Miracles and Evangelism

July 18, 2014 | 17 comments

Some of the greatest gifts God has given to the Church for evangelism are the gifts of miracles. As a Pentecostal before I became Catholic, I always believed God still performs miracles, but I never saw anything close to what Catholics too often take for granted in both the number and kind of miracles God pours out upon his One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church in every generation. Everything from the raising of the dead, to restorative miracles of the body and more have been experienced in the Church for 2,000 years fulfilling our Lord’s prophetic words of Mark 16:17-20:

“These signs shall follow those who believe”… And they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it.

And yet, these miracles are too often the best kept secret in Catholicism. I am convinced that untold millions of souls would come to Christ in his Church if we as Catholics would simply inform them of these incredible gifts.

What is a Miracle?

The glossary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church gives an excellent definition of what constitutes a miracle:

A sign or wonder, such as a healing or the control of nature, which can only be attributed to divine power. The miracles of Jesus were messianic signs of the presence of God.

The key here is the notion that a true miracle “can only be attributed to divine power;” it cannot be explained by the action of created beings. Thus, when the Church investigates whether or not a particular phenomenon is miraculous all natural possibilities must first be eliminated. In fact, in its discernment process the Church will often use non-believing experts in pertinent areas, whether they are doctors when discerning a physical healing, or various scientists when examining some other material phenomena as we will see below, in order to avoid any possible bias in favor of demonstrating a miracle. If anything, the Church would prefer the investigating expert to have a bias against rather than in favor of demonstrating an authentic miracle. The principle involved here is simple. God does not need our help to communicate miracles. He is plenty able to do it all by himself and in a way that will be convincing to any and all who seek the truth honestly.

Why Miracles?

Vatican I, in session 3, The Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith, chapter 3, “On Faith,” declared:

Nevertheless, in order that the submission of our faith should be in accordance with reason, it was God’s will that there should be linked to the internal assistance of the Holy Spirit external indications of his revelation, that is to say divine acts, and first and foremost miracles and prophecies, which clearly demonstrating as they do the omnipotence and infinite knowledge of God, are the most certain signs of revelation and are suited to the understanding of all.

Moreover, in its accompanying canons, the Council fathers declared infallibly:

(Canon 3) If anyone says that divine revelation cannot be made credible by external signs, and that therefore men and women ought to be moved to faith only by each one’s internal experience or private inspiration: let him be anathema.
(Canon 4) If anyone says that all miracles are impossible, and that therefore all reports of them, even those contained in sacred scripture, are to be set aside as fables or myths; or that miracles can never be known with certainty, nor can the divine origin of the Christian religion be proved from them: let him be anathema.

It should be noted that God does not overwhelm us when it comes to miracles. God respects our freedom. Indeed, without freedom there is no true love as we understand it. Miracles are aids to those who honestly seek truth, never guns to the head forcing belief. For those who do not want to submit to God and his truth, there will always be ways to explain away miracles, even if these “explanations” range from the weak to the absurd. Jesus’ words in Luke 16:31 come to mind:

“If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.”

This is not to dismiss the importance of miracles. Of course not! The Church has rightfully declared them to be “the most certain signs of revelation” and certain proofs of “the divine origin of the Christian religion” as we cited above. But it is a help for keeping things in perspective. Not everyone is going to be convinced because there is more to this thing than just being persuaded intellectually. The will sometimes gets in the way!

Eucharistic Miracles

1. In ca. AD 700, at the Monastery of St. Longinus, in Lanciano Italy, a priest-Monk whose name is unknown to us today was celebrating the Holy Eucharist. He had been struggling with his faith in the Real Presence when our Lord in his infinite mercy would deign to grant to this priest and to the world a miracle that even to this day continues to be visible proof of the truth of the Eucharist. Shortly after the consecration—after the bread and wine he offered had been transubstantiated into the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ—the accidents of bread and wine he was then holding in his hands were transformed into real human flesh and real human blood.

