Dear Friends of the Kolbe Center,
Glory to Jesus Christ!
One of the recurring themes of the testimonies that we receive from Catholics—both clergy and laity—who have watched the DVD series “Foundations Restored” is that before watching the DVD series and becoming convinced of the truth of the traditional doctrine of creation the world in some indefinable way “did not make sense”; but that after watching the series their Faith made perfect sense of their experience of the world. On the other hand, when a Georgetown professor interviewed some of the millions of young Catholics who have been leaving the Church in droves about their reasons for abandoning the Faith, a common theme of their testimonies was that the Bible and the traditional teaching of the Church did not agree with the findings of modern science. In other words, the Faith, as presented to them, was “incoherent.”
Sadly, there is no doubt that these young people are correct in their assessment of the catechesis that most of them receive in Catholic schools and CCD programs. On the one hand, they are told to believe in the Resurrection of Lazarus on the fourth day after his death and in the direct supernatural creation of the Sacred Humanity of Christ in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the moment of the Incarnation. On the other hand, they are told that we are not to believe Moses in the sacred history of Genesis when he tells us that God supernaturally created the first plants, animals, and human beings, by simply willing them into existence.
This teaching is not only incoherent, but it also exalts a naturalistic scientism above the Word of God as understood in His Church from the beginning whenever the Word of God teaches about the origins of man and the universe. That is to say, those who teach in this way, wittingly or unwittingly, assume, with Descartes and the Enlightenment philosophers, that the only “scientific” explanation for any phenomenon in regard to origins is a naturalistic one; and then they pass judgment upon the traditional Catholic interpretation of Scripture whenever it involves a supernatural divine action in the production of man and the universe, all the while insisting that the Incarnation and the Resurrection were supernatural!
Not only is this naturalistic scientism incoherent with the Word of God as understood in the Church from the beginning, both in the Old and New Testaments. It is also incoherent with the entire history of the Church and with the lives of her most distinguished members, the saints. In this newsletter I would like to recall just a few of the most remarkable resurrection miracles in the lives of the saints to show how beautifully they support—or ought to support—our faith in the literal historical truth of the Mosaic account of the special creation of all things in the beginning of time.
Resurrection Miracles in the Lives of the Saints
Many resurrection miracles have been recorded in the canonization processes of the saints during the last eight hundred years, but few saints have been credited with raising as many souls from the dead as the Apostle of India and Japan, St. Francis Xavier, as described in this article from the “Mystics of the Church” website:
The following miracle of St. Francis Xavier is recorded in the Relatio documented in the time of Pope Paul V. In the streets of Mutan, Francis met a funeral procession bearing the body of a youth who had died of a malignant fever. According to the custom of that area, the body had been kept for 24 hours wrapped in a shroud. Like Jesus with the widow of Naim, Francis pitied the bereaved parents; they pleaded with him.
The saint knelt down, raised his eyes to Heaven, and prayed to God for the lad's life. Then he sprinkled the covered corpse with holy water and ordered the funeral shroud cut open. When the body was visible, Francis made the Sign of the Cross over it, took the youth by the hand, and bade him in the Name of Jesus to live.
The youth rose up alive, and Francis gave him to his parents in good health. The crowd marveled and praised the holiness of Francis. The youth's parents and friends, in gratitude and memory of the deed, erected a great cross on the spot and held a festival there.
At another time, St. Francis was preaching at Coulon, near Cape Comorin in Travancore at the southern tip of India opposite Ceylon (Sri Lanka). This was a seaport, a rough town where many Christians dishonored their name. Francis, while preaching in the Portuguese church there, felt baffled and stymied by the wall of obstinacy he met in his hardhearted listeners.
Now it happened that a man had been buried in the church the day before. St. Francis stopped preaching; he prayed to God to honor the Blood and the Name of His Son and to soften the hearts of the congregation. Then he directed a few men to open the nearby grave of the man who had been buried the day before. He had prayed in tears, and now he accompanied his directions with the burning words of holy eloquence. He told the congregation how God was pleased even to raise the dead in order to convert them.
When they opened the tomb and brought out the body, it was already giving off a stench. On Francis' orders they tore apart the shroud-to find the body already beginning to putrefy. Francis expressed his desire that they should all take note of these facts. (They could hardly escape them!) Then the saint fell on his knees, made a short prayer, and commanded the dead man, in the Name of the Living God, to arise.
The man arose-alive, vigorous and in perfect health! The onlookers were filled with awe. Those who needed it fell at the saint's feet to be baptized, and a large number of people were converted because of this miracle.
The two miracles above were accepted by the auditors of the Rota as resting on incontrovertible evidence from two witnesses, Emanuel Gaga and Joam Audicondam, as well as from one "dead" person himself. These great miracles led almost the entire kingdom--except for the king and a few of his courtiers--to become Christians within a few months. And as Father Coleridge points out in his two-volume life of St. Francis Xavier, "We must take these miracles as but specimens."
