Friday, August 24, 2012

“Doubt it NOT!”

As always, there are skeptics that disbelieve articles such as this article you are about to read. We hear from these Doubting Thomas’ quite often. Mostly the nay-saying comes from certain Protestant televangelists. We hear them say: “The Roman Catholic Church is a cult”; “It’s possessed by the devil”; “Catholics pray to bread” (reference to the Holy Eucharist). And on and on with their hatefulness, especially with regard to the Saints whom some think we pray to instead of God. If these doubters would click on: TheAmazing True Story of St. Paschal of Bayon” their minds might be changed. And after they read this following article about the life of  St. Vincent Ferrer they just might become believers in the miracles provided by God through his saints,  as many others have.

Now, if these doubters would believe in Holy Scripture, then perhaps they’ll believe the instructions Jesus gave his Apostles:

Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils: freely you have received, freely give.” (Matt. 10: 8). And this is exactly what St. Vincent Ferrer did so convincingly.

One of the greatest miracle workers-thaumaturges in the history of the Catholic Church was Dominican priest St. Vincent Ferrer (1350-1419). He moved in the limelight before both ordinary people and the great of the world. He once converted 10,000 Jews at one time by marching right into their synagogue and preaching to them; the Jews turned their synagogue into a Catholic Church.

So great a missionary was St. Vincent Ferrer that he can only be compared to the 12 Apostles. His accomplishments were incredible and rare in the whole history of the Church; his life story contains one amazing story after another, many of these are documented in the book “St. Vincent Ferrer—“The Angel of the Judgment” by Father Andrew Pradel, O.P.

Some would consider it a conservative estimate that St. Vincent Ferrer converted 25,000 Jews and 8,000 Moors; his total number of conversions was around 200,000 souls-among them Moors, Jews, heretics, and apostate Catholics. At Toulouse he spoke on the Passion for six hours without a break before a crowd of 30,000 at the Place St. Etienne. When he cried out, “Arise you dead, and come to Judgment!” the whole crowd fell on their faces begging for mercy.

Learning about the many other wonders of St. Vincent makes it easier to accept the accounts of his death-to-life miracles. The Acta Sanctorum records 873 miracles performed by the saint, but there were actually many more. In 1412 Vincent himself told a crowd, “God has wrought in His mercy, through me a miserable sinner, three thousand miracles.” After that Vincent lived seven more years, which was a period of even greater miracles.

The Bollandist hagiographers tell of 70 persons who were delivered from diabolical possession by St. Vincent Ferrer. He had such power over devils that it was often enough for him to touch a possessed person for him to be freed; at other times, a possessed person would be freed from the devil merely upon going to the same place as where Vincent was or even simply when Vincent’s name was pronounced.

St. Antonius (Antoninus), Archbishop of Florence, another learned Dominican about 30 years old when Vincent died, stated that St. Vincent had raised 28 persons from the dead. But others claimed that St. Antonius’ estimate fell short of the actual number raised. Perhaps there is some confusion in distinguishing those Vincent personally raised during his life and those raised through his intercession after his death. The author Fr. Pradel states that St. Vincent Ferrer “resuscitated more than 30 persons during his lifetime.”

Near Palma of Majorca St. Vincent Ferrer stilled a storm in order to preach from a wharf. At Beziers he stopped a flood. At the gates of Vannes he cured a great number of the sick. At Guerande he delivered a man possessed by the devil and more dead than alive. In France he had the British victors at Caen praying together with the defeated French for a sick man, who was cured—and all of them, enemies or not, shouted for joy. At Leride he cured a cripple in the presence of the king.

Vincent once said to a novice, Alphonso Borriga, “You will become pope and will canonize me.” And years later that novice, then became Pope Callixtus lll, did exactly that. Vincent told St. Bernardine of Sienna that he (Bernardine) would be canonized before himself—and so it happened. Once a mute woman signed to him, and then she spoke, asking for speech and bread. He promised her bread, but took back her speech, saying that she would make ill use of it. He made beautiful an ugly woman who had been beaten by her husband for her looks.

At Pampeluna an innocent man had just been condemned to death. St. Vincent knew of his innocence and pleaded for him, but in vain. As the grim procession led the poor man to the scaffold, they met another procession, that of a man already dead. The corpse was being borne on a stretcher to the burial place. Vincent seemed to have a sudden inspiration. He stopped suddenly and addressed the corpse: “You no longer have anything to gain by lying. Is this man guilty? Answer me!”

The dead man sat up, then spoke the words: “He is not!” As the man began to settle down again on his stretcher, Vincent offered to reward him for his service. He gave him the opportunity of remaining alive on earth. But the man responded, “No, Father, for I am assured salvation.” With that he died again as if going to sleep, and they carried his body off to the cemetery.

On one occasion when St. Vincent was preaching to thousands at Salamanca, he suddenly stopped and said: I am the angel of the Apocalypse and am preaching judgment!” Then he directed: “Some of you go near St. Paul’s Gate, and you will find a dead person borne on men’s shoulders on the way to the grave. Bring the corpse hither, and you shall hear proof of what I tell you.”

