Fulton Sheen was born on May 8th, 1895 and died on December 9th, 1979 shortly after undergoing open heart surgery. He was a priest who evangelized on a television series called Life is Worth Living where he spoke about faith and criticized communism. He also wrote several books including Ways to Inner Peace, The Power of Love, and Communism and the Conscience of the West. He served as a a Bishop in Rochestor, New York and in 1969 he became archbishop of Newport, Wales. He also was Pope Paul VI as assistant to the Pontifical Throne. In 2012, Benedict XVI declared Fulton Sheen as venerable for living a life of holy virtue and recently in July 2019, Pope Francis confirmed a miracle interceded by Fulton Sheen which has opened up a case for his possible beatification.
Don Alvaro was the Prelate of Opus Dei. Opus Dei is an organization in the Catholic Church founded by Saint Josemaria Escriva who advocates that everyone can attain sanctity in their daily lives. Opus Dei is a personal prelature meaning that it is a group within the Church that has more flexibility and freedom to carry out their mission. It is made up of lay people and priests who are dedicated to spreading the spirit of Opus Dei around the world.
“What Is Opus Dei?” FAQ, http://www.opusdei.org/en-us/faq/.
Don Alvaro was born in Madrid on March 11, 1914. Alvaro and two other men were the first priests to join Opus Dei in 1935. He was elected as Saint Josemarias successor after his death in 1975. In 1982, Opus Dei officially became a prelature of the Catholic Church and John Paul II named him the Prelate. Don Alvaro was known for his love for the Church, trust in God as a father (divine filiation), charity and sense of humor.
Opusdei.org. “Biography of Bishop Alvaro.” Biography of Bishop Alvaro – Opus Dei, 21 Mar. 2014, opusdei.org/en-sg/article/biography-of-bishop-alvaro/.
He died in 1994 and was declared blessed in September 27th, 2014.
Saint John Paul II was a polish priest who served as pope for about twenty-six years (1978-2005). He was a young and dynamic pope who travelled all over the world to spread the demonstrate his support for the universal church. He wrote many encyclicals to clarify Catholic teachings and helped correctly interpret the decisions made in the second Vatican council. Saint John Paul II also played a crucial role in the fight against communism in Eastern Europe. He also warned the west of the evil that materialism. In his final years as pope, Saint John Paul II suffered from Parkinson’s disease. After his death in 2005, he was beatified on May 1, 2011 and canonized on April 27, 2014.
Blakemore, William B. “Political and Cultural Messages.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 24 June 2019, http://www.britannica.com/biography/Saint-John-Paul-II/Political-and-cultural-messages.
So far I have researched the definition of a miracle and how it is confirmed in the Catholic Church. I have also referenced some famous miracles and sites (Lourdes) in which miracles have taken place. Now that some of the terms have been defined, it is time to dig deeper into the a few specific miracles.
My capstone paper will investigate the miracles interceded by St. John Paul II, Blessed Don Alvaro, and Fulton Sheen. There will be an in-depth analysis on the medical aspect of the miracles and how they were each confirmed as a miracle. The illness that was cured will also be looked at to provide context.
Two miracles have been confirmed under the intercession of John Henry Newman who could now be declared a saint in the near future. In 2010, he was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI after his first miracle was confirmed in which he healed a deacon of a disableing spine condition. In the second miracle, a pregnant woman was diagnosed with a fatal illness that she spontaneously recovered from. Her doctor’s were not able to provide a medical explanation for her sudden recovery. The event was examined and confirmed by the Archdiocese of Chicago. To establish John Henry Newman’s sainthood the cure needs to be approved by a committee of bishops and then Pope Francis has to declare that he is a saint.
Who is John Henry Newman?
John Henry Newman was an Anglican priest, a writer, and an educator. He was well known before his conversion making it very controversial and leading to a lot of his friends to reject him. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 1847 and a Cardinal in 1879. During his priesthood, he founded two schools and lived a life of integrity. Today, there are “newman centers” established in Catholic and Non-Catholic universities in honor of John Henry Newman that promote the same spirit of education with Christ.