These miracles certainly give great glory to God, but perhaps even more remarkable is the account of the raising of a girl who had been dead and buried for several days:
At Malacca St. Francis Xavier worked a miracle for someone who had been buried for several days. When Francis was away from the town, the daughter of a recently baptized woman died. The mother had sought Francis everywhere while the girl was still ill. When this earnest parent learned that Francis had returned, she was full of the simple faith that Francis, whom she was convinced could have healed her daughter--as he had cured people en masse¬could just as easily raise the girl from the dead. As Martha said to Jesus, "But now also I know that whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee." (John 11 :22).
When the mother found St. Francis she threw herself at his feet, and like Martha and Mary, exclaimed that if he had been there her daughter would not have died; nonetheless, nothing was difficult for God, and she knew that Francis, with his prayers, could return her to life. As Jesus had marveled at the faith of the Roman centurion and the Syrophoenician woman, St. Francis Xavier marveled at the faith and confidence of this recent convert.
Since the mother seemed so worthy of such a favor, Francis prayed for God to grant her this consolation. Then he turned to the mother and told her to go to the grave; her daughter was alive. Hopeful, fearful, not disbelieving, but because Francis had not offered to come himself to the tomb, she answered simply that the girl had been three days buried. But St. Francis had measured her testing tolerance.
She questioned St. Francis no further; with shining faith she ran rejoicing to the church where her daughter had been buried. At the burial place the mother, together with many other witnesses who had hurried there with her, had the stone raised from the grave. The dead daughter, buried three days, came out alive! As with the raising of Lazarus, no one could doubt the verity of such a miracle.
One must admire the tenacious faith of this newly converted woman. Such strong faith is seldom found. The great faith and wisdom of the apostle met and matched the faith of the mother, when he asked her to go to the tomb alone.
Please stop and reflect on these miracles for a moment. In every case, sufficient time had elapsed from the death of the resurrected person so that decomposition had progressed to varying degrees, in one case so that witnesses testified that “a stench” had already begun to emanate from the corpse. The Church asks all Catholics to believe that the miracles accepted as evidence in a canonization process actually happened—and these miracles testify that the disorganized matter of rotting corpses was instantly transformed by God into living breathing human bodies in answer to the prayers of the saints in the Name of Jesus! Yet most Catholic students today are taught that they are not to believe Moses—as did all of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church—when he tells us that God created Adam from the slime of the Earth by simply willing him into existence.
Could anything be more incoherent?
Animals Raised from the Dead
Perhaps a hardened skeptic might object that the special creation of Adam might be confirmed by these miracles but that they do not support the traditional faith of the Church in the special creation of plants and animals. However, a little familiarity with the lives of the saints will be enough to show our poor skeptic that animals, too, have been raised to life after being butchered and put to death. The TAN book Raised from the Dead by Fr. Albert Hebert, S.M., gives the following well-attested accounts:
...[St.] Martin [de Porres] brought back to life a dead dog, a long-time pet of the Dominican monastery in Lima. The dog had grown quite old, 18 years old, and had become mangy and smelly to boot. The animal was a pet of an older monk of the community, Brother John, who felt it his duty to destroy the dog. He ordered a Negro to do so. The Negro killed it with a blow from a stone that fractured its skull.
The man was dragging off the dead dog to dispose of it when he ran into Brother Martin. Martin reproved him severely, then carried the dog in his arms to his cell and laid it on the floor. As soon as the dog touched the floor it began to move and pulled itself to a sitting position. Then Martin washed the blood and dirt out of the wound and stitched the head together. The dog was cured of both the head wound and the mange. The old monk was very pleased to have his pet back; Martin humbly reproved him, stating that “he had not done well in ordering a companion of so many years to be killed.” This story was attested by three witnesses and presented during St. Martin’s canonization process.
St. Paul of the Cross (1694-1775) was once working on some soldiers at Portecole in an effort to reform their lives. One not only resisted conversion but made blasphemous and obscene remarks about the matter. The soldier had been sitting outside on a stone and been trying to draw a sentinel nearby into conversation and a game of cards. The other remonstrated with him, saying that the holy priest Paul might pass by at any moment.
The other soldier reacted strongly “I will be as soon converted as that ox returns to life!” He was referring to the lifeless body of a slaughtered ox that lay nearby. The butcher had already partially flayed it. But at the soldier’s unwise and irreverent remark, the ox rose up alive and ran with wild fury at the soldier sitting on the stone. He managed to escape, and the ox hit his own head on the stone where the soldier had been sitting a moment before. The stone was drenched with blood and the ox “died” there.
On another occasion, the saint was the guest at the house of Signore Goffredi, where a hen was served for dinner. St. Paul said, “You have done wrong to kill that poor animal, because with her eggs she was the support of a poor woman to whom she belonged. Let us do an act of charity. Open that window.” He then blessed the hen—already cooked as it was—in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. He has hardly pronounced the words when the hen returned to life, was covered with feathers, took wing and went off screaming out the window to the house of her poor mistress, from whom she had been stolen by the man who stole her. This miracle was recorded on oath by an eye witness.
It seems fitting to mention . . . the revivals of the pet trout, “Antonella,” and the pet lamb “Martinello,” by St. Francis of Paola.
