The answer to the question of whether miracles still happen in the Catholic Church has always raised follow-up questions in my mind. Yes, I know that miracles still happen in the Catholic Church, but if so why are so many Catholics still into idolatry, consulting gods and mallams everywhere at the sight of any small problem? Why do many Catholics not hear about these miracles?
How important are miracles in the Catholic Church and in our relationship with God?
I believe that our relationship with God should not be one where we always ask and ask and ask to receive miracles, but it should be mainly one of worship, for Jesus Christ our Lord said in Luke 12:29-31 that we should seek first the Kingdom of Heaven and its righteousness and all other things shall be added unto us. But I also believe that miracles are very essential in the spiritual development of any Christian. Without miracles, we would not be able to trust in God.
For example, in the Old Testament, the only way that God was able to make the Israelites and peoples of other nations believe and recognize that He was the almighty God was through miracles. We can mention a few instances as the exodus (deliverance from slavery in Egypt) – Exodus 5ff, Moses and the burning bush – Exodus 3, when the Israelites miraculously won battles – Exodus 14, Exodus 17:8-16, Judges 7, etc.
In the New Testament, though people were moved to Jesus by His preaching, there is no doubt that a lot of people were moved to Jesus because of His miracles, e.g. “…"What kind of man is this?" they said. "Even the winds and the waves obey him!"” – Matthew 8:23-27; if he were not the son of God he wouldn’t be able to work these miracles, etc. Even after His death on the cross, people exclaimed, “This man truly was the son of God.” – Matthew 27:54
On the day of Pentecost, 3000 people were converted by the preaching of Peter, but later many more were converted through miracles. E.g. Paul and Silas in prison – Acts 16:16-34, Ananias and his wife – Acts 5:1-12.
All these events and miracles revealed the mighty hand of God and made people believe that He was the true God and that He was mighty and able to deliver. The Israelites only believed and had trust in their God because of the miracles that He worked in their lives; many people believed that Jesus was the son of God because of the miracles that He performed (wedding of Cana - John 2:11); and many people believed that the apostles and their followers were serving the living God because of the wonders that were worked through them (they were able to overpower the powers of darkness).
The above testify that miracles are very important in Christian development. Therefore, I think it is necessary that Catholics are made to hear about the numerous miracles that are happening in the Church, in the lives of individuals who have surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ and experienced His miracles. This will go a long way to help remove their ignorance and bolster their faith and trust in God. I believe that many Catholics stream to shrines and mallams because they have not been exposed enough to the power of God (they live in ignorance about the power of God). I can recount one live example.
Live example of ignorance
Two Christian women who were working in the same organization had a fight. Woman #1 told woman #2, “We shall see.” One day while woman #2 was in her room writing, with her door closed, woman #1 suddenly appeared behind her, with the door still closed as it was. Woman #1 told woman #2, “I told you that we would see,” and left the room.
Woman #2 reported the case to their superiors at their work place. The superiors after talking to them assured woman #2 that everything was okay. However, not long after that woman #2 was travelling in a vehicle to a funeral with other passengers when the vehicle hit a tree and only woman #2 fell out of the vehicle and died. None of the other passengers was even bruised.
Woman #2 showed a very high degree of ignorance by reporting the problem to the work place. This was a spiritual problem that was supposed to be handled spiritually and not physically. From my observation, I can see that many Catholics, at least in the diocese in which I am, are in this kind of state of ignorance.
How to correct ignorance in the Catholic Church
This ignorance can only be addressed by telling the people about the wonders and miracles that God is performing in His Church. Again, from observation, most Catholics do not turn up for programs organized during the week meant to help us know more about our faith and to strengthen our faith in the Lord. On Sunday three masses are said in a parish and the church is filled to capacity in all of them, but when a program is organized during the week, you may not have up to 30 people turning up for it. This therefore makes it impossible for the wonders and miracles that God is working among His of people in the Church to be communicated to people during programmes organized during the week.
Therefore the best place where the miracles and wonders of God can be transmitted is during mass!
Importance of the mass
By saying this, I am not undermining what the mass is and how sacred it is. I recognize the fact that the mass is the center of all Christian worship. According to Fr. Paul Sullivan in his book The Wonders of the Mass, “the mass is the greatest wonder in the world. There is nothing on earth equal to it, and there is nothing in heaven greater than it. The next greatest wonder is the indifference and ignorance of Catholics regarding Holy Mass.” In the same book he says, "the first condition for hearing mass well is to understand thoroughly the infinite sanctity of the Holy Sacrifice and the graces it obtains.” Again he writes, “One mass heard with understanding and devotion obtains for us more graces than a hundred, than thousand masses heard carelessly and in ignorance of what the mass is.” Also The conciliar Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium encouraged the faithful to take part in the eucharistic liturgy not "as strangers or silent spectators," but as participants "in the sacred action, conscious of what they are doing, actively and devoutly" (156). These statements indicate that though the mass is so important, one misses a lot of precious graces when one hears mass without full understanding and reverence. Many Catholics hear mass in ignorance and without enough reverence because they don’t know what the mass is worth. Even though I have had a deep appreciation for the mass, it was after reading Fr O’Sullivan’s book that I gained a deeper insight to and appreciation for the mass and I believe that I will now receive more graces at mass than before.
But how many Catholics read Catholic books? And as stated above, how many Catholics attend week day programs that are designed to expose them to some of these things? But there is the need for them to know. I believe that God will be more honoured and more pleased if the mass is used to teach people to have more faith in him and to revere him better at mass than to have people follow rituals all the time and those rituals having little impact on their lives!
Therefore I will like to plead with the leaders of the Church to reconsider the mass; whether it is better to always go to church to follow certain laid down rituals which most Catholics do not even understand and appreciate or it is better to make room for certain things which are needed by Catholics for their spiritual growth and which can only get to the larger community at mass, to be introduced from time to time as necessary. An example is allowing some time during mass, especially before the final blessing is given for people to give testimonies that will strengthen the faith of others.
I believe that if this is done, there will be a great change in the lives of many Catholics and more importantly in their relationship with God.
God bless all His shepherds. Amen.