Over the centuries there have been multiple occasions where the Church permitted this miracle to be examined, but perhaps the most thorough of these examinations took place in 1970, under the expert scrutiny of Dr. Odoardo Linoli, university professor-at-large in anatomy and pathological histology, and in chemistry and clinical microscopy, head physician of the United Hospitals of Arezzo, and Dr. Ruggero Bertelli, a professor emeritus of normal human anatomy at the University of Siena. The findings of this study were truly amazing:

• The flesh was proven to be the muscular tissue from the myocardium of a human heart.
• The blood tested from both the flesh and coagulated blood was discovered to be AB positive and human in origin.
• The proteins in the coagulated blood were “found to be normally fractionated, with the same percentage ratio as those found in normal fresh blood.” In other words, this blood was not later planted from a cadaver; it came from a living body and maintained properties of fresh blood.
• Inexplicably, though the receptacles containing the miracles were not hermetically sealed, nor did they have any preserving agents that could be detected, the flesh and blood had been preserved for well over 1,200 years, even though they would have been exposed to all sorts of variant temperatures and atmospheric conditions, the smoke of incense, etc.

Even today tens of thousands of regular visitors to Lanciano, Italy, where the miracle is preserved, can view flesh that maintains a pinkish hue with visible blood vessels remaining as a sign of the truth of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

2. On August 14, 1730, in Siena, Italy, thieves broke into the Church of St. Francis, picked the lock on the tabernacle, and stole the golden ciborium containing hundreds of consecrated hosts. After an intensive search, the sacred hosts were thankfully found having been stuffed into an offering box in a nearby church, St. Mary of Provenzano. The ciborium had obviously been stolen for its monetary value. The hosts were immediately returned in procession to St. Francis Church.

Many people ask why the sacred hosts would not have been consumed at that time. Most likely, they were not consumed because of their soiled condition. After cleaning the hosts as best they could, they were probably left to deteriorate naturally until they could no longer be called bread. They could then be discarded respectfully. At least, that is one theory. But most importantly to our point, the priests of the parish were startled to find that the sacred hosts not only did not deteriorate over time, but they maintained a freshly baked consistency and a pleasant scent. The Franciscans who ministered at St. Francis Catholic Church became convinced in time that they were witnessing a miracle.

Fifty years later, on April 14, 1780, an official investigation was begun into the authenticity of the miracle. After fifty years, the sacred hosts were found to be fresh, as if they had been prepared the day before. The miraculous nature of this phenomenon had become inescapable.

Over the years there have been multiple investigations including a most thorough examination in 1914 by direction of His Holiness, Pope St. Pius X. During this investigation the sacred hosts were examined by a panel including scientists, professors as well as theologians and church leaders. This distinguished panel concluded that there is no natural explanation for the fact that these hosts still exhibited the characteristics of freshly baked unleavened bread without even a hint of deterioration, and so they have endured for over two hundred and eighty years and can been seen today in that same pristine state.

Incorruptibles

1. St. Bernadette Soubirous (b. 1844, d. April 16, 1879, at 35 years of age) is most famous for the Blessed Mother having visited her from heaven in 1858, where our Lady revealed herself as “the Immaculate Conception.” Occurring just four years after Pope Blessed Pius IX had declared this to be a dogma, it was as though the Church had received confirmation from heaven of this truth the Pope had “bound on earth” in accord with the power Christ promised to him in Matthew 16:18-19.
These apparitions provided much more than confirmation of a dogma, however. Below, we will examine two bodily healings from among the scores of approved miracles from the sight of this apparition, but for now we want to examine what is perhaps a lesser known miracle involving St. Bernadette. At least, it is lesser known among people outside of the Church.

On September 22, 1909, thirty years after her death, Bernadette’s body was exhumed as is sometimes the case when the cause of canonization is first begun. When they opened the coffin, two doctors and multiple sisters of the community observed a body that was as perfectly preserved as on the day of her death. Her face had even maintained its natural skin tone. The rosary she was holding in her hands had rusted and the crucifix that had been laid upon her chest was covered with verdigris and yet she was absolutely pristine. All was recorded and she was again placed in the tomb.

Ten years later, her corpse was exhumed once again at the end of the canonization process and found to be just as perfectly preserved. Her body can be viewed today at the Chapel of St. Bernadette in Nevers, France, where 135 years after her death she still looks as though she has just fallen asleep.

