Today, October 13, 2017 is the one hundredth anniversary of the “miracle of the sun,” the culminating event of the apparitions at Fatima. The phenomenon was witnessed by thousands of people, many of whom lived till recent years and whose testimony never changed and always agreed.
It’s not required of even the most faithful Catholic to believe in this event. However, many did, and still do, and many people have converted as a result of it.
If it was a rare atmospheric phenomenon, no one has a theory as to what exactly caused it.
Fascinating, to say the least.
Faith is not about proof, but proof is usually involved somehow–just not necessarily scientific proof. Case in point:
Yesterday, I spent an unexpectedly long time in the company of two stellar Manhattan dentists (and with my mouth propped open under the hands of one of them!). A quick visit stretched into a five-hour-long, expensive project.
I cannot verify every single thing they said without dropping my life and earning a DDS degree. Yet from the proofs of their expertise, their demeanor, the other patients waiting for their turn, the diplomas, the real estate, the equipment, and above all the magnificent results, I am a believer.
I believe in those two guys, in what they told me, in what they did for me, and in their practice of empirical, Western, allopathic medicine. (They were outstandingly courteous, too.) God bless them and all their colleagues.
So faith is never an arbitrary exercise in “checking your brains at the door.” It’s a way of weighing evidence and testimony to come to believe in something on trust. “I once was lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see.” Proof positive if you can see it.
As C. S. Lewis said, it’s not wishful thinking, but thinkful wishing.
It has also been defined as a gift. Perhaps so.
The Hebrew word for “miracle” is “nes,” which literally means “sign.” Likewise, the Greek of the New Testament (as well as the Septuagint) uses “semeion,” which also means “sign.” (The word is the root of “semaphore” and “semiotic,” among others.) A miracle is never a trick or a crowd-pleaser, but always comes with a message. It’s a sign of something else.
Look up the Fatima miracle of the sun if you’re so inclined. Information abounds online, and much of it is high quality. But do try to understand that the miraculous is never merely spectacular. The point of dazzling dental technology is simply to let you enjoy eating and smiling. The point of the sun dancing in the sky is simply–well, you decide.
(Note: in both dentistry and religion, some pain may be involved, as well as financial cost. In both situations, I think it’s worth it.)