Small Miracles

On Saturday night, we went to a “Healing Service,” the third time I went to what I’d call a “Charismatic” healing service, with a fellow named Damian Stayne, and the first with a laymen and no sacramental aspect. I went because, though I accept my just suffering and try not to test God or seek out consolations, I so desperately want to sing again. I made the usual promise to seek the diaconate if God granted me my voice back, or for greater healing for Mary and me so we could bear another child. Of course, nothing dramatic happened. There were some apparent healings that took place–I saw many leaving very downcast, though.

I was deeply troubled–not by God. I understand how God works. I was troubled by the event. The fellow was deeply admired and recommended by people I admire. I was invited the last time he came through Augusta, and I declined.

What bothers me about Charismatic spirituality besides the consolation hunting that goes against the recommendations of the Carmelite Doctors–yet I also know some amazing Carmelites who are also Charismatics–is that they never make room for the importance of suffering, or the fact that God answers prayers in His own time. One thing that really impressed me was how Mr. Stayne pointed out that the man Sts. Peter and John heal in Acts (the chronologically last mention of the Beloved Disciple in Acts) has been laying outside the temple *his whole life*, and Jesus passed him by. At the same time as insisting that God has this “big bowl of healing” or some such and that He doesn’t pick and choose whom to heal, Stayne touched on the most important point.

Little Therese says that one of the reasons Jesus says “faith the size of a mustard seed” is that He works miracles to nourish small faith–people with no faith will ignore miracles (“your doctor was an idiot and read the test wrong,” “we mixed up the records,” etc.) For a person with a seed of faith, a miracle will water it. But for a person with a lot of faith, God tests them. She points out that Our Lord allows one of His best friends to die so He can work a greater miracle because He is testing the faith of Sts. Mary and Martha, and showing everyone else God’s glory.

Think about Mother Angelica: first, she was told she’d never walk. Then she prayed that if God let her walk, she’d start a monastery in the deep South–and she walked again *but with braces*. Forty years in braces. Then the time she was speaking in Florida, and a woman came up and said “Mother, your talk changed my life.”
“Really? What did I say that touched you?”
“I didn’t hear a word you said.”
“Uh, then how did my talk change your life?”
“Your braces. I have to wear leg braces, too, and all my friends tell me it’s because I don’t have enough faith. I saw you in leg braces, and I know you’re a woman of faith, so I know my friends are wrong.”
Of course, a few years later, she was healed of needing her braces. Then a couple years after that she had a massive stroke.

To someone with a fully formed understanding of suffering, and God’s purpose in showing His glory through miracles, Mother Angelica is a perfect example.

I wish a “healing service” would include those insights, so that people aren’t left with their faith devastated by empty promises.

It is wonderful when people are healded, and I believe Mr. Stayne is sincere and filling a role God has made for him. He said sometimes people come out of his services and something good happens days later. Maybe tomorrow morning will be that morning I’ve prayed for for as long as I can remember that I wake up and don’t need my glasses. However, in the meantime, I accept God’s will. I felt sorry for people who left seeming discouraged. I feel sorry for the fellow who prayed for me–he was really desperate to get me “total healing.” He was worried about *my* faith, and I tried to say how God has worked many healings in my life.

So, we were concerned about our kids’ reactions to the whole thing, and we were talking to them, and our son said, with a big smile, “He cured my asthma!” We were more concerned about the “big things,” and here he was joyful that, when he got bored with the 3+ hour service, and went running around in the front hall of the convention center, he could run without gasping for air.

Those are the little miracles that we need to see.

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4 responses to “Small Miracles

  1. Lewis, imagine the ‘miracle’ — accepting and welcoming suffering as did Jesus whose whole life included welcoming suffering and thereby defeating death. St. Paul continuously recalled his purpose in living, “I have been crucified with Christ, and the life I live now is not my own; Christ is living in me. I live my human life but it is a life of faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:19-20). Such faith is a bountiful blessing present every day. Fr. Tom Bartolomeo

    • Fr. Tom,
      Thank you for that beautiful comment. (Lewis was my miscarried unborn baby, BTW). I published a piece in Inside Catholic/Crisis a few years ago that they titled, “Ministry of Suffering.” I can’t post a link at the moment, but you might enjoy reading it (though it seems you don’t have to). 🙂

  2. I too am praying for healing for various issues. My mom has excruciatingly painful neuropathy. They don’t know what caused it, and it seems to get worse and worse. Every day is agony for her.
    I also pray that I can have another child after two miscarriages in the past two years. I had two miscarriages years ago, but we do have the blessing of other healthy living children, for which I am grateful. I am a faithful Catholic, and I know the value of suffering, but it’s super hard for my mom, also a faithful Catholic. Her constant agony really takes its toll and leaves her distraught and without hope at times. I know my miscarried children are in heaven, and God has a plan for all of us, but I still get extremely sad at times. I will pray that you and your wife may have another child, and that you experience a miracle of healing in your family, especially for your daughter. Will you please pray for my mother and me? (I too live in Georgia, and incidentally, I am a huge Mother Angelica fan. I took some of my children to pray for her before her funeral when the visitation occurred the day before. What a blessing!)
    God bless,
    Kathy

    • Thank you for your kind comment. My blog is named for our second child, whom we miscarried, Lewis Stephen. He was conceived on the Feast of Stephen. My wife is a teacher, and I’m disabled, so we tried to schedule our children’s births for summer or at least Christmas breaks. We “goofed” in our NFP that time around and while wondering whether we might have conceived, we kept seeing variants of the name “Louis” come up in strange places–like stopping at a small church near an Interstate Exit called St. Louis (that we’ve never located since). We’d talked about the name for our next child because my wife’s beloved uncle Lewis (pictured above) had passed away, I’m a C. S. Lewis expert, and the devotion to the various Sts. Louis pictured above). Then, sadly, we miscarried. We had three more children, then my health, which had been precarious to begin with, took a huge downturn, and my wife started having health problems, so it would truly take miraculous healings for us to prudently have another child at this point.

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