Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Friday, May 04, 2007

It's a Miracle!

Well, maybe not in that case...

Something got me thinking the other day in regards to miracles. Perhaps someone out there has some insight on this.
One of the things that I admire about the way the Church deals with claims of apparitions is that it is both very careful in investigating them before declaring them "worthy of belief" and that it also only declares apparitions to be "worthy" not definately true. Thus, the Church does not teach that the apparitions at Lourdes did take place, merely that there is not reason why faithful Catholics cannot believe that they did.
Now, when the Church goes through the process of canonization, she definatively declares a saint to be in heaven. One of the inputs to this decision is looking at miracles performed through the intercession of the potential saint.
So what that leaves me wondering is, does the Church solemnly declare the miracles examined in the canonization process to be miracles, or does she use the fallible judgement that there is no reason to believe that an event was not a miracle as one input in making an infallible "binding and loosing" declaration as to whether the person in question is in heaven?

6 comments:

Kiwi Nomad 2006 said...

I am not about to answer your question. But I have a personal comment about Lourdes, where I was this time exactly a year ago. I am still a very fringe-almost-not catholic. But at Lourdes I took part in the evening Mariale processions several times. Each time, I had a profound feeling of peace afterwards. I went to sleep with that profound peace, and I woke in the mornings with the same profound peace.
I can't explain it. And for me it is a kind of miracle of Mary showing her care for me. The memory of it stops me drifting completely out of faith, and I know that one day I am going to have to 'sort it out'.

The Opinionated Homeschooler said...

Many, including Ludwig Ott (author of Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, the ultimate resource for all theological pedantry), say that the canonisation of saints is an infallible declaration; but the claim seems to rest on Aquinas' assertion that it's a pious belief to hold canonisation to be infallible, which frankly I find to fall a little short of actual assertion of infallibility (not to mention epistomologically confusing).

At any rate, assuming arguendo that canonization IS infallible, I don't see any theological reaons why infallibility would carry over to the miracles used to verify sanctity. First, my understanding is that the miracles only verify a sanctity that's initially determined by examination of the person's life, and thus seem more procedural than substantive. Second, the requirement of multiple miracles looks suspiciously like a built-in safeguard against error in determination that a single event was miraculous. Finally, I’ve just never heard miracles used to verify sanctity offered as an example of infallible ecclesial teaching--and surely if they were, they’d be mentioned more often as such an example.

My own pious opinion is that canonization isn't infallible. The recognition by eastern Catholics of Constantine as a saint is only one reason for that opinion.

Darwin said...

Hmm. Charlemagne had a feast day in parts of Europe for a while there... I don't think you'd call what he did to the Saxons a "miracle" though...

Literacy-chic said...

I admire your logic. Can I call you at 1 A.M when I have similar questions? ;) O.K., I guess I'll just post 'em...

The key might be that the examination of miracles is only one of the criteria.

Brandon said...

I suspect the Opinionated Homeschooler is right: even assuming that canonization is infallible (and assuming the infallible judgment of canonization is that the person is a saint rather than that the person as we know him or her is worthy of veneration as a saint by the whole Church -- as you note with regard to miracles, this is an important distinction, and the second is much easier to argue for theologically than the first, since it can easily be fit under the Church's authority in faith and morals), it doesn't follow that the infallibility carries over to any particular miracle.

What I find interesting is that the role of the miracle is simply to determine whether someone already determined to be of eminent Catholic virtue can be, so to speak, certified for liturgical use. Thus the real role of miracles in the canonization process, I would suggest, is primarily one of humility: not presuming to venerate someone simply on her own assessment of their virtues, the Church seeks plausible signs from God as in order to add a further guarantee that it is His doing, and not a human work.

barbfromcincy said...

Prayers for a safe trip!!! We're looking forward to seeing all of you next week...God bless!!!