My first 15 years as a Catholic
For a Few Dollars More is an uncomfortable movie to watch

In praise of tiny miracles

One of the aspects of my continuing conversion that has been particularly acute of late is that of discerning the spiritual realm.

That's actually quite hard these days, because from the moment we encounter the world, we are taught to do so through a secular perspective.  Even people of faith find themselves in this bind, where the first explanation for any extraordinary event has to be a "logical" one.  Should those fail to do the trick, the event itself is now put under greater scrutiny.

Whatever happened, it couldn't be a miracle.

This secular lens creates a tension within your faith.  On the one hand, Christians are supposed to believe in all manner of extraordinary things that defy science and reason, from a virgin giving birth to a man rising from the dead and ascending into heaven.  In between those events there are still more miracles involving wine, water, bread, language, and so on.

Angels pop in from time to time with various messages.  They are so awe-inspiring that they almost always have to preface their remarks by saying "Be not afraid."

And there are demons!  Demons that possess people, make them act crazy and ultimately need to be cast out by divine power. 

So you have this incredibly rich realm of spirit and divine power that in many ways has been reduced to fairy tales from the Age of Legends, or as the theologians call it, the Apostolic Age.  They believe that when the original apostles finally died off and the New Testament was written, the miracles mostly went away.  The term for this is cessationism, and I have to say it's a pretty bleak idea.

The thing is, it's in many ways pervasive in our modern culture, partly because it's only slightly removed from pure atheism, which denies miracles altogether.  Cessationism seems to me like a halfway house for people who want the respect of secular types, but still like the idea of Christianity.

Of course this belief is in direct opposition to the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions, which insist that the miracles never stopped and are still going on today.  All you have to do is look for them.

I'm increasingly in agreement with this point of view, and once I began to put on my 'spirit' lenses, I was amazed at how much I saw going on that I'd always missed before.  It's like going from black and white to full color.  I can't imagine ever going back.

Miracles come in all sizes, and I find the smaller ones often have deeper meanings.  When a friend you've long abandoned hope of seeing suddenly contacts you when you feel totally alone, that's a miracle.  It's a small, unexpected, improbable thing happening right when it was needed. 

There are all sorts of ways these things play out, and if one maintains an open mind and an attitude of gratitude, you'll start seeing them all over the place.


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