Many of us probably don’t think twice when we use the term “miracle” in everyday life. We call the 1980 U.S. men’s hockey team’s gold medal a miracle. Buddy the elf tells Jovie she looks “miraculous” when they go on their first date. We look at our to-do lists and think it’s going to take a miracle to pull this off.
The lightness with which we use this term can allow us to forget that real miracles—that which the Catechism defines as “a sign or wonder, such as a healing or the control of nature, which can only be attributed to divine power”—still happen today. God is as living, active, and interested in our lives in the twenty-first century as He ever was in Scripture. Whether we recognize it or not, He is still making impossible things happen.
A Modern-Day Miracle
A powerful example is that of James Fulton Engstrom, who was born still and remained dead for 61 minutes before his heart spontaneously began beating. (Did you get goosebumps reading that? I got goosebumps typing it.)
James’ mother, Bonnie, whose name you likely recognize from daily devotions here at Blessed is She, shared his story this fall in a moving and important book, 61 Minutes to a Miracle: Fulton Sheen and a True Story of the Impossible.
61 Minutes to a Miracle
Bonnie sets up the story with care, both aware of how impossible the situation was and transparent about what she initially experienced when she was in shock versus what she learned later. I felt the movements of the story with her as I read, especially with the knowledge that my oldest son is only days younger than her James. When I was basking in the joy of my healthy baby boy nine years ago, Bonnie was struggling with what would happen to her son.
Yes, he came back to life. But there was a period of time where doctors didn’t know what he would be capable of. I don’t want to spoil it for you, so I’ll leave that part of the story for you to discover on your own. Suffice it to say that though I knew the basics from Bonnie’s blog before reading the book, I still couldn’t put it down.
I read it in a single night and then started recommending it to everyone I knew.When I was basking in the joy of my healthy baby boy nine years ago, Bonnie was struggling with what would happen to her son. #BISblog // Click To Tweet
Believing in Miracles
Which brings me to why I call this book important. It’s important that we are aware of and open to miracles happening. I’d go so far as to say it’s important that we expect miracles. God wants to do beautiful things for us and through us. And He’s probably doing more than you or I have eyes to see.
We need to cultivate a joyful anticipation of what God wills to provide for us as well as honest relationships with the Saints, whom we can call on for their intercession.
James’ miracle has been approved by the Vatican, and is part of Venerable Fulton Sheen’s cause for sainthood. Thank God for Sheen’s intercession, and thank God, too, for the faith of the Engstroms, who confidently cried out for help when they were in need. (Did you just get goosebumps again?)
Reliance on God
Our culture encourages us to do for ourselves and take care of number one. God asks the opposite. And we can do as He asks because we can trust Him. If we needed proof, miracles are just that.
God’s plan isn’t always going to be what we want, of course. The dead are not always going to physically come back to life. But we need to live with hope. Our Christian communities need us to live with hope. Our brothers and sisters who don’t recognize Christ or acknowledge God need us to live with hope. The world needs our hope, and Bonnie’s book has helped me to remain in that hope and to share it.
As we gear up for Christmas, we reflect on the Incarnation, the Word made flesh, God come to dwell among us. It seemed impossible, and yet we know that it was. God is still doing amazing things in the world He created and loves. May we keep our eyes open to see His miracles and our hands and hearts open to share them.61 Minutes to a Miracle Book Review #BISblog Click To Tweet
Lindsay Schlegel is a daughter of God who seeks to encourage, inspire, and lift up the contemporary woman to be all she was created to be. She’s the author of Don’t Forget to Say Thank You: And Other Parenting Lessons That Brought Me Closer to God, as well as shorter nonfiction and fiction pieces, both online and in print. With joy, she speaks about recognizing God’s voice and living the truth therein. Lindsay lives in New Jersey with her high-school-sweetheart-turned-