It’s Christmas time. so Bill Whitaker of CBS’s 60 Minutes on December 18 did a report on miracles. According to the Catholic Church, the records show 70 miracles have been documented associated with St. Bernadette’s healing shrine.
Whitaker interviewed the 70th person officially declared to prove a miracle, Sister Bernadette Muriau. After eight years of grilling research, Muriau’s case was declared unexplained—hence, a miracle. But at least three hundred medical experts had to examine and ratify the phenomenon before the conclusion was made public.
The 83-year-old’s original prognosis was “full, total paralysis,” a disorder of the nerves and lower spine. For half of her life, her left foot was twisted and limp, and she required massive doses of pain-killing drugs to cope with the pain. She couldn’t move about without braces to hold her back and legs together. So, hoping for something new, she decided to go on a pilgrimage to Lourdes. Her expectations were low, she said, but she wanted to pray with others who were suffering.
The result for Sister Bernadette turned out to be a miracle. The pain ceased, her left foot straightened and became perfectly functional, so she could cast off her braces and walk. The painkillers were thrown away. This all happened instantaneously.
Why did it take eight years of inquiry with three hundred scientists to finally admit there was no explanation of the healing? Suppose that comparable amounts of massive questioning occurred in all scientific claims? It would make ordinary science impossible. What was so special about this claim of unexplained instantaneous healing that it took more than 300 scientsts to prove it was real?
It was a blow against materialism. It also seems to support something about religion that also contradicts materialism, suggesting there is more to reality than physicality. It points to powers, agencies, mysteries that challenge basic assumptions of modern science. Miracles challenge us to expand our view of reality, not fly from facts that oppose entrenched beliefs.
And there’s something else. The Lourdes’ miracles are related to a whole chain of worldwide phenomena, visions and apparitions of the Virgin Mary. We’re led to a related mystery: why are figures of the feminine divine appearing all over the world, seen by vast multitudes in Fatima, Portugal, Zeitun, Egypt, and many other places?
Why the predominance of a female figure appearing all over the world? And why among the Abrahamic, male-dominated religions? Why should an icon of the divine female emerge as the leading apparitional star of modern times? Why in short should a feminine image of the divine be so popular and such a powerful force at this point in human history? Why indeed when climate catastrophe and wars everywhere threaten not only human but all forms of life on the planet? Women and girls in many countries are subtly, selectively, constrained, as with their reproductive rights?
May it be that the spirit of mother earth (speaking archetypally)—is trying to tell us something? Are these miracles trying to convey the idea that our male-dominated consciousness needs to be rectified? But how? Perhaps by the repressed creativity of the feminine psyche? Is that the missing component of our consciousness? The power we need to save us from ourselves?
The CBS report of Bill Whitaker was a Christmas gift of a special kind. It gave us scientific evidence, fanatically compelling, that miracles occur—events that emanate from an unknown, extraphysical reality. What this means is a story that remains to be explored and undestood. What may be shocking is the amount of hard evidence for a wide range of phenomena we have called miracles. For an overview of evidence of miracles, see Smile of the Universe: Miracles in an Age of Disbelief, by yours truly. Anomalist Books or Amazon.