In the 2004 movie, Millions, seven-year-old Damian Cunningham sets out with his father and older brother to establish a new life following the death of his mother. A pious and prayerful Catholic school boy, Damian has a fondness for the lives of the saints and an equally powerful zeal for serving the poor. Set within a fictional time period when the Bank of England was converting to the Euro (they didn’t), Damian is seen playing outside one day when a bag of money is tactically thrown from a train destined for a thief that has yet to arrive. For much of the movie, unbeknownst to his father, Damian is seen giving the treasure away—to the needy poor. Along the way, he is viewed conversing with the likes of Sts. Clare and Francis of Assisi, St. Peter, St. Joseph, and St. Nicholas. But as others become aware of the existence of the money, their desire for more “practical” uses of the currency leaves Damian at a crossroad. Near the end of the movie, he is seen dumping the money onto the railroad tracks near his house and setting it afire. As he does so, his mother appears and invites him to sit and talk. While seated next to his mom, this young boy with eyes constantly focused upon Jesus and His faithful friends, asks her THE question. “Have you entered heaven?” To which his mother says—yes. Aware that the Catholic Church requires evidence of miracles before one is declared a saint, Damian asks her yet another question. “What was your miracle?” And while gently looking deeply into her son’s eyes, she notes: “My miracle was you!”
The Catholic Encyclopedia notes that: “A miracle is said to be above nature when the effect produced is above the native powers and forces in creatures of which the known laws of nature are the expression, as raising a dead man to life, e.g., Lazarus (John 11), the widow’s son (1 Kings 17). A miracle is said to be outside, or beside, nature when natural forces may have the power to produce the effect, at least in part, but could not of themselves alone have produced it in the way it was actually brought about. Thus the effect in abundance far exceeds the power of natural forces, or it takes place instantaneously without the means or processes which nature employs.”
Today, however, how often do we hear others boldly proclaim that miracles are a thing of fairy tales? Sadly, in their immediate discounting of them, they also chide and marginalize those who proclaim their existence. They are, of course, members of “organized” religion.
In recent days, we hear word from Rome that a Vatican medical team has approved the healing of a stillborn baby as unexplainable by science, marking a major step toward the beatification of the beloved American Archbishop, Fulton J. Sheen. In the case of Bonnie and Travis Engstrom, their son, James Fulton, was delivered stillborn on September 16, 2010. According to a March 7, 2014 article in the National Catholic Register, “…for 61 minutes, James Fulton Engstrom had no pulse and was medically dead, as medical professionals did their best but failed to resuscitate him. The only hope they had was to revive the infant long enough for his parents to hold him and say their brief hellos and good-byes. When the doctors finally gave up and started to certify death, his heart shot up to 148 beats per minute — just like any healthy newborn.” Mrs. Engstrom “…remembers sitting there, on her bedroom floor, saying Fulton Sheen’s name over and over again. That was about as close to a prayer I could get.” Only later did she learn that her husband had engaged a worldwide prayer chain for their tiny son and specifically asking for Archbishop Sheen’s intercession.
At the many baptisms I celebrate, I ask parents presenting their children for baptism whether they have ever witnessed a miracle. With the question placed upon their hearts, they quietly gaze at the babies in their arms. And no words are required.
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