By presenting evidence, facts behind miracles, author Adam Blai reminds us God "is still there"

by Walker Price

North Texas Catholic

11/8/2021

The cover of The Catholic Guide to Miracles by Adam Blai.The cover of The Catholic Guide to Miracles by Adam Blai.
The cover of The Catholic Guide to Miracles by Adam Blai.

"The Catholic Guide to Miracles" by Adam Blai. Sophia Institute Press (Manchester, New Hampshire, 2021). 176 pp., $18.95.

 

For most of us, miracles are a distant phenomenon. They are mysterious events that only appear in the pages of Scripture, or musty old tomes detailing the lives of saints; exhibits to gaze upon from afar. We may wonder why God seems so sparing in His giving of these glimpses into a higher reality, especially considering the prevailing state of religious belief the world over. As Adam Blai quotes from John 4:48 in The Catholic Guide to Miracles, we truly are a people that will not believe until we have seen “signs and wonders.”

Part of the problem is that we are aware how easily deceived our senses can be, how easily addled our minds are by stress, anxiety, exhaustion, and a host of mental illnesses. Not to mention the uncomfortable reality of the demonic, always poking and prodding our spiritual pressure-points, lying in wait for something to give.

The truth is, however, that miracles can and do happen. Illnesses have suddenly, inexplicably vanished after the sufferer asked for the intercession of a particular saint. Bodies have been genuinely found incorrupt. Human cardiac tissue has been detected within consecrated hosts which appear to bleed. In his book, The Catholic Guide to Miracles, Adam Blai presents the evidence for these and other miracles in an objective manner, speaking with the reserved authority that comes from years of engagement with a subject.

Blai is what is known as a peritus: a layman who has been decreed an expert in a specific field by the Church herself. The field in which Blai’s expertise lies is demonology. Specifically, assisting and training exorcists. As an aside, I once knew a priest who had aided in exorcisms in the past, and I remember him saying how he had witnessed things in that ministry which he would rather not discuss. And who could blame him? I shudder to think what it would be like coming into such close contact with legitimately pure evil and hatred.

The Catholic Guide to Miracles is not a book that focuses heavily on the demonic, however. Although Blai does devote a chapter to elucidating how demons can attempt to conjure false miracles to cause confusion and lead souls away from God, the book focuses mostly on true miracles; those “signs and wonders” that pierce through the curtains of the material world, and remind us that God is still there, holding up the rafters.

Several of the miracles Blai details in his book I had never heard of before, and truly amazed me. Like the story of Saint Mary of Jesus Crucified, who miraculously recovered from having her throat cut by a man in Cairo. Or the story of Saint Charbel Makhlouf’s incorrupt body, which remained incorrupt until his beatification in 1976, at which point it was discovered that nothing but bones were left.

Blai also discusses the subject of stigmata, and those who receive it, known as stigmatics. Before I read this book, I was under the impression that stigmata was a relatively straightforward phenomenon, if any miracle could be considered such; the stigmatic finds the wounds of Christ in his or her hands, experiencing only a sliver of what Jesus underwent during His Passion. Blai upends this one-dimensional view of stigmata with a single, deeply moving account of an individual whose experience he is personally acquainted with.

Many more occurrences such as these are contained within The Catholic Guide to Miracles, as well as warnings against deception, both of human and demonic origin. I have only mentioned those which were most striking to me. If you, like many people in the modern world, feel in need of reassurance of God’s presence, then I wholeheartedly recommend this book to you. After reading it I am sure that, like me, you will gain a renewed sense of awe and wonder at the power and love of God. There is so much more to this existence than what our flawed bodies can perceive. When the time is right, God opens a window and lets in some fresh air.

For most of us, miracles are a distant phenomenon. They are mysterious events that only appear in the pages of Scripture, or musty old tomes detailing the lives of saints; exhibits to gaze upon from afar. 

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