(RNS) Miracles Claimed from Late Pope’s Intercession

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Jesse was just 10 days old in November 2009 when he was diagnosed with Herpes simplex, a virus often lethal to a newborn child. Doctors at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. told his parents that he had no better than a 50 percent chance of surviving, and at most a 25 percent chance of living without severe brain damage.

As the Virginia boy waited for a possible liver transplant, his grandfather started praying to the late Pope John Paul II, who died in 2005 and will be beatified by Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday (May 1).

Practically at once, Jesse’s vital signs began to improve. He went off dialysis a few days later, and was released the following month with a clean bill of health, after what the specialist in charge called a recovery ofunprecedented swiftness.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

Posted April 28, 2011 at 8:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Fr. J. wrote:

Blessed John Paul, your work is not done.  Pray for us!

April 28, 9:36 am | [comment link]
2. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

Pull the other one.

April 28, 1:27 pm | [comment link]
3. Catholic Mom wrote:

Hmmm…I wish canonization didn’t depend on medical miracles.  I do believe the saints intercede for us, but why does their intercession, at least in the canonization process, seem to only take the form of sudden miraculous deathbed recoveries? 

It reminds me of a bad joke that circulated when John Paul first became Pope.  “Did you hear about the miracle performed by the first Polish Pope? He made a blind man deaf. ”

April 28, 2:23 pm | [comment link]
4. Londoner wrote:

dead man cannot answer prayers…..being dead hinders ones ability to hear prayers….... that is why the bible never, ever suggests asking any dead person to pray for us…....

April 28, 3:44 pm | [comment link]
5. Teatime2 wrote:

LOL Pageantmaster.
I saw a program once on how saints are made. It followed a group devoted to a particular person they considered saintly and it showed all of the arduous work they put into making him known and promoting his cause, including a hawklike search for potential miracles. Two things became apparent that I had long suspected, even as a Catholic; that it’s a highly political process and it’s largely a cult of personality.

That disturbs me. The emphasis seems so much less on God than it does this personage who captured the hearts and imaginations of his or her devotees. I experienced this firsthand when the founder of a religious order of brothers who taught in our city was being considered for beatification. In a school where there was very little religious artwork, aside from an occasional small icon or crucifix, they had an absolutely huge painting of their founder in the multi-purpose building. I can imagine that folks like Francis of Assisi and Clare would be horrified and perhaps even angry about the politics and the process.

It’s sad how quickly they’ve rushed through JPII when there are likely more humble, holy, and lesser-known worthies who have been waiting in the wings for many decades but don’t have much of a cult following to promote their cause.

April 28, 3:49 pm | [comment link]
6. Catholic Mom wrote:

Well, Francis of Assisi had a huge cult following—probably one of the biggest cult followings of anybody in European history.  Since I happen to be wearing a gold St. Francis medal as I type this, you could argue he still does.  And I wear it in full knowledge that he—who once said that he would rather pick up a poisonous snake than a gold coin found alongside the road—would be horrified that he is honored by the wearing of a piece of gold jewelry.  Still, my sister gave it to me and it has engraved on the back my children’s baptisimal dates, so I treasure it.

Londoner—I agree that dead men who aren’t God can’t answer prayers.  As to whether or not they can hear them, atheists would say they also can’t see, think, feel, or communicate.  Yet I assume that as a Christian who believes in the “Communion of Saints” you have a different opinion.

April 28, 4:08 pm | [comment link]
7. Teatime2 wrote:

So if the character and real life of the saint wouldn’t approve of such practices, then why are they done?

I confess to not being raised with such things even though I was RC. No one in my family followed saints or wore their medals. The good sisters told me I was named for St. Julia, so I asked my mum. She said, “Well, no, that wasn’t our intent. We just liked the name.  I guess you were named for Julie Andrews because we just loved her and her movies at the time.” I think I dodged a bullet. Mum loved Twiggy, too, hahahaha.

April 28, 4:25 pm | [comment link]
8. Paula Loughlin wrote:

I love our Saints.  Blessed John Paul pray for the peace of the Church and of the world.

