Miracles: What Do they Mean?04.16.18
Dr. John Cavadini, professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame, delivered a Hesburgh Lecture before a packed room at the Bartlett Pastoral Center at the Athenaeum on April 12.
One reason many people are fascinated by miracles, Dr. John Cavadini said, is that “at the back of our minds we think if we see a true miracle, we wouldn’t need faith anymore – we would just believe.”
Cavadini, a professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame, delivered a Hesburgh Lecture before a packed room at the Bartlett Pastoral Center at the Athenaeum on April 12. The lecture was jointly sponsored by the Athenaeum, the University of Notre Dame Alumni Association, and the Notre Dame Club of Greater Cincinnati.
In “Do You Believe in Miracles?” he explained that miracles don’t and can’t produce belief. Like sacraments, they point to something greater than themselves. Grasping and accepting that greater truth, he said, leads to faith.
Beginning by saying that miracles do happen, Cavadini said that Catholics are often silent about them in public. “We think you can ‘overdo’ miracles,” he said. “I’ve come to the conclusion, especially after teaching all these years, that you can ‘underdo’ them.” Downplaying the miraculous can make skeptics seem correct when they say that miracles are impossible, he explained, when we can point to a number of recent, thoroughly documented miracles to show that they do occur.
“A miracle is a wonder that is a sign, signifying something else,” he said. The miracle of the Wedding Feast at Cana, Cavadini said, points to the wedding of Christ, the bridegroom, and his people, the Church. The miracle of Jesus feeding thousands points to Jesus multiplying Himself, and feeding many billions, in the Eucharist. The miracle of the Man Born Blind points to baptism.
The apparent randomness of miracles, Cavadini said, shows us that they are meant as universal signs. “If [I] were the Savior, I’d heal all the rich and famous,” he joked. “That way everyone would hear and believe! But what would that say about God? That He loves the rich and famous more. Miracles seem to have a sort of preferential option for the poor – because the poor are us, they’re us without anything. And what is a physical healing, after all? It doesn’t save you. You’re still going to die. A miraculous healing for one person isn’t a reward for virtuous, it’s a sign of the greater healing of salvation, which is for everyone.”
Click the following link to see a photo gallery from Dr. Cavadini's lecture at http://www.mtsm.org/PhotoGalleries/PhotoGallery78.aspx
Text Credit: Gail Finke
Photo Credit: E.L. Hubbard Photography http://www.elhubbard.com/