Saint Augustine taught something to the effect that many spectacular ordinary events would be deemed miracles if they occurred but rarely in history. I think he gave the example of a sunrise. In saying this, he was attempting to lift the minds of his flock to contemplate the wisdom and power of the Creator, who does unfathomably great things continuously in the order of nature, but especially in the order of grace. “The conversion of one sinner,” the holy doctor said, “is a greater act of omnipotence than the creation of the universe.”
A miracle, therefore, must be either preternatural or supernatural. A miracle of grace, such as a sudden conversion of a notoriously evil man, would be a supernatural miracle because, even though the act of conversion is invisible, it manifested by visible acts. All other miracles are divine interferences with the physical laws of nature. They are preternatural, which means beyond nature, and visible. Matters of Faith, such as Our Lord’s presence in the Blessed Sacrament, is a mystery, not a miracle, because the Reality is not visible to the human eye.
The power for miracles can only come from God, but God can share this power with His saints. Miracles can be above the laws of nature: such as the raising to life of a dead man. Jesus gave this kind of power to His Apostles. Miracles can be contrary to the laws of nature, such as Moses splitting the Red Sea or causing water to issue from a rock. The sun dancing in the sky at Fatima, and not elsewhere, is contrary to the laws of nature. Miracles can be independent of natural law, such as a miraculous cure of a deaf man, or a blind man, or the physical cure of any other affliction that is beyond the capacity for ordinary medicines or treatments to effect. Sometimes these kinds of cures are contrary to nature as well, such as a person with no pupil in his eye being able to see.
Can evil people, or demons, work miracles? Only to a certain extent. In the former case, the preternatural prodigy is done by demons through a human instrument, such as the miracles of Pharaoh’s magicians. Our Lord Himself quotes a certain group of those about to be damned as pleading before Him, “But we have worked miracles in thy name.” When St. Joseph Cupertino levitated off the floor, it was not the angels lifting him up, but the angelic purity of his own soul rapt in ecstasy with God and putting gravity to naught. When medicine doctors in pagan lands levitate off the ground it is a demon doing the lifting.
Apparitions are different than miracles. The person viewing the apparition with the human eye is seeing an angel or a departed soul, but under a material human form, or they may be seeing a glorified body, such as that of Our Blessed Mother, who has come to her children in countless apparitions. But these visions are not necessarily miraculous for the one receiving them, unless a person in the same place could not see the apparition. Bi-locations, on the other hand, are certainly miraculous, as they are contrary to nature.
“Listen and let it penetrate your heart…do not be troubled or weighed down with grief. Do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain. Am I not here who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and … Continue reading →