2. St. Catherine Laboure (b. 1806, d. Dec. 31, 1876, at 70 years of age) is also well-known among Catholics for being chosen by God to be the recipient of heavenly visits. Hers came from Our Lord himself, St. Vincent de Paul, who was the founder of her Religious Order, her guardian angel, and most famously, our Blessed Mother who gave the Miraculous Medal to the world through St. Catherine in 1830. This great gift to the Church has been the instrument of numerous miracles and blessings over the years.

Fifty-six years after her death, when her beatification was announced by the Vatican, her body was exhumed only to be discovered perfectly intact by the medical and ecclesiastical team assigned to the task. Two fingers on her left hand appeared to be blackened, but upon further investigation the cause was found to be the disintegration of the sleeve of her habit, not from any decay of her skin. Amazingly, her arms and legs were found to be supple and even her bones had not suffered decay. They were still elastic and cartilaginous. Her eyes were still intact, complete with irises still retaining the blue-gray color Catherine was born with. Her hair remained attached to her scalp, her fingernails and toenails were perfectly preserved. Just as St. Bernadette above, the preservation of St. Catherine’s body could not be explained naturally. Not a few men I can think of would love to have their hair remain as perfectly attached to their scalps in life as this great saint’s hair remained in death!

Healings

1. Born Christmas day 1939, in Ribera, Sicily, Gemma Di Giorgi was legally blind. She was born without pupils in her eyes. Doctors declared there was nothing that could be done for her. Yet, at the age of seven, she was taken by her grandmother on the long journey to San Giovanni Rotondo to see Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, better known as Padre Pio. There are differing accounts of the actual process of how the healing took place, but there is no disagreement over the fact that through the intercession of Padre Pio, this little girl received her sight. Fr. Charles Mortimer Carty recounts:

They were both lost in the crowd… attending [Padre Pio’s] Mass, when at the end while the silence was still intense, everyone heard a voice calling: “Gemma, come here!” The grandmother pushed her way to the altar… [Padre Pio] smiled at Gemma and told her that she must make her first Communion. He heard her confession and then stroked her eyes with his hand…

The healing did not take place immediately, but as Fr. Carty explains:

Padre Pio saw them later and said: “May the Madonna bless you, Gemma. Be a good girl!” At this moment the child gave a frantic cry, she could see…

What is perhaps most remarkable about this healing is that from a medical and scientific perspective, Gemma should still be blind. When she was healed, she did not miraculously receive new pupils. Her eyes to this day (and she is still alive) still look like the eyes of a blind woman. Carty goes on to say:

The cure was permanent and complete, although her eyes still had no pupils. She was examined by many doctors who testified to the case and were able to offer no scientific explanation.

2. “The Medical Office of Lourdes” was established in 1882 as an aid for the Church in discerning which alleged miracles at Lourdes would be approved as such by the Church. In 1947, the “National Medical Committee of Lourdes” (in 1954, the name was changed to the International Medical Committee of Lourdes) was established to further scrutinize phenomena presented by the Medical Office as inexplicable. It consists of ca. 30 physicians appointed by the Bishop of Tarbes and Lourdes and applies intense scrutiny to each case presented. Of the over 6,000 documented miracles in the archives of the Medical Office, the Church has only approved 67 of them.

It is not that all of the other “miracles” are not truly miracles. Many of them, perhaps thousands, probably are. The Church establishes the highest of standards to ensure only the most certain are presented to the faithful as worthy of pious belief. In order to be approved, the miracles have to be “sudden, unforeseeable, involving no convalescence… total… lasting (at least 4 or 5 years before being taken into consideration)… serious (that is, a threat to life)… organic and not functional…” In fact, the committee considers whether or not previous therapies or means of care may have had an impact on a healing. Only those entirely inexplicable by natural causes can be considered to be miraculous.

I will list two of these miracles here that occurred on successive days—August 20th (Marie Lebranchu) and 21st (Marie Lemarchand) of 1892. Both of these women suffered terribly from severe pulmonary tuberculosis (Koch’s baciallus) and were in the final and terminal stages of the disease. Lebranchu, 35 years-old, was emaciated, weighing less than 60 lbs while Lemarchand, 18 years-old, actually had ulcerous caverns in her face caused by the tuberculosis that were absolutely hideous to behold.

