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MIRACLE


338


MIRACLE


JoKDAN (11,33.357) rallsntlinlic.n (c. tlio Snnf Isi.lnro mnnu- Boript. in 111.- culleiliim .if (Mnlin:!! Nii-hohis i.f Aragon (1356-- 6-2). ..II nhi.h :iri- l.:is.-.l t lii- (/ru/./iia .lurra' urfcis Komffi edited by (>7. iN.wi, ;m.l 111.' Chnitnrl, .if Mahtinus Polonus. Notwith- stiui.liiiKth.' Ii:inii-ii iiMti's.if HiciiF.SNKanii the comprehensive comiiieiit;iry .if J.miiAN. already rcf.Tr.'il t.i (in which must be include.1 secliuii .i. Mil. 1, pt. I, ;{7 71. on l.ipographical re- search since the tifleciitli cciiliir\'l. inatu- inicsli.ins conceminK the text of the ;Wir<i/.i/m still remain tii lie cleared iin or are still in dispute. The authorship of the Miralntia, which had never been discussed by any recognized authority, is treated in a most satisfactory manner by IJuchesne in the sixth fascicule of the LibtT Ccnsuum (97-104), which has just appeared. He ad- duces numerous arguincnls lo jiro\e that the above-mentioned Benedict (Canonicus Saii.li I'etri ilc I'rbe, cantor Romana; Ecclesiie, the compiler of Ihc Ori/.i liorirsnus) was also the author of the A/iVa6i7!«, ••Who, if not the iii.lulgent author, would have wished to create u future for it by incorporating it with the Lihcr 1'rnsnuiny '. Duchesne's theory also explains the curious fact that the Mirahilia should be found in the Liber Ccnsuum, with which it is in no way connected.

Paul Makia Baumgarten.

Miracle (Lat. ntiraculum, from mirari, "to won- der"). — In general, a wonderful tiling, the word being so used in classical Lat in ; in a specific sense, the Latin Vulgate designates by miracuta wonders of a peculiar kind, expresseil more clearly in the Greek text by the terms ripara, Swd/ieis, criiuTa, i. e., wonders performed by supernatural power as signs of some special mission or gift and explicitly ascribed to God. These terms are used habitually in the New Testament and express the meaning of miraculum of the Vulgate. Thus St. Peter in his first sermon speaks of Christ as approved of God, Smd^einv, Kal TipoLdiv Kal (rriiielois (Acts, ii, 2'2) and St. Paul says that the signs of his Apostle.ship were wrought, (Ti);ieIois 7-£ Kal Tipaaiv Kal Swafuciv (II Cor., xii, 12). Their united meaning is found in the term tpya i. e., works, the word constantly employed in the tiospels to designate the miracles of Christ. The analysis of these terms therefore gives the nature and scope of the miracle.

I. Nature. .\. The word ripara literally means "wonders", in reference to feelings of amazement ex- cited by their occurrence; hence effects produced in the material creation appealing to, and gras])ed liy, the senses, usually by the sense of sight, at times by hearing, e. g., the baptism of Jesus, the conversion of St. Paul. Thus, though the works of Divine grace, such as the Sacramental Presence, are above the power of nature, an<:l due to God alone, they may be called miraculous only in the wide meaning of the term, i. e., as supernatural effects, but they are not miracles in the sense here imderstood, for miracles in the strict sense are apparent. The miracle falls under the grasp of the senses, either in the work it.self (e. g., raising the dead to life) or in its effects (e. g., the gifts of infused knowledge with the Apostles). In like manner the justification of a soul in itself is miracu- lous, but is not a miracle properly so called, unless it takes place in a sensible manner, as, e. g., in the case of St. Paul. The wonder of the miracle is due to the fact that its cause is hidden, and an effect is expected other than what actually takes place. Hence, by compari-son with the ordinary course of things, the miracle is called extraordinary. In analyzing the difference between the extraordinary character of the miracle and the ordinary course of nature, the Fathers of the Church and theologians employ the terms nhore, ciinlrari/ to. and nnixiilr nature. The.se terms express the manner in which the miracle is extraordinary.

