As I continually read, watch, and listen to the multitudinous stories of the atrocities committed against Christians around the world these days, I have repeatedly found myself meditating deeply and frequently about Christian identity, Christian unity, persecution, and martyrdom. In the midst of such a reflection, I also find that I am asking God if and what I should do to help those afflicted.
While I certainly can’t recount here the entirety of His mildly astonishing answer to me, I can tell you that I was reminded of what St. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 2:9, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him.” In other words: miracles can and will happen!
Miracles are vital to our understanding of a vibrant faith. They are the bridge that God gives to us in order to see the path between a world dripping with evil and sin, and the world of God in heaven. Miracles happen because God loves us. They come about because God is holy too. They are clear signs that He is interceding for us. God performs miracles not only because He wants to give us every possible chance to escape from our sinful selves and the vicious acts of the devil, but also because He calls each and every one of us to experience a foretaste of eternal unity with the Most Holy Trinity in the heavenly kingdom.
Thus, one of the lessons I learned in my recent meditations was this: instead of always looking at what is wrong in our world, I need to take the time to recount what good that God is working throughout the world too. For example, it is a miracle that the good news of Jesus Christ still exists in places where people are doing their level best to kill Christians. It is a miracle that there are legions of good Catholics and Orthodox who are willing to sacrifice life and limb to bring the message of God into a godless world.
I also re-learned that I need to remind myself of all the miracles that have happened in the past, both as an acknowledgment that God has been working miracles in the world since the beginning of time and as a way of finding a path that is modeled after all those saints who somehow received those miracles. You can do the same.
Start by looking at the Roman (or Byzantine) liturgical calendar every day and learn more about God’s actions in and around the saints. Over the next few days, for example, we will read about the miraculous healing performed by Sts. Cosmas and Damian; the miraculous collation and translation of the Bible by St. Jerome (September 30); the miraculous spiritual legacy of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux (October 1); the miraculous hymnography of St. Romanus the Melodist (October 1); and, of course, the miracle of The Protection of our Most Holy Lady the Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary (October 1).
Personally, I love the Feast of the Protection of Mary. St. Andrew (not the apostle), who was known as a fool in his time, saw the dome of a church open (in modern day Turkey) where Mary entered while surrounded by angels and saints. She knelt at the altar and prayed for the persecuted Christians, asking Jesus to accept the prayers of His people. Afterwards, Mary spread her veil over all the people in the church as a sign of here protection of them.
So, during this Year of Faith, please ask yourself this: do I really know how bad things are for Christians elsewhere? Do I really believe in miracles? When will I recognize the miracles in and around me? When will I truly commit to the miraculous spiritual journey that Christ calls me to?
Let us pray for one another that we may live our lives by the light of this kind of faith.