How Learning about Maryís Miracles Blew My Mind
A Testimony by
February 10, 2015
The miracle at Cana
Satan cannot drive out Satan. A
house, or a kingdom, cannot be divided against itself.
The synoptic gospels of Matthew,
Mark, and Luke all record this profound event in the earthly ministry
of Jesus Christ. After healing a demon-possessed man, Jesus is confronted
by the Pharisees, the pious religious leaders of the time, who question
what authority Jesus has to cast out demons. They suggest, since Jesus
certainly canít possibly be working through the power of God, that it
must be Satan, the devil, thatís given Him the power to drive out the
I think itís safe to say that
Jesusís profound theological observationóthat Satan canít work
against himselfócan be applied to the context of modern day miracles as
Miracles, like those connected to the
appearance or the intercession of the Virgin Mary, cannot possibly be
explained as work of Satan. Miracles which, for all intents and
purposes, draw millions to Jesus Christ Himself. When I dug deep into the
historical miracles of the Catholic Church, especially those connected
with the intercession and appearance of the Virgin Mary, I knew I had
something enormous to contend with. What I found, dear reader, blew my
Of Minor Miracles
a Protestant, especially a Pentecostal, miracles werenít something
wholly unfamiliar to my faith life or to my understanding of Christianity.
Far from it. In the middle years of my University life I attended a charismatic Pentecostal church
in town where faith healings, speaking in tongues, and being slain
in the Spirit were par for the course in a Sunday evening
meeting. Iíve witnessed miracles, to be sure.
I began to explore the Catholic Church, however, I was perplexed, as a
Protestant, as to how miracles could be attributed to the intercession of
Mary. To begin, I didnít understand that notion of the intercession of the saints, so that didnít help.
But I worried, as well, that perhaps all those superstitious Catholics had
the wool pulled over their eyes, so to speak, by the Father of Lies, Satan
think this is a fairly common concern of evangelical Protestantsóat
least this was my experience.
A Kingdom Divided?
What if the miracles of
Mary were nothing more than a garden variety strategy by Satan to lead the
Catholic Church, and well-meaning Catholic Christians, away from the truth
What if, instead of raising up
Christ, these miracles were a diabolical means to elevate Mary to the
status of an idol?
My fear, as a good Pentecostal
Protestant, was that Satan had put Mary in the way of Christ.
But how can a kingdom be divided
It canít. Jesus is clear.
Because, as Iíve learned, the
Marian miracles, and there are scores and scores of them, do not lead
well-meaning people away from Christ, towards Mary. The Marian miracles
lead millions to Christ. And that, absolutely, canít be the work of
Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal
In 1830 an apparition of the Virgin
Mary appeared to Sister Catherine Labourť, a novice in the community of
the Daughters of Charity in Paris, France. Over the course of several
appearances, the Virgin Mary allegedly told Sister Catherine to have a
medal fashioned in her image for faithful Catholics to wear around their
Now called the Miraculous Medal, the
medal itself features highly symbolic imagery of Mary and asserts, among
other things, her Immaculate Conception, a dogma which wasnít
proclaimed by the Church until 24 years later, although it had been
piously believed since the early foundation of the Christian Church.
Several things are critically
important to understand about this story.
The first is this. The Virgin Mary
appeared to Sister Catherineóthese days canonized as St.
Catherineóat a critical junction in the life of the Church. Although
widely held to be true, the Church hadnít promulgated an official
teaching on the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Maryóthat is, she
was conceived from the very first moment, protected by God, from sin. St.
Catherineís apparition of the Virgin Mary appeared at just the right
time, making even more popular the widely held belief by establishing a
mission to create and distribute the Miraculous Medal and itís message.
The second important thing to
understand is this. The body of St. Catherine is what the Church calls incorruptible.
What does that mean? That means that coming up on 200 years after her
death her body, which lies interred in the chapel where she first
received this vision of the Virgin Mary, has not decayed.
Iíll say that again: Her body has
not decayed. For how long now? 200 years.
What blows my mind, dear reader, is
that not only have miracles been genuinely associated with the medal that
the Blessed Mother gave to St. Catherineóthatís why itís
called the Miraculous Medalóbut that, as if to underscore the reality of
these miracles, Catherineís body itself has not decayed, unpreserved, after
nearly 200 years!
Our Lady of Guadalupe
In a nutshell, the miracle of Our
Lady of Guadalupe is something after the heart of Jesus. Of course,
because Maryís miracles donít work through some incredible power of
Mary herselfóthey point to Christóso we should expect, as she often
does, Mary to appear to the poor and destitute, the young and the sick, as
Jesus did, and would.
In 1531, the Virgin Mary appeared to
a native American peasant named Juan Diego in a place just outside of
Mexico City. Mary asked for Juan to petition the local bishop to have
chapel build in her name. Juan, obviously awestruck, went to the bishop
but his story wasnít well received. In the course of several more
appearances, and the continued reluctance of the bishop to believe
Juanís story, the Virgin Mary instructed him to gather some flowers into
his cloak, flowers growing on a particular hill which, interestingly
enough, werenít native to the area (and shouldnít have been growing at
Finding the flowers, Juan gathered
them up and went to see the bishop. When he opened his cloak to show the
bishop the flowers, as proof of the Virgin Maryís appearance and the
truth of his story, he revealed quite a bit more.