April 28, 5:38 pm | [comment link]
9. Londoner wrote:

Catholic Mom - I understand your sentiments etc but don’t think ‘saints’ in the bible means people given special status by any church ... the key point is that our Lord taught us to pray, ‘Our Father’..... he gave us direct access to the Father…....why go through any dead person when the bible never tells us to do so and never says they have any ability to hear or help…..  we do not need to bother dead sinners who cannot even hear us .....we have been given the incredible privelege of praying straight to ‘Our Father…’      Does anyone have any verse in the bible which encourages us to pray to anyone other than God?

April 28, 6:44 pm | [comment link]
10. episcoanglican wrote:

Londoner, I think the approach is different than what you are pointing to in your questions and remarks. Paul commonly asked others to pray for him. I know when I really need prayers I ask those that have a heart for prayer. Catholics clearly believe that Christians (hagios - holy ones/saints) who have died can hear prayers and can be asked to pray for them. You seem to think that once a Christian dies that he or she can no longer hear us who are on this side of the living. Where in scripture do you find that? Do you also believe that saints cannot appear to us? Moses and Elijah might have something to say about that. If OT saints can appear to us, then it is only logical that NT saints can, or at least some can. And if they can appear to us then it is only logical that they, or at least some, can also hear us.

The general lessons of the bible and the church are that we pray (ie. talk) to God first. And that we talk to other Christians, asking for their prayers, also. For some this includes special Christians who have died. As someone above remarked it follows from the belief in the communion of saints.

I have a friend who had a profound spiritual experience in which he heard Mary audibly call his name. If by the Spirit of God she can do that, she can certainly hear and pray for him as well. The rosary is asking Mary to pray while one meditates on Christ and his mysteries (nativity, transfiguration, crucifixion, etc.). If I could get my friends to agree to always pray for me when I meditate on Christ that would be great. But Mary has promised to always be available if we ask her to pray. This relationship within the Communion of Saints really is a richer and more wonderful thing than not praying to the Father or Jesus directly and in humility should not be so quickly dismissed.

Granted, clear unequivocal biblical warrant is always solid and safe spiritual ground.

April 28, 8:08 pm | [comment link]
11. Paula Loughlin wrote:

“we do not need to bother dead sinners who cannot even hear us .”

Not to put too fine a point on it but dead sinners would be in hell.  So praying to them would be blasphemous and useless.

April 28, 8:24 pm | [comment link]
12. Lutheran-MS wrote:

I guess that praying to Christ will not do it, but praying to a dead Pope has more clout with God than Christ., give me a break.

April 28, 11:32 pm | [comment link]
13. Drew Na wrote:

You’ve never asked someone to pray for you?!?

April 28, 11:57 pm | [comment link]
14. Paula Loughlin wrote:

Lutheran MS, that may be your opinion of praying to Saints but it is not Catholic teaching.

April 29, 12:11 am | [comment link]
15. Londoner wrote:

Paula - all are sinners (romans 3:23).... only one man was ever sinless….. even st Paul and st Peter were sinners…..saved by grace alone (as they taught and we read in the scriptures)

episcoanglican - Luke 16:26 says that no dead person can cross over to the living to give us messages:  ‘19 “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. [6] The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers [7]—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”

Nowehere in the bible does the Lord and his apostles ever teach us to pray to or through any dead person…. the Lord taught us to pray to ‘Our Father in heaven….’    I will follow his teaching on prayer.

April 29, 8:27 am | [comment link]
16. Londoner wrote:

Paula and others -  I know the RC church teaches what it teaches but the question I am asking you is about what Christ and his apostles taught us.  I am not trying to insult RC tradition but to ask the question, ’ How did the Lord Jesus teach us to pray?’  Tradition may differ but where it differs to what Christ taught, should we not stick to what Christ taught?

April 29, 8:37 am | [comment link]
17. Matthew in Summerville wrote:

#16 Londoner - forgive my presumption, but I think you may be confusing prayer with worship.  Prayer takes many different forms, and how we address the object of our prayer indicates our attitude toward the object.  Prayers to the saints should and do take the form of requesting intercession, such as “Saint Paul, pray for me that I may see JimBob as my brother in Christ”.  Prayers to the saints do NOT take the form of “Saint Paul in heaven, hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come, thy will be done…”  The former addresses the saints as brothers and sisters in Christ, while the latter addresses the saints as worthy of worship.

Now as to whether one should request intercession from those who are no longer with us in the flesh, I would argue that the saints are more alive than we are.  After all, we do believe that Christ died to open up the way to eternal life, right?