\ miracle is sai.l to lie 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 flead man to life, e. g., Lazarus (John, xi). the widow's son (III Kings, xvii). A mir- acle is said to be outside, or beside, nature when natural forces may have the power to produce the effect, at least in part, tjut could not of themselves alone have produced it in the way it w.as actually brought about. Thus the effect in abimdance far


exceeds the power of natural forces, or it. takes place insl.'uilaiiioiisly without the means or processes which natuie employs. In illustration we have the multi|ilication of loaves by Jesus (John, vi), the changing of water into wine at Cana (John, ii) — for the moisture of the air by natural and artificial pro- cesses is changed into wine — or the sudden healing of a large extent of diseased tissue by a draught of water. A miracle is .said to be contrary to nature, when the effect produced is contrary to the natural course of things.

The term miracle here implies the direct opposition of the effect actually produced to the natural causes at work, and its imperfect understamling has given rise to much confusion in modem thought. Thus Spinoza calls a miracle a violation of the order of nature (prcrvcrti, "Tract. Theol. Polit.", vi). Hume says it is a " violation " or an " infraction " ; and many writers — e. g., Martensen, Hodge, Baden-Powell, Theodore Parker — use the term for miracles as a whole. But every miracle is not of necessity con- trary to nature ; for there are miracles alcove or outside nature. Again, the term contrary to nature .hies not mean "unnatural" in the scn.se of [iniibuing di.scord and confusion. The forces of nature ililTer in )iower and are in constant interaction. This produces inter- ferences and counteractions of forces. This is true of mechanical, chemical, and biological forces. So, also, at every moment of the day I interfere with and counteract natural forces about me. I study the properties of natural forces with a view to obtain conscious control by intelligent counteractions of one force against another. Intelligent counteraction marks progress in chemi-stry, in physics — e. g., steam locomotion, aviation — antl in the prescriptions of the physician. Man controls nature, nay, can live only by the counteraction of natural forces. Though all this goes on around us, we never speak of natural forces violated. These forces are still working after their kind, and no force is destroyed, nor is any law broken, nor does confusion result. The introduction of human will may bring about a displacement of the physical forces, but no infraction of physical pro- cesses. Now in a miracle God's action relative to its bearing on natural forces is analogous to the action of human personality. Thus, e. g., it is against the nature of iron to float, but the action of Eliseus in raising the axe-head to the surface of the water (IV Kings, vi) is no more a violation, or a transgression, or an infraction, of natural laws than if he rai.sed it with his hand. Again, it is of the nature of fire to bum, but when, e. g., the Three Children were pre- served imtouched in the fiery furnace (Dan., iii) there was nothing unnatural in the act, as these writers use the word, any more than there would be in erecting a dwelling absolutely fire-proof. In the one case, as in the other, there was no paralysis of natural forces and no consequent disorder.

The extraordinary element in the miracle — i. e., an event apart from the ordinary course of things — enables us to imderstand the teaching of theologians that events which ordinarily take place in the natural or supernatural course of Divine Providence are not miracles, although they are lieyond the efficiency of natural forces. Thus, e. g., the creation of the soul is not a miracle, for it takes place in the ordinary course of nature. Again, the justification of the sin- ner, the Eucharistic Presence, the sacramental effects, are not miracles for two reasons : they are beyond the grasp of the senses antl they have place in the ordinary course of God's supernatural Providence.

B. The word Sivanis, "power" is used in the New Testament to signify: (a) the power of working mir- acles, {if dvvdiJKi (T-qiiduv — Rom., xv, 19); (b) mighty works as the effects of this power, i. e., miracles themselves (ol TrXeicrToi Sura/xtis airov — Matt., xi, 20) and expresses the efficient cause of the miracle, i. e.,