Both women were instantaneously healed upon bathing in the miraculous waters—Marie Lemarchand received brand new pink skin where before there were only holes. She would later marry and give birth to eight children.

Priceless Gifts

When Jesus uttered the famous words, “I and my Father are one” in John 10:30, boldly declaring his divinity, he knew that most would not believe him. After all, this was an incredible claim to make to a 1st century Jewish audience. However, notice our Lord’s response:

If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father (John 10:37-38).

It was as though our Lord was saying, “I know what I am saying seems hard for you to understand—even blasphemous—but the miracles I have performed prove that what I am saying is true.” The Church makes incredible claims as well, claiming divine authority, the power to forgive sins, etc. This seems outrageous to our incredulous age as well. When attempts at giving reasoned explanations for what we believe seem to fall on deaf ears, perhaps our response to the unbelieving multitudes can be similar to our Lord’s. If given the opportunity, perhaps a presentation of just some of the many documented cases of miracles in the Church will lead many to “believe the works” so that they can then “know and understand” the rest.

If you want to learn more reasons for faith in our Lord and in his Holy Catholic Church, click here.


Tim Staples is Director of Apologetics and Evangelization here at Catholic Answers, but he was not always Catholic. Tim was raised a Southern Baptist. Although he fell away from the faith of his childhood, Tim came back to faith in Christ during his late teen years through the witness of Christian...

Catholic Answers To Common Objections
In Catholic Answers To Common Objections you and your non-Catholic friends will be staggered by the mountain of scriptural evidence Tim Staples has compiled to prove the truth of even the most controversial Catholic teachings.

Comments by Catholic.com Members

#1  Larry Anaya - Lake Balboa, California

Hey Tim, love the article but I have something to add that's usually missed when discussing the incorruptibles. They are not as incorrupt as they were first seem. I grew up in Our Lady of Lourdes Parish and new all about St. Bernadette and loved her story. I was however shocked when I found out that the face we are all so familiar with was actually a wax mask because her skin has blackened. Although she may have been incorrupt when first exhumed she is no longer as she once may have been.

July 18, 2014 at 9:01 am PST
#2  Larry Anaya - Lake Balboa, California

"knew"

July 18, 2014 at 9:02 am PST
#3  Hunter Moon - Chandler, Arizona

Tim, ias a Catholic love your work and use it a lot when talking with Protestants. But I heard an argument I have never heard before. "Mary, by her spiritual entering into the sacrifice of her divine son for men, made atonement for the sins of man and (de congruon) merited the application of the redemptive grace of Christ. In this manner she cooperates in the subjective redemption of mankind," (Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Ott, Page 213). An Anti Catholic quoted this accusing us of believing Mary atoned for us on Calvary. Every Catholic resource like New Advent, EWTN and this place says Christ alone atoned for us. Can you tell me if that quote is taken out of context or misinterpreted or even both please?

July 18, 2014 at 10:00 am PST
#4  Dain Bramaged - Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Australia - Jan 10, 2010 - Grandmother of 20, Kathleen Evans, speaks about her cancer healing which has been attributed to the miraculous intercession of Mother Mary Mackillop.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBK7BnQz0Jc

July 18, 2014 at 1:04 pm PST
#5  Christopher Travis - Huntsville, Alabama

This article sure hits home. I owe all of my faith to miracles. Some people come to the truth through their intellect, then there are the stubborn hard headed people like me who needed some Divine dramatics to get my attention. How great it would be for us Catholics to set aside a day or two a year at our local parishes to give testimony and witness to the miracles we have encountered. If Christ gives us miracles I am a firm believer we should share them with others. I had another life changing miracle last week and will post it soon, when I get time on PC instead of this Nook reader that has a lousy spell check.

July 19, 2014 at 7:51 pm PST
#6  Salonsar War - Shillong, Kentucky

In a recent issue of a Catholic magazine here in India (Charisindia, May 2014 issue), there is an article about our own Pope Francis (then cardinal Bergoglio) who was reported a Eucharistic miracle in his diocese in Buenos Aires in 1996. It was something about a consecrated host found at the back of an old church, which, after having been immersed in water, turned to flesh. The good cardinal sent for 2 independent scientific tests some years later, without informing of the source. I wish I had that magazine right now so I can relate the whole thing but the story goes that the results were miraculous and unexplained and the said miracle was then recorded.