Londoner, please pray for me that I may always maintain a spirit of charity in my blog comments.


April 29, 10:03 am | [comment link]
18. Paula Loughlin wrote:

Londoner,  Catholic and (I hope to be corrected if wrong here) Orthodox believe that nothing unclean may enter heaven.  So if we die in a state of grace we truly are sinless.  The Catholic doctrine of Purgatory is that we need to be purified to reach the state of holiness needed to enter heaven. 

So when I ask a Saint to pray with me or for me I am asking someone who is now enjoying the beatific vision in glory with our Savior, His holy mother and all the other saints and angels. 

I believe these Saints and saints are constantly interceding for us.  Uniting us with the Church in heaven.  Just as here our prayers for one another build up the Body of Christ. 

Christ did not tell us we could only pray the “Our Father” , it does contain all the elements of a perfect prayer and I recite it daily.  That does not preclude saying other prayers or asking for others to pray for me.

April 29, 11:04 am | [comment link]
19. Londoner wrote:

Matthew, Paula and CatholicMom -  pls show me anywhere where the Lord told us to pray through anyone (alive or dead!). .... he did tell us to pray ‘Our Father’

Paula - do you really want to go by the argument that Christ did not tell us not to pray to saints….and that makes it ok?  He also did not teach us to pray to the moon and stars….so that makes it ok by your argument?  No, whatever human traditions without scriptural basis may have grown up, when the OT and the NT only teach us to pray to God and the Lord himself gives us the privelege of praying ‘Our Father’, we should listen to the teaching of the Lord re how to pray.

April 29, 11:31 am | [comment link]
20. Paula Loughlin wrote:

Londoner,  Please do not insult my intelligence.  You apparantly believe there is a single usage allowed for the word prayer.  There is not.  Prayer does not have to mean adoration or what you would term worship. 

At one time it was rather common usage for prayer to simply mean to petition or request as in “We pray your worship will consider the case brought before you in this court.”  I assure you no one was mistaking a judge for the Diety. 

I ask the Saints to pray for me and with me to Christ.  As have Christians since the beginning of the Church.  You may choose to believe dead means body and soul they lie a mouldering in the grave.  I believe and Scripture supports that our departed brothers and sisters in Christ are with Him in heaven very much alive (though without a body) and part of the Body of Christ.

April 29, 12:19 pm | [comment link]
21. Catholic Mom wrote:

Since Jesus gave us the example of the “Our Father” as the perfect prayer, does that mean that we should not pray to Jesus himself?  Or to the Holy Spirit?  All our prayers should begin “Our Father” ??

The word “pray”  is derived from the Latin and means “to ask for” or “to request.”  As Paula pointed out, it used to be used in common language (and still is in legal terminology) when asking a request of anyone.  (“I pray you, do such and such.”)  To “pray” to the saints is simply a request that they themselves “pray” to God on your behalf.  Of course that doesn’t preclude you praying directly to God and I can’t imagine anyone who would pray exclusively or even primarily to the saints.  But, as Paula said, Christians believe in the “great cloud of witnesses” that stand at the holy throne.  In very solemn moments (such as at a baptism or a funeral) the Church invokes those known by name, in the liturgy of the saints, to pray for us.  If this is not what is meant by “the Communion of Saints” would possibly would be??

April 29, 3:01 pm | [comment link]
22. episcoanglican wrote:

Londoner, the parable actually refers to a fixed barrier between those in heaven and those in hell. It simply says Lazarus’ brothers already reject Moses so there is no need to send anyone. You might want to read that more carefully. There is also the event of Moses and Elijah appearing to Jesus. This was an eye witnessed event recording in scripture. You are mis-quoting a parable. It really isn’t as closed and neat as you make it out. But by all means exclusively pray to Jesus and you won’t have any problems. For my part, I will also continue to enjoy the blessings of the rosary and the holy mother’s intercessions on my behalf. Peace.

April 29, 5:10 pm | [comment link]
23. Clueless wrote:

The question really is, does God ONLY act through personal prayer?  Or does He act through the Christian community?  And if through the Christian community would that be those who are alive physically? Or those who are alive in Christ after they leave this world?

In point of fact the Bible teaches that God seems to act through both individual prayer as well as communal prayer.  Moses prayed while ?Joshua battled folks in the desert, and Moses did good as long as he had his hands raised.  However being human his hands faltered, and as it did, the battle went against the Children of Israel.  So Aaron and Hur stood, one on each side raising Moses’ hands and so the Children of Israel won the battle.