The men went on their errand, the multitude waited, and soon the bier was brought with the dead woman upon it. They raised the litter and set it up so all could see. St. Vincent bade her to return to life and the dead woman sat up.

“Who Am I?” Vincent asked her. She answered: “You, Father Vincent, are the angel of the Apocalypse, as you have already told this vast assembly.” In the case of the woman, after her testimony she died again. In another almost identical account, this time it was a man, Vincent asked him what was his preference, live or die again. The man asked to live, and St. Vincent responded, “Then be it so!” The man is reported as having lived many more years.

There was a rich Jew of Andalusia, named Abraham, who began to leave the church in anger while Vincent was preaching. The Jew did not like what he was hearing. As some people at the door opposed his passing through, St Vincent cried out: “Let him go! Come away all of you at once, and leave the passage free!” The people did as he ordered, and at the instant the Jew left, part of the porch structure fell on him and crushed him to death. Then the saint rose from his chair and went to the body. He knelt there in prayer. “Abraham came to life.” And his first words were: “The religion of the Jews is not the true faith. The true Faith is that of the Christians.”

In memory of this event the Jew was baptized Elias (in honor of the prophet who had raised the boy from the dead). The new convert established a pious foundation in the church of the “accident” and the miracle. Bishop Peter Ranzano accounted for this miracle.

The father of a certain child had given Vincent lodging while he was on a missionary journey. His wife, a virtuous woman, suffered from a bad attack of nerves, and at times was close to madness. Upon his return from hearing one of Vincent’s sermons, the father came upon a terrible tragedy. His wife had gone mad, cut their small son’s throat, then chopped up the boy’s body and roasted a portion of it, which she then attempted to serve her husband.

When he realized what had happened, the man fled in horror to St. Vincent. Vincent told him that—as in the case of the crushed Jew—the tragedy would be for the glory of God. St. Vincent went with the father back home and prayed as he gathered the bloody pieces together. He said to the father: “If you have faith, God, who created this little soul from nothing, can bring him back to life.”

Vincent knelt and prayed. He made the sign of the Cross over the reassembled body. The pieces became united together, the body came to life again, and Vincent handed over to the father a living child. This event is depicted in a painting by Francesco del Cossa in the New Picture Gallery in the Vatican. Bishop Ranzano claimed this as one of the miracles submitted in the canonization process for St. Vincent Ferrer.

There are those that scoff at miracles such as this. But, what do they say about the Valley of Bones? “Ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord…behold, I will send SPIRIT into you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to grow over you, and will cover you with skin: and I will give you spirit and you shall live…and the spirit came into them, and they lived…” (Ezekiel 37: 4-10) “With men this is impossible: but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19: 26).  Cannot God delegate this power to His Saints? He has done so all through history.

Some may be surprised to know that the above miracle is not without some real, though lesser, counterparts. St. Francis of Paola restored a lamb from its mere bones and fleece, and in the palace of the King of Naples he revived an already-cooked fish; also, St. Philip Benizi restored a child partially devoured by a wolf. A similar wonder was worked for a young man who was with his parents in a group of pilgrims on their way to the famous shrine of Santiago (St. James) de Compostella in Spain. They stopped at La Calzada, where the young man was falsely accused and hanged. The poor bereaved parents continued their pilgrimage, and on their return journey they were astonished to find their son still alive eight days later.

 But the story goes beyond this wonder. When the lad’s mother rushed to tell the magistrate (he was at diner), the magistrate said, “Woman you must be mad! I would as soon believe these pullets which I am about to eat are alive as that man who has been gibbeted for eight days is not dead.” At his words the pullets on the dish rose up alive. There was a great procession with the live birds to the shrine of St. James at Compostella. The Bollandists relate this miracle, as do many other authors. And there have been other miracles similar to it in the lives of the Saints.

One should note that none of these miracles were performed for mere sensationalism, which the saints despise. They were worked for various good purposes, especially the conversion of sinners and the strengthening of faith. As St. Vincent told the bereaved father, miracles are worked for the glory of God. This was also stated by Christ at the grave of Lazarus, and to his Apostles. The saints’ power of course is limited by God, to whom all power belongs. Otherwise, with unrestricted powers, the saints could be “as gods.”

St. Vincent Ferrer died at Vannes, Brittany, France in 1419, and the canonical process at Vannes brought to light an incredible number of wonders, including a surprising number of resurrections from the dead. In the French work—“Histoire de St. Vincent Ferrier” by Pere Fages, O.P., there are a number of accounts of the dead raised through St. Vincent.

Additionally, St. Antonius, O.P., a contemporary of Vincent, said he raised 28 from the dead, however others claimed this count fell far short of the real number. Irregardless, the fact remains that St. Vincent Ferrer brought back to life at least two dozen people, all for the glory of God and the conversion of sinners.

Pray the Rosary, wear the Brown Scapular, and ask the assistance of St. Vincent Ferrer. He will help you.