Rousselle, Christine. “Vatican Approves Second Miracle for Blessed John Henry Newman.” Catholic News Agency, Catholic News Agency, 28 Nov. 2018, http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/vatican-approves-second-miracle-for-blessed-john-henry-newman-87278.
In Lourdes, France there is a shrine that many pilgrims and tourists visit regularly. The Virgin Mary visited Bernadette Soubirous 18 times encouraging her to “pray and do penance for the conversion of the world”. After the shrine was constructed many who visited were cured of their illnesses. In 1882, a medical bureau was established made up of about five-hundred medical professionals with various beliefs.
“Miracles of Lourdes.” Miracles of Lourdes, olrl.org/stories/lourdes.shtml.
While there are over 7000 miracle claims as a result of Lourdes, 67 have been validated.
“List of Approved Lourdes Miracles.” Miracle Hunter: Lourdes – List of Approved Miracles, http://www.miraclehunter.com/marian_apparitions/approved_apparitions/lourdes/miracles1.html.
In the case of a miracle at Lourdes, there are specific criteria that need to be met in order for a cure to be cofirmed as a miracle. The patient miracle must have been accurately diagnosed of their illness, the cure must be immediate and complete, and the treatment of the illness ineffective. Pilgrims who are sick are often accompanied by a doctor who has a file regarding the individuals condition. In the case of a cure, the person is sent to a medical office and his file must be submitted. It is then analysed on the same day, by members of the medical profession. If there is agreement by at least 3/4ths, the case is sent to the Lourdes Medical Committee. This committee consists of thirty specialists including surgeons and professionals from several countries who assess the patient over the years. The cure is then sent to the Church authorities and the bishop of the patient’s diocese is informed. At this point, the case is already said to be extraordinary in science and without any medical explanation. It is the duty of the bishop to gather a diocesan committee of priests, canonists, and theologians to examine the case according to the rules outlined by Pope Benedict XIV (before he was pope) in his treatise “Concerning the Beatification and Canonization of the Servants of God (Book IV, Part I, Chapter VIII No. 2). Then and only then, can the bishop publicly declare that this event was most likely a miracle.
Null. “How Lourdes Cures Are Recognized as Miraculous – ZENIT – English.” ZENIT, 1 Jan. 2016, zenit.org/articles/how-lourdes-cures-are-recognized-as-miraculous/.
The article that I read had several quotes and data points that would be great to source in my paper.
“For the cure to be considered miraculous, the disease must be serious and impossible (or at least very difficult) to cure by human means and not be in a stage at which it is liable to disappear shortly by itself. No medical treatment must have been given, or it must be certain that the treatment given has no reference to the cure. The healing must be spontaneous, complete and permanent.” This is a quote by Michael O’Neil, the founder of MiracleHunter.com.
This article had a great quote from the CCC: “the miracles of Christ and the saints, prophecies, the Church’s growth and holiness, and her fruitfulness and stability ‘are the most certain signs of divine Revelation, adapted to the intelligence of all’; they are ‘motives of credibility’ (motiva credibilitatis), which show that the assent of faith is ‘by no means a blind impulse of the mind.’” (CCC 156). It does a great job explaining the Church’s stance on the existence and purpose of miralces.
The amount of claims drastically surpasses the number of confirmed miracles. According to “the Lourdes Medical Commission, while documenting over 8,000 extraordinary cures, has only validated  of them.”
Kosloski, Philip. “This Is How Miracles Are Approved by the Church.” Aleteia, Aleteia, 14 May 2018, aleteia.org/2018/05/14/this-is-how-miracles-are-approved-by-the-church/.