Faith produces miracles, but sadly, miracles don't always foster faith. I fully agree that we need to get out on the streets and parishes and share our experiences and testimonies. The Catholic Charismatic Renewal has been doing well here in India and I pray and hope that we can reach out to as many as we can and truly fulfill our Lord's Great Commission.

God Bless.

July 21, 2014 at 5:41 am PST
#7  Tim Staples - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Larry,
In response to your #1, it appears that when the sisters of St. Bernadette's Order bathed her body after it was exhumed and found to be perfectly preserved, it caused a bit of darkening of the skin. But this hardly dismisses the fact that her body is remarkably and inexplicably preserved. In fact, both St. Bernadette and St. Catherine Laboure's bones are still cartilaginous. If you cut them, they will bleed. As I said in my post, there is no natural explanation for this.
Remember this as well: Different "incorruptibles" are incorrupt to different degrees. St. Rita of Cascia, for example, has darkened skin due to centuries of exposure to incense. St. Catherine of Siena has some decay around her mouth, it is believed, due to a minor fault of vanity about her bad teeth during her life (saints were not perfect--they were "perfected" by grace). And some are more or less perfectly preserved for reasons we are simply not privy to.
So it should not be a surprise that the bodies of the incorruptibles could either be damaged by outside influences, nor should it be a surprise if they show signs of imperfect preservation for various if not mysterious reasons.

July 21, 2014 at 6:19 am PST
#8  Tim Staples - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Hunter,
Yes, Mary is "co-redemptrix," meaning that she "redeemed" us "with" her Son. But we are all called to be "co-redeemers" with Christ inasmuch as we are called to "save" souls by cooperating with the grace of Christ in reaching out with God's love and grace to those without Christ, or those who are in need of Christ's grace (see Col. 1:24; I Tim. 4:16; I Cor. 9:22; I Cor. 7:16; James 5:19-20; I Peter 2:21, etc.).
Mary is unique in that she alone was called to bring the whole Christ to the whole world. In fulfillment of the prophecy of Simeon in Luke 2:34-35, Mary would suffer with Christ (a correction to your question: Mary did not redeem the world "on" the cross, she did so at the foot of the cross) so that "the thoughts of many would be revealed" just as Christ suffered on the cross for the "rise and fall of many."
The key here is to understand that Christ is our redeemer in a strict sense. He uniquely had and has the power to save us because he was the perfect man to make a perfect sacrifice for man, and he was God so that he would have the power to save us. Mary's role is entirely dependent upon Christ. She was called to be the instrument to bring Christ to the world. That is what Ott meant by "subjectively" redeeming the world. Again, all Christians are called to bring Christ to those we can (and so "redeem" them, or "save" them in that same subjective sense - see verses above); Mary simply and uniquely brought Christ to all (see Revelation 12:17).

July 21, 2014 at 6:33 am PST
#9  Steven Way - Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio

I will share a miracle that happened to me and one that happened in my wife's family.

When I was 14 years old, I got hit by a car while I was riding fast on a bicycle at night. Without going too much into the details, I slammed straight into a curb in front of me at the same time that the car struck my bicycle from the side. I did a somersault flip over the handle bars and went through the air. When I landed, I realized that while the bicycle was mangled but that I hadn't even gotten a single bruise and not even a scratch. I wasn't a Christian at the time (I converted later as an adult), but in hindsight I believe that it was my guardian angel.

My wife's grandmother's sister lived in Mexico and was known to be devoutly Catholic. She would pray through all three mysteries of the rosary every day (since back then there were only the Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious). She died in 1949 at the age of 20. But at her funeral wake she came back from the dead. She said that she had met the Virgin Mary and had seen a glimpse of what Heaven looks like. She said that she saw flowers in Heaven that looked more beautiful than the most beautiful flowers anywhere on earth. And she told everyone there at the funeral wake that they should pray the rosary every day. She also said there would come a time in the future when most women would be wearing pants or short dresses. She said that this was offensive to God. She said that women shouldn't wear a dress that doesn't cover the knees. Back then, it was not common for women to wear pants, and most women wore long dresses. And she said that women should not disfigure their face with makeup. She also said that women should not dance with any man who isn't their husband or who they know won't end up being their husband. She died (again) about 5 minutes after giving this message.

