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When the great Thomas Aquinas visited the Vatican, it is said that an officer of Pope Innocent the Fourth brought in a bag of money. The Pope reputedly said to Aquinas, "You see, young man, the age of the Church is past, in which he said, 'Silver and gold have I none.' To which Aquinas replied, "True, holy father, but the age is also past, in which he could say to a paralytic, 'Rise up and walk.'"

In other words, worldliness had come to dominate the Church and there are those who fret that the same trend has continued to the exclusion of the miraculous -- which is what most effectively quiets non-believers and secularists (as dominate England). It is thus good if the Vatican focuses the Pope's trip to the UK on miracles associated with the future saint to be beatified this weekend, Cardinal John Henry Newman in Birmingham. There is already one miraculous healing through Cardinal Newman that doctors admit they cannot explain, and now word of a second --  the alleged healing of a baby. After prenatal scans revealed that the unborn child was "severely deformed," the doctors were convinced they could do nothing to help the fetus, but the mother, a devout Catholic, insisted on going through with the pregnancy. "The child was born perfect following the mother praying to Newman, and scientists can't explain it," says Ann Widdecombe -- former British government who is narrating a BBC documentary about it!

This is precisely what the British public needs to see -- not theological dissertations on the future of Europe but the living, active truth of God Who intervenes. The money has been a hindrance. So has the intellectualism. Indeed, a devout, conservative priest we know recently said he was hoping his diocese would have to declare bankruptcy over the abuse scandals, so it could purify itself, including of a bureaucracy that was negating the spiritual.

Too many churches -- particularly in Europe -- have become empty shells. Religion is remembered, through tradition (and of course theology), but not the spiritual gifts. Interesting it was also for us recently to hear another priest who is in charge of a different cause for beatification say that they were going to be careful not to delve into or even mention (at least for now) the mysticism of a mystic they are studying for saintliness! This is in itself truly mystifying.

Let's leave it at this: can you imagine stripping all the mentions of mysticism -- the miracles -- out of accounts about Jesus? The miraculous conception. The healings. The exorcisms. The walking on water. The apparitions of Moses and Elijah. The Voice with the dove. The prophecies. The readings of souls. The encounter with Satan in the desert. The multiplication of loaves.  The catch of fish. The coins from a fish. The raising of Lazarus. The Resurrection.

Truly, dear modern Church, could we have Jesus without that?

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