A saint is someone in heaven who can intercede for those still on earth. If two miracles are confirmed as valid by the Church after someone’s death, they can be declared a saint. However, this requirement has only come about recently, during the time of Saint John Paul II. It is speculated that already the importance of miracles has already decreased since then. Although it is still in the criteria to declare someone a saint, more emphasis is being placed on the sanctity of that person during their time on earth.
The Vatican has appointed a miracle commission made up of theological and scientific experts to investigate claims for miracles. According to Michael O’Neil, who runs the website MiracleHunter.com, almost every miracle confirmed by the Church is a medical miracle. In order to be confirmed, there must be no chance that could nature could cause the same outcome. It is not a miracle if someone is cured of a disease in which they had a chance of naturally being cured. To attribute a miracle towards someone’s canonization, the individuals praying for the cure can only have asked for the intercession of one person to avoid confusion of who to give credit for the miracle.
During his reign as pope, Saint John Paul II suffered many attacks to his physical health including an assassination attempt, and Parkinson’s disease. After his death, a French nun was cured of Parkinsons and a Costa Rican woman recovered randomly from a serious brain injury. These miracles were confirmed and were used in his case for canonization.
Ghose, Tia. “The Science of Miracles: How the Vatican Decides.” LiveScience, Purch, 9 July 2013, http://www.livescience.com/38033-how-vatican-identifies-miracles.html.
A miracle is a gift or fruit of the Holy Spirit that is perceived by the senses and does not abide by the order of nature. For example, a miracle can disobey the law of the conservation of matter as in the multiplication of loaves in the New Testament. If a circumstance can be replicated within the bounds of nature, it is not a miracle. Although humans can disrupt the order of nature, they cannot break the order of nature. Therefore, any situation in which the order of nature has been broken is a divine act. However, acts of God such as creation and the sacraments are not miracles because they belong to the order of divine providence and are beyond the senses.
Miracles can occur as a result of prayer and petitioning for intercession through use of relics or visits to holy sites. God can perform a miracle directly or by instruments. When God uses an instrument to perform a miracle, that instrument does not have the power to implement the miracle again at will.
.“Miracle.” EWTN, 1996, http://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/library/miracle-10338.
The effect of a miracle can only be to enhance the good of man or it is not a miracle. The purpose of a miracle is to teach, provide evidence to confirm the truth of the divine mission, and verify the sanctity of the saints. Miracles have always occurred throughout all of time. In the Old Testament, God used Moses to perform miracles to display his power and love for His chosen people. In the New Testament, Jesus performed miracles to help Christians to grasp God’s nature and mission more fully and illustrate the power of faith and prayer. When Jesus heals the paralytic, he shows that he has the power to forgive sins. His multiplication of loaves symbolizes the eucharist and raising people from the dead foreshadowed his ressurection and victory over sin and death. Finally, Jesus gave bestowed the ability to perform miracles to his apostles and those who believed in him.
Miracles help bring people to the Catholic Church because the miracle has an effect on not only the recipient of the miracle but those around him and those who come to believe as a result.
“Gift of Miracles.” EWTN, 1996, http://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/library/gift-of-miracles-10339.
According to an encyclical written by Saint John Paul II, miracles are investigated and confirmed by the sacred congregation and are a key part in the process of canonization. The sacred congregation is a committee that is led by a cardinal prefect. They are involved in the process of canonizing saints by setting guidlines, thoroughly studying each case, and voting on it.
While investigating a miracle for canonization, the sacred congregation follows a procedure in which a case is prepared and discussed among the medical experts who study those who have been healed by a miracle. It is then discussed between a theological committee and a group of cardinals and bishops. It is finally reported to the Supreme Pontiff who has the authority to either reject or validate the case.
“Divinus Perfectionis Magister (January 25, 1983): John Paul II.” Divinus Perfectionis Magister (January 25, 1983) | John Paul II, w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/apost_constitutions/documents/hf_jp-ii_apc_25011983_divinus-perfectionis-magister.html.