July 21, 2014 at 10:10 am PST
#10  Steven Way - Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio

Grammar correction to a sentence in my above post:

When I landed, I realized that the bicycle was mangled but that I hadn't even received a single bruise or scratch.

July 21, 2014 at 10:18 am PST
#11  Christopher Travis - Huntsville, Alabama

Those are pretty awesome miracles Steven!! It is a blessing for us that you are sharing them with us. Thank God for gaurdian angels!!! Have you ever prayed to God to know your guardian angel? I can assure you that if you do, you might get another huge miracle, and a name to say "Thank You" to. You might also get some wisdom that is out of this world. I think in modern times guardian angels in our faith are neglected and under appreciated. I sure appreciate and love mine!!

Your aunt was so right in all that she saw and said, and how awesome is it that our Lord allowed her to give us such an important message. Not only did she get to give us such an important message, she also confirmed God's power over death! Once again thanks for sharing, it is very encouraging and inspiring!!

July 21, 2014 at 7:41 pm PST
#12  James Davis - Ottsville, Pennsylvania

Tim, could you point out where I can find original studies of the Eucharistic miracles/ incorruptibles?

July 22, 2014 at 1:06 pm PST
#13  Tim Staples - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

James,
You must get two books by Joann Carroll Cruz. 1. "Eucharistic Miracles." 2. "The Incorruptibles." She has done the work for you. She travelled to all of the places of these miracles and documented the inside scoop from the official investigations.

You'll also want to check out www.miraclehunter.com, which gives excellent info. There is a wealth of information there from documents of the Church to articles by experts.

July 31, 2014 at 4:04 am PST
#14  Sebastian G - Framingham, Massachusetts

Hello Tim, my name is Sebastian. I am 17 years old. Before I get to the questions I wanna ask I wanna tell you a little bit about my past. I was raised catholic and continue to be so. But in my past I've had a love for science as well. It never occurred to me that the knowledge of my religion would crash with my knowledge of science until about 2 weeks ago. For some reason I was going to sleep one night and began asking deep questions that a kid my age shouldn't ask. I began to understand what the phrase "time flys" truly means. Since then I haven't been at peace with myself because I keep asking myself the same questions. These questions areas follows:
1. Is there a thorough explanation in any scripture that describes the process of death
2. I read some experiences of people who were near death or "dead" for 8 minuets or so. Some say that they see a light. What is that light and is it mentioned anywhere in Catholicism.
3. I have a very strong bond with my family. Before I didn't acknowledge that one day my family will be gone until 2 weeks ago. What I want to know is if god chooses me to go towards heaven will I be able to identify my family. And also will I have recognition of my life on earth?
4. Is there a way for me to get back to the peaceful, "in the moment" life that I had before these thoughts ran thru my mind
5. And lastly, why am I thinking this way. Is thinking about death deeply a normal thing. A work of god? Or something else?
Thank you for your time,
Sebastian

August 19, 2014 at 7:06 am PST
#15  Arthur Worst - Bessemer, Pennsylvania

Tim,

Could you please explain why there are others outside the Catholic church who are also claimed to be incoruptable, such as a budist lama, a king of England, and etc? If these are just as valid, then how can we claim to have any special claim to such graces? Perhaps incoruptibility is not as uncommon as we thought. I saw the previous suggestion, so I will look at the resources you mentioned.

thanks,

Arthur

Sebastian,

I can't answer your questions but will say this. I think it is good to think about death, but to be afraid of death is another issue. Sure, it is normal to fear the unknown which is why people come up with theories on such things. It is said that when we go to heaven, everything is revealed to us, so I would say that knowledge of your family and past life would be there. Ultimately, what you will need to do to regain peace is to trust God, trust that God loves you and pray for protection from the devil who will use your fear, (or pretty much anything he can) to move you away from God and cause you to cease to trust God which leads to death.