One day Antonella was swimming around the pool, like a good fish should. A visiting priest helping with a religious service saw it, caught it, took it home, and began to fry it.
St. Francis missed the trout, and either realizing naturally or having superior knowledge of what had happened, he sent one of his religious to get it back. When the priest heard this request from the hermit sent by France, he was annoyed. He threw the cooked trout on the ground, the impact shattering it into several pieces.
When the hermit returned to St. Francis with the broken pieces, Francis placed them in the pool and prayed: “Antonella, in the Name of Charity, return to life!” The trout at once became whole again and happily began to swim about the pool. Friars and workers witnessed the miracle.
Later, at Bormes, as a guest in the home of the governor, Francis restored to life a cooked fish which his host had prepared for him, not realizing that Francis would hold himself to his very limited personal diet. On another occasion, from nothing but bones and fleece left and thrown into an oven, St. Francis of Paolo called back to life his pet lamb Martinello, which had been recently roasted and eaten by some nearby workmen.
In the light of these and many other well-attested miracles involving the raising of animals from the dead through the prayers of the saints, we might ask our skeptic: “Is it any harder to believe that God created the first creatures of the land, air and sea by willing them into existence ‘in the beginning’ than it is to believe that He raised the disorganized matter of their corpses and dismembered bodies to life, each according to its kind, in answer to the prayers of His saints?”
Merely to ask the question is to know the answer. To accept the sworn testimony of witnesses in a canonization process to the raising of animals from the dead by God’s divine creative action while rejecting the testimony of Moses to God’s creation of the various kinds of animals “in the beginning” is utterly incoherent!
Plant Miracles in the Lives of the Saint
Well, let us suppose that our poor skeptic in desperation protests that at least plant evolution remains a reasonable hypothesis notwithstanding the miracles in the lives of the saints. But we will have to disabuse him of that notion as well. There are just too many accounts of plant miracles in the canonization processes of God’s holy ones. Here are just three examples from Joan Caroll Cruz’s excellent work Mysteries, Marvels and Miracles:
We read that St. Elizabeth of Hungary (d. 1231) was one day accompanied by a favorite maidservant on an errand of mercy. Within her mantle St. Elizabeth was carrying bread, meat, eggs and other food to distribute to the poor. As they were traveling along, they encountered the Saint’s husband, who was returning from hunting. Count de Montalembert writes in the Saint’s biography:
Astonished to see her thus toiling under the weight of her burden, he said to her, “Let us see what you carry” and at the same time drew open the mantle which she held closely to her bosom; but beneath it were only red and white roses, the most beautiful he had ever seen—and this astonished him, as it was no longer the season for flowers. Seeing that Elizabeth was troubled, he sought to console her by his caresses . . .
After seeing a shining cross above St. Elizabeth’s head, he left “carrying with him one of those wonderful roses, which he preserved all his life.”
An almost similar situation occurred in the life of St. Germaine Cousin (d. 1601). One wintry day the maiden’s stepmother pursued her with a stick, loudly accusing her of stealing bread for the poor. The Saint was sternly ordered to open her apron. Tumbling out of the apron were fragrant roses of a variety unknown to the region. The bread that had been in the apron was only the meager portion given to Germaine for her meal. The Saint had indeed intended it for the poor. The witnesses of this event, Pierre Pailles and Jeanne Salaries, gave sworn testimony concerning this miracle.
When St. Rita of Cascia (d. 1457) was on her deathbed she was visited by one of her relatives from Roccaporena. As this cousin was about to leave she asked St. Rita if there was anything she wished from her native village. The Saint thanked her and said, “Since you are so kind, I ask you for the love of God to go down into the garden of our house and pick a rose there and bring it to me.” Thinking the Saint was delirious, the cousin smiled at the sisters present. It was then winter, a time when roses would not be expected to bloom. But on reaching the garden of the house at Roccaporena she found a rose in full bloom, with bright green leaves, surrounded by freezing snow.
Though not recorded in a canonization process, one of the best-attested and most wonderful miracles ever involving plants can be found in the accounts of the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe to St. Juan Diego. An account of the supernatural production of several different kinds of flowers in the course of the Apparitions can be found on the Kolbe website at this link.
On the strength of these few accounts, we will not hesitate to say to our skeptic: “If we are to believe that God made roses to appear in the folds of a mantle, or in an apron, or in the freezing snows of mid-winter, on what reasonable grounds could we deny the testimony of Moses that our Creator made all of the different kinds of plants spring up from the ground by His Word on the Third Day of Creation?”
Through the prayers of the Mother of God and of all the Saints, may all who teach the Holy Catholic Faith receive the grace to teach it whole and entire, coherently, and raise up the generation that will evangelize the whole world in the era of peace promised by Our Lady of Fatima!
Yours in Christ through the Immaculata in union with St. Joseph,
P.S. I am happy to announce that another one of our publications True Conception of the World on the cosmology of St. Hildegard of Bingen, Doctor of the Church, is now available as an audiobook in mp3 format at this link.