Do I dare pray for miracles? How big or small?
by Father Dale Kinzler
Father Dale Kinzler
This is a question I recently asked of myself, and no doubt many other people ask the same. It occurred to me to ask this while we were observing the 100th anniversary of the “Miracle of the Sun” at Fatima on Oct. 13, 1917. The event was witnessed by over 70,000 people gathered in anticipation of Our Lady’s promise that she would “perform a miracle so that all may believe” the apparitions and the messages she was sharing with the three young children.
That stupendous event is described by witnesses:
The rains that had plagued the day ceased, and the sun emerged from behind clouds to spin and tremble for 10 minutes.
“Before the astonished eyes of the crowd, whose aspect was biblical as they stood bareheaded, eagerly searching the sky, the sun trembled, made sudden incredible movements outside all cosmic laws — the sun ‘danced’ according to the typical expression of the people,” reported O Seculo, a Lisbon newspaper.
That kind of major public miracle is obviously a rare occurrence, but it is meant to instill a deeper faith in the heart of believers, and to help non-believers come to faith. Such are the miracles we see Jesus work as recorded in the Gospels, from healing the fever of Peter’s mother-in-law to raising Lazarus from the dead.
I have chosen this topic because I just experienced a humorous example of a “minor miracle.” This occurred on Oct. 13, just after we had celebrated Mass with a holy hour in honor of the Fatima Centennial. After sharing a brief summary of the Fatima events and preaching on the chosen Scriptures, I said to those gathered, “Miracle enough for me would be to see our Griggs County Titans football team score two touchdowns tonight.”
To set the stage for my comment, you need to realize that victory is quite rare for our Titans team, and in fact scoring touchdowns is also quite a challenge. We had lost to Langdon 55-0 the week before, and on Oct. 13 we were playing against the Carrington Cardinals. I thought praying for victory would be quite presumptuous in that circumstance, but how about some nice scoring at least?
After our Mass and Holy Hour, I went to the game. To my surprise and delight, I found the halftime score was 49-10. So our Titans already had one touchdown and a field goal, more than I am used to seeing. The Cardinals scored quickly again in the second half, making it 55-10. Then came the “minor miracle.” On the ensuing kickoff, our returner slipped through no less than seven would-be tacklers to reach the end zone for our second touchdown! The 55-17 score held through the rest of the game. I shared this incident at Mass the following Sunday and followed it up by blurting out, “I’m a believer!”
Seriously, it is good for us to pray with faith in matters great and small, and to trust that God will grant what is good for our well-being. Sometimes that is healing of a physical illness, other times it is the gift of patience to bear our share of the Cross of Christ. I have personally experienced some extraordinary instances of healing in the lives of persons for whom we have prayed, and experienced many seeming “failures” when we prayed for divine assistance.
In the section on Christian Prayer, our Catechism of the Catholic Church cites these references to our Church Fathers:
“Do not be troubled if you do not immediately receive from God what you ask him; for he desires to do something even greater for you, while you cling to him in prayer.”
“God wills that our desire should be exercised in prayer, that we may be able to receive what he is prepared to give” (CCC 2737).
The miracles of Jesus, as recorded in the Gospels, attest that he is the Son of God sent by the Father. “They invite belief in him. To those who turn to him in faith, he grants what they ask. So miracles strengthen faith in the One who does the Father’s works” (CCC 548).
“Nevertheless, he did not come to abolish all evils here below, but to free men from the gravest slavery, sin, which thwarts them in their vocation as God’s sons and causes all forms of human bondage” (CCC 549).
So regardless of our particular favorite team’s victory or loss in the world of sports, and whether or not we are in perfect health or beset with difficulties, we will do well to focus our prayer on the victory over sin and death for which Christ came and suffered and died. Moreover, God will grant many miraculous signs along the way, in order to keep us focused in pursuit of that goal of life in the Resurrection.
Father Kinzler serves as the pastor of St. George’s Catholic Church in Cooperstown as well as pastor of Sacred Heart, Aneta; St. Olaf’s parish, Finley; and St. Lawrence’s parish, Jessie. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s Note: If you have a question about the Catholic faith and would like to submit a question for consideration in a future column, please send to email@example.com with “Ask a Priest” in the subject line or mail to New Earth, 5201 Bishops Blvd. S, Suite. A, Fargo, ND 58104, Attn: Ask a Priest.