Anyone, feal free to correct me if I am wrong on anything.

thanks, and God Bless,

Arthur Worst

September 28, 2014 at 3:56 pm PST
#16  Tim Staples - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Sebastian,
In answer to your #14:
I am not understanding what you mean by your "love of science" causing your faith to crash. What is it about science that you think contradicts faith? Just so you know, the Catholic Church is a huge proponent for science. True science can never contradict true faith.
Now to answer your points specifically:
1. "Is there a thorough explanation in any scripture that describes the process of death?"
No. God has not revealed to us the details. We only know that when we die, we will experience what is called "the particular judgment" where we will be judged by God for all that we've done in this life. We then go to heaven, hell, or purgatory where we await the final judgment at the end of time where all will be judged corporately and God's entire plan of salvation will be revealed so that all will know that God is both just and merciful. We will understand why God did and allowed all that he did and allowed in his providential plan.
2. "I read some experiences of people who were near death or 'dead' for 8 minutes or so. Some say that they see a light. What is that light and is it mentioned anywhere in Catholicism?"
Again, the answer to that is no. God has not revealed to us the details about the afterlife except for what I said above and certain things about the nature of the human soul in relation to the body and things like that. It makes sense that there would be some sense of a "light" when Scripture says God "dwells in light unapproachable" (see I Tim. 6:16). But we do not place theological stock in individual people's alleged experiences of what they perceive to be "the afterlife." There are any number of possible natural explanations for such experiences. And even if there was a case where there is no natural explanation, such visions of heaven are always going to be a mere shadow of what the faithful will actually experience in heaven, because, as I Cor. 2:9 says, "Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it entered into the mind of man what God has prepared for those who love him."
3. "I have a very strong bond with my family. Before I didn't acknowledge that one day my family will be gone until 2 weeks ago. What I want to know is if god chooses me to go towards heaven will I be able to identify my family. And also will I have recognition of my life on earth?"
Yes. Heaven is not guaranteed for any of us, but if we are faithful until death, our union with God will not diminish our knowledge of and love for our families and friends. Our knowledge will be increased exponentially. We will know them far better than we do now. And we will also know and understand our entire lives and how God worked in our lives. We will know every detail of our lives, even things that we have long forgotten. And most importantly, in heaven the saints will see all of these things in the light of God's love and mercy. There will be no, "Did you hear what he did over there?" There will only be perfect love and understanding.
4. "Is there a way for me to get back to the peaceful, "in the moment" life that I had before these thoughts ran thru my mind?"
Yes, there is. And that is through Jesus Christ by understanding that he has already conquered sin and death and so there is nothing to fear with regard to the both of them. Jesus has gone before us, he is with us, and will be with us all the way through life and death and into the next life. All we have to do is trust in the love he demonstrated for us by dying for us on the cross. "Greater love has no man than this..." (John 15:12)
5. "And lastly, why am I thinking this way. Is thinking about death deeply a normal thing. A work of god? Or something else?"
I have a CD set available here at www.catholic.com called "Last Call," which is a teaching series on what we call "The Last Things," Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell. These are not topics that a lot of folks want to talk about, but it is crucial that we do. Understanding the truth about death and the next life will effect the way we live this life. As long as we don't obsess about it, meditation on these things is quite healthy.

October 9, 2014 at 9:32 am PST
#17  Tim Staples - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Arthur,
In response to your #15:
It has been argued by some in the Church (St. Francis de Sales, as I recall, is one of them) that true miracles cannot happen outside the visible Church. The Church has never taught that. But this is an area where we can disagree.
I believe that if there can be salvation apart from the visible boundaries of the Church, then I don't see a reason why there could not be miracles as well.
These miracles would pale next to the miracles in the true Church, but I would hold out at least the possibility that they could exist.
When it comes to incorruptibles; however, I have not found anything that comes close to, say, St. Catherine Laboure.
Take for example the "The Buddhist Monks of Japan" who are purported to be "incorrupt." When you examine them, they are actually mummified artificially. Check out:
http://www.sonic.net/~anomaly/japan/dbuddha.htm
This is not an example of a true incorruptible.
Is it possible there could be? I would argue yes. Some would argue no. But I have not found any that live up to the examples I have given above.

October 9, 2014 at 2:45 pm PST

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