Instead, the inside of Juanís cloak
was miraculously transformed into a deeply symbolic image of the
Blessed Mother. Like the Miraculous Medal, 300 years later, the symbolism
was incredibly rich, and the appearance of the image itself, entirely
In fact, and incredibly, like the
incorruptible body of St. Catherine the very same cloak worn by Juan
Diego, displaying the image of Our Lady, can still be seen today, nearly
500 years later. The cloak and itís preservation from decay, subjected
to rigorous scientific tests, is truly beyond the explanation of science.
And pointing to Christ? The miracle
of the cloak and word of its occurrence spread throughout Mexico and
itís believed that some eight million Aztec natives were converted to
Christianity. The pilgrimage to see Juanís cloak and the chapel which
was, obviously, built in her name following the miracle, remains the
largest pilgrimage in North America and sees millions of people every year
come to celebrate Mass, and worship Jesus Christ, from all around the
That blows my mind.
Our Lady of Lourdes
Finally, the miracles of Our Lady of
In 1858, the Virgin Mary appeared to
Bernadette Soubirous, a 14-year old peasant girl in Lourdes, France. In
the course of several appearances, the Virgin Mary spoke to Bernadette
who, like Juan, wasnít at first believed by her parents and peers. But
Bernadette insisted, and persisted, and Maryís appearances culminated in
the instruction to Bernadette to dig in a certain area of the ground, near
the grotto, where Mary had been appearing.
From the area Bernadette dug a spring
appeared. This spring would later go on to be connected with scores of
miraculous physical and spiritual healings and gain official status in the
Church as a place of great importance.
In fact, the incredible aspect of
Lourdes, in my opinion, is the enormous body of evidence which exists
to support the profound miracles perpetuated at this holy site. The
Lourdes Medical Bureau, an organization which exists to examine and rule
on possible miraculous healings, has declared 68 scientifically
inexplicable miracles to have occurred at Lourdes. The Bureau itself is
incredible in its sophistication and expertise made up on an enormous
panel of expert doctors, including skeptics, from around the world and
with a tightly-controlled and highly-regulated system for declaring what
is, and isnít, an unexplained miracle.
Out of some 7,000 cases the Bureau
has examined 68 may seem like a small amount of genuine healings.
But, think about this, thatís still 68 healings that science
cannot, in any sense, explain.
That blows my mind.
Lourdes, to this day, is one of the
most popular Catholic pilgrimage sites in the world.
Maryís Miracles Always Point to
A good, devout Catholic doesnít
need to believe in any of Maryís miracles to be a Catholic*. The Church
teaches that private revelation, like these sorts of miracles, can be
believed, or not. Even in cases, like Lourdes, where the Church
definitively declares a miracle to have taken place itís up to the
individual believer to necessarily subscribe to it, or not.
Personally, and, obviously, thereís
a lot of compelling stuff in here. For me, as a Protestant, I find no
other way to explain these miracles than to say, flatly, that thereís something
about Mary. Something incredible. Something blessed.
If God doesnít work through the
intercession of the saints, if Mary was no one more special than a
fourteen year old Jewish virgin, then why is her intercession the cause of
these profound miracles? Why, if she is not, as Catholics assert, first
amongst the saints, would God use her in this way? It would, in the end,
truly be pulling the wool over the eyes of Catholics if God used Mary in
this way and let us go on, happily, believing in her special place in the
If Mary isnít who Catholics say she
is, and if the saints arenít to be venerated (asked to pray for us in
the same way I ask my living, Christian friends to pray for me) then why
would God allow her to appear, in this way, to mislead Catholics. Because,
ultimately, it would be misleading if she appeared like this and she
wasnít someone special.
Would God allow that? Would God use
As a Protestant, I struggled for
It would be, utterly impossible,
however, for Satan to be working in this way. I think thatís clear
enough. Satan could never, and would never, use anything that would lead
so many millions of people to a relationship with Christóand that is
precisely what these Marian miracles do.
are only so many ways to explain our way out of this, and they all
exhaust in a simple conclusion. And that conclusion, the truth about
Mary, the saints, and their intercessory power, has blown my mind.
A Comment: The Catechism of the Catholic Church says (#768): ďSo that she [the Church] can fulfill
her mission, the Holy Spirit bestows upon [the Church] varied hierarchic
and charismatic gifts, and in this way directs her.Ē
hierarchic gifts are the graces the faithful receive through the official
teachings (doctrines) and Sacraments of the Church.
The faithful have grave obligations to believe and accept them as
they were established by God in His Church.
The charismatic gifts refer to the graces through Godís
interventions in the life of the Church at any time according to her
needs. Messages, prophecies,
warnings, and miracles belong to this latter category and, unlike the
hierarchic gifts, do not formally impose the obligation to accept them on
the faithful. This does not
mean, however, that the charismatic graces are unimportant or unworthy of
our trust and belief and we are free from the consequences of our failures
to sincerely study and respond to the signs that are discerned to be truly
from God. Both channels used
by the Holy Spirit are essential in directing the Church and her members.
The sentence above, which we frequently hear: ďA good, devout Catholic doesnít need to believe in any of
Maryís miracles to be a Catholic,Ē can be misunderstood as meaning
that the charismatic gifts can be safely ignored.
Those who despised or ignored Godís warning through Noah all
Whereas the messages
and miracles of Our Lady of Guadalupe brought enormous blessings to the
Aztec Indians and eventually to entire Latin America.
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