Did God not hear Moses?  Was Moses praying to Hur and Aaron?  No. Moses was praying WITH Hur and Aaron.

Similarly in the Garden of Gethsemine, Jesus clearly wanted SOMEBODY to stay awake and pray with Him.  Why?  Because God doesn’t listen to Jesus?  No. Because Jesus was Man as well as God and He was terrified and exhausted and knew all too well that it hadn’t even begun.  Eventually angels came and “strengthened him” .

Why do we bother to go to church when we could all stay at home and enjoy our direct pipeline to Jesus?  We go to church because the Christian community strengthens us and we strengthen them.  And anyway our Lord told us that when were were together in community He would be there.

So are the saints excluded from our community?  They are more alive than we are.  If praying with my friend at church strengthens me, how much more might praying with the saints strengthen us.

We are the body of Christ.  Like the dream of the statue with the head of gold (Jesus) torso of silver (the angels) loins of iron (Holy men an women on earth) and feet of clay (the rest of us).  Should not the arm reach down and bind up the wounds of the foot?  If we are indeed all one body we would expect that that would happen, and that Jesus would prefer that we work together (dead and living - never mind which is which) to act as one Body.

April 30, 1:36 am | [comment link]
24. Londoner wrote:

Catholic Mom -  we believe in one God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Praying to anybody else but the one true God (Father, Son or Holy Spirit) is against everything in the OT and the NT.  Asking any dead person to pray with or for us has zero support in the OT or the NT.  I will follow the teaching and example of the Lord Jesus, his apostles and the OT prophets in praying only to God - with the privelege given by Christ of calling him ‘Father’.  When I look at the prayers of Christ or Paul or those in the OT, there are no prayers except to God direct…. no teaching that the dead, however pious they may or may not have been, can pray with or for us….no teaching like that from the Lord or his apostles.

Paula -  where in the bible do you get anything to support asking any dead person to pray for or with you?  It seems to me that you have not answered that question.

April 30, 6:31 am | [comment link]
25. Clueless wrote:

#24 “Praying to anybody else but the one true God (Father, Son or Holy Spirit) is against everything in the OT and the NT.  Asking any dead person to pray with or for us has zero support in the OT or the NT.  “

God is a Communion (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).  We are the Body of Christ, in communion with Christ as surely as He is with God (just the clay feet part!)  Christ, in communion with His Father did not hesitate to pray to Him.  We, in communion with Christ, do not hesitate to pray to Christ.  The Saints, our older brothers, are also in Communion with Christ, and are so, more nearly that we are.  Why should we not ask our brothers and sisters to pray for us?

April 30, 12:41 pm | [comment link]
26. Clueless wrote:

Lord or his apostles.

“Paula -  where in the bible do you get anything to support asking any dead person to pray for or with you?  It seems to me that you have not answered that question. “

Jesus reported in his parable that the rich man asked Abraham to pray for him.  Was not Abraham a saint?

April 30, 12:44 pm | [comment link]
27. Paula Loughlin wrote:

Londoner,  I did answer you.  You chose not to understand.

April 30, 6:34 pm | [comment link]
28. Londoner wrote:

Clueless -  have you read Luke 16?  The man asking Abraham a question was DEAD….. there is no precedent for the living to ask the dead to pray for them in the bible….that is why Luke 16:26 says what it says…the dead cannot communicate with us.

Paula - I think you are avoiding the fact that you want to pray to / with saints but there is zero support for doing that in the OT and the NT.  Sure, it is RC tradition ..... but is not the way we are taught to pray in the OT or the NT.  I would urge you to read everything the bible has to say about prayer and how to pray…..sometimes church traditions are very far from scripture and when that is the case, we are safest to stick with what the Lord, his apostles and the prophets of God taught…..which is consistently that we should pray only to God, our Father in heaven.  Nowhere are we told to ask for people who have died to pray with or for us.  They cannot communicate with us (Luke 16).  But we can pray, ‘Our Father….’  - praise God.

May 1, 8:33 am | [comment link]
29. Paula Loughlin wrote:

Londoner, Others have pointed out just the support you claim is lacking.

May 1, 2:13 pm | [comment link]
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