instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Monday, March 20, 2006

The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder

What can those who have eyes to see -- which ought to include everyone who is baptized -- actually see these days?

Can they see the literally blind literally regain their sight, the literally lame literally walk?

Well, maybe, sometimes. I've met the woman whose eyesight recovery is being considered for the canonization of Bl. Margaret of Castello. Most people probably know someone who knows someone who experienced a medically inexplicable recovery.

Of course, materialists will be quick to point out that "medically inexplicable" refers to what the medical community happens to know today, not to what actually does have a material cause. And almost anything can happen to happen; it has to happen to happen often enough before it's something science can say something about.

Far more often, I suspect, those with eyes to see see things that leave materialists, not sputtering about what Science might learn in the next decade, but chuckling over the enduring superstitions of the simple-minded. All the little coincidences, ironies, synchronicities, and irruptions that come your way and remind you that God exists, that He is with you, that He loves you, that He calls you to Him: what will the materialist make of these things?

What do we make of them, when the pious old ladies at church tell us how, after a novena to St. Anthony, they've never had a problem finding a parking spot? What, for that matter, do we make of such things when our New Age sister-in-law starts talking about meeting the reincarnation of someone or other, or lucidly dreaming about a car crash that actually happened?

There's a scale of credulity, and everyone believes he occupies just the right spot between blind superstition and blind incredulity. But how do the incredulous tell us from the superstitious, and vice versa?

Let me make three suggestions.

First, we see by faith, which opens us to seeing a lot that science can't quite make out, and which prevents us from falling for certain superstitious traps. We might keep in mind, though, that with a faith-enhanced vision we can't prove we're seeing what is really there.

Second, I may not be shown everything you see, nor you everything I see. The subtle messages, the gentle whisper God so often speaks to us in, may not be intended to be overheard.

Third, we should not become attached to seeing God, even as our vision of Him becomes more acute, or we might be caught blind in a dark night.