Q&A: Why do we not see more examples of God’s power on display within Catholic communities?

All questions come from parishioners of Sacred Heart Parish or St. Joseph Mission and they are presented to you anonymously. Questions and answers were presented in the Series “Because You Asked” from 2016.
Average Time to Read: 4 minutes

Question:

We believe as Catholics that Christ is substantially present (body, blood, soul and divinity) in the Eucharist and as contained within the tabernacle. Why then do we not have a stronger sense of God’s power emanating from the people who receive the Eucharist and even from the church building itself. I have seen various examples of God’s power on display among Pentecostals and other non-Catholic Christians who do not believe in or receive the Eucharist. Why do we not see more examples of God’s power on display within Catholic communities?

Answer:

This question, which I have paraphrased, well expresses what I have long considered to be one of the Catholic Church’s greatest scandals. Although we are not given over to displays of emotionalism or sensationalism within our traditional worship we really should still see more transformation in people’s lives and more signs of divine power in our world because the Eucharist really is “the source and summit of our faith”. One of the reasons why we do not is that many are in mortal sin when they receive the Eucharist or are not properly disposed to receive it. These obstacles prevent the power of the Eucharist from bearing fruit in our lives. When we are not properly disposed what we are saying is that we have not fully surrendered to God so as to give Him the “green light” to fully invade our hearts and lives so that we might be used as an instrument of grace. Put more simply, we do not have the desire to change much less to become more holy. We want business as usual and not something shockingly different or scary in our lives. Spiritual transformation requires a docile heart that is willing to be led and many times we do not receive him with that mindset and so his power is frustrated, as he refuses to use us against our own will. I have seen Catholics, for example, who have experienced charismatic prayer for the first time reacting in fear because they are not comfortable with our faith demonstrating those kinds of outward signs. I think of a scene from the movie “A Leap of Faith” where a traveling con-man faith healer reacts in this way when he actually experiences someone being authentically and miraculously healed. And in many cases, in a humbling way, those who have been given objectively less have done more with it, simply through the power of the Holy Spirit outside the sacramental structure. We even see this among non-Christians who, at times, achieve great natural virtue and courage to overcome evil in the world without even knowing the Trinity. That being said, there really are many signs of miracles to be witnessed within the Catholic Church if you have eyes to see. It is just that most are hidden under the disguise of ordinary life as Catholics are sustained in the day to day works of charity. If you want to see signs that most would classify as more supernatural in nature, however, we have plenty of examples to consider. If one were to investigate the modern day “X-Files” of the Catholic Church they might be shocked by the Eucharistic miracles, apparitions, exorcisms and other such phenomena that take place. I am often baffled at why the secular news does not cover these stories more closely. Take for example St. Padre Pio who was marked by the mystical signs of the stigmata and who was seen to have levitated, bilocated, and to have read souls on a daily basis, all during World War II in modern times. Hundreds of thousands of witnesses as well as modern photography testify to this. There are tens of thousands of saints who performed miracles during their own lifetime and, even after their deaths, have had multiple miracles attributed to them. Those of more ancient origin have often been simply dismissed as mythology by modern man . However, many of these miracles have taken place in our times; the age of science and modern media. Many of these are not just miraculous but mind-boggling. For example, the miracle accepted for the canonization of Bishop Fulton Sheen involved the recovery of a stillborn child who remained dead for 61 minutes after delivery in 2010. No doctor on the scene could medically explain this and they attributed it as unexplainable by science. I have read of other carefully studied miracles involving the regrowing or limbs, cures for leprosy and AIDS and other miraculous examples in our modern times. Last of all, because the parishioner’s question was specifically based around the power of the Eucharist, I think specifically of Bl. Imelda Lambertini who in 1333 died at the moment of her 1st Communion. She was often on record as saying she could not understand how someone could receive the Eucharist and live if it is what we believe it to be. In her day 1st Communion was restricted to 12 yr. olds but at age 11 during a 1st Communion service many witnessed a host levitating toward her. The priest in the moment had no choice but to allow her to receive it, after which she immediately dropped dead of joy. That is power! And if we have never experienced even the most basic transformation in our lives we really do need to ask ourselves whether or not we are the reason it has not happened to us. Are we standing in the way of God’s power?

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