sustained the Israelites in the wilderness. I believe in a God who is not limited by the laws of nature and who can suspend them at will. I believe in both overt miracles that reveal God’s mighty arm and concealed miracles that reflect his hidden hand.

Nature is no more than God acting in a consistent manner, like the pianist following his score without flaw. Just as God can follow a script at will — i.e., nature — so God can improvise at will — i.e. a miracle.

I prefer to focus not so much on miracles that interrupt, counteract or violate nature as on miracles that infuse nature. What wisdom lies in Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s miraculous vision: “Earth’s crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God; But only he who sees, takes off his shoes — The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.”

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One of the foremost miracles is when man acts on faith.

RABBI MARK S. MILLER

Temple Bat Yahm

Newport Beach

Merriam-Webster defines “miracle” as “an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs.” There has been no shortage of miracles throughout human history. One need look no further than Old and New Testaments. Many canonized saints performed well-documented miracles in their lifetimes.

I can provide very recent examples from my own parish. The results of an ultrasound showed that a pregnant woman’s unborn child had serious defects. The woman’s mother began praying for the health of the child. The subsequent test revealed that the baby was healthy.

I recently administered anointing of the sick and prayed over a man who was scheduled for a quadruple bypass the following day. The operation never took place, however, since right before the operation, the doctors determined that there was no need — the blockages were gone. Do I believe in miracles? Without a doubt.

FATHER STEPHEN DOKTORCZYK

St. Joachim Church

Costa Mesa

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