Sunday, July 20, 2008

On Eastern Orthodox Miracles

Update 3/15/2010: Click here for a new and improved post on Eastern Orthodox vs. Catholic miracles.

Eastern Orthodox miracles falsify the Catholic Church's claim to be the only One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church founded by Jesus Christ
1. The issue of Eastern Orthodox miracles is an issue that, based upon my extensive research, is rarely mentioned or addressed by us Catholic apologists. That both Catholic and Orthodox persons have worked genuine miracles is not open to question,{1} but the fullness of truth subsists in only one of these churches, viz., the Catholic Church.{2} Members of both churches have to account for reports of miracles, during the earthly life and posthumously, worked by persons who consciously reject certain tenets of the other communion.

2. There are sometimes genuine miracles outside of the visible confines of the Church. The only true miracles of this sort are worked by and through persons of good faith (e.g., St. Sergius of Radonezh){3}--as opposed to loud lifetime formal schismatics and heretics of whom there is no record of their entrance into the Church or desire therefor before their death--and in support of Catholic truth that the separated churches have maintained to varying degrees.{4} There are certain Eastern Orthodox individuals, who in the Church's words, despite being "outside the visible boundaries of the Church," nonetheless retain an "imperfect communion with the Catholic Church" because they value and practice "the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements, all of these coming from Christ and leading back to Him."{5} On 10/1/2009 I discovered that Fr. Martin Jugie reasons in the same basic way when he discusses the manifestation of fruits of holiness in the Eastern Orthodox Church.{6}

3. God never works miracles that justify and sanctify error/heresy and schism.{7} Thus, any Orthodox "miracles" of this breed are not real miracles by God, but the product of (1) demons; (2) imagination; (3) hallucination; (4) exaggeration; (5) legendary accretion; or (6) outright fabrication.{8}

4. There have been many true miracles in support of doctrines that the Orthodox have (but not via an ecumenical council) forsaken: e.g., Eucharistic miracles with unleavened as opposed to leavened bread,{9} God endorsing the theology of St. Thomas Aquinas,{10} and the Θεοτόκος proclaiming her Immaculate Conception to St. Bernadette Soubirous.{11}

Notes & References
{2} Huysman, Will R. "Why God Led Me to Rome Instead of Constantinople." The Banana Republican. 31 July 2009. 21 Sept. 2009 <>.
{3} St. Sergius the Wonderworker of Radonezh (Сергий Радонежский, b. Bartholomew: abbot) [5/3/1314-9/25/1392] is officially a saint of the Catholic Church. St. Sergius of Radonezh is on the Roman Martyrology for 9/25. For documentation of official sanction of other post-1054 Orthodox saints, see my post "Post-1054 Common Saints."
{4} Personal communication with Mr. James Likoudis. Cf. Jugie 448, referenced below in n. 6.
{5} UR (Unitatis redintegratio) 3. Cf. In Dominus Iesus, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI (then Cardinal Ratzinger) says, "For those who are not formally and visibly members of the Church, 'salvation in Christ is accessible by virtue of a grace which, while having a mysterious relationship to the Church, does not make them formally part of the Church, but enlightens them in a way which is accommodated to their spiritual and material situation. This grace comes from Christ; it is the result of His sacrifice and is communicated by the Holy Spirit;'81 it has a relationship with the Church, which 'according to the plan of the Father, has her origin in the mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit.'82

(81) JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter
Redemptoris missio, 10.
Decree Ad gentes, 2. The famous formula extra Ecclesiam nullus omnino salvatur is to be interpreted in this sense (cf. FOURTH LATERAN COUNCIL, Cap. 1. De fide catholica: DS 802). Cf. also the Letter of the Holy Office to the Archbishop of Boston: DS 3866-3872."
{6} See especially p. 448 of Jugie, Martin, A.A. Le Schisme Byzantin: Aperçu historique et doctrinal. Paris: P. Lethielleux, 1941.
{7} Aquinas, St. Thomas (Angelic Doctor). Summa Theologica II-II, q. 178, art. 2, ad 3.
{8} The Catholic Church has the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to rule out cases that belong to one or more of those categories. Historically, the Catholic Church has been much more rigorous than the Orthodox Church in this regard (Jugie 450).
{9} Huysman, Will. "List of Catholic Miracles." The Banana Republican. 30 July 2008. 21 Sept. 2009 <>. On the Eastern Orthodox dogmatic rejection of the use of unleavened bread, see the following: Two Epistles of Patriarch Michael I Cerularios of Constantinople to Patriarch Peter III of Antioch; Encyclical of Metropolitan Mark Eugenikos of Ephesus (1440); Council of Constantinople with Patriarchs Jeremiah II Tranos of Constantinople, Silvester of Alexandria, and Sophronios IV of Jerusalem (1583); Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs Anthimos VI of Constantinople, Hierotheos II of Alexandria, Methodios of Antioch, and Cyril II of Jerusalem to Pope Pius IX of Rome (1848); Encyclical of Patriarch Anthimos VII of Constantinople to Pope Leo XIII of Rome (1895).
{10} Kennedy, Daniel. "St. Thomas Aquinas." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 14. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 21 Sept. 2009 <>.
{11} "Biography of Bernadette Soubirous." Biography Online. 2 Oct. 2009 <>.


AGLOCO said...

you know holy fire in easter at jerusalem every year. this only appears to orthodox clergy. Do you know that holy water in orthodox church don't contain salt and never contaminated like roman catholic church? Do you know the orthodox icon emits light itself??? Do you know cross or icon in orthodox produce water endlessly from itself??? I think those are unique miracles that you cannot see in roman catholic church.

kate said...

You need to check your facts and look a little more into the Orthodox Church. Go to an Orthodox Liturgy and then a Catholic Mass and you will see why the Orthodox church is true. It is so much richer and more holy...the Catholic church can't even compare. Many of our icons emit myrrh. The Theotokos has appeared to even our modern day saints. Our saints come from all walks of life, they have been royal, poor, monks, clergy, mothers, fathers, husbands and wives. Check your facts. Many of your popes have been some of the most evil men to have ever lived, yet you claim they are infalible?! Even the Most Holy Theotokos Queen of Heaven wasn't infallible, although she never sinned! Plus, keep in mind for years the Orthodox stronghold has been in Russia, where they were repressed by the government since the communist revolution, many of our miracle are not well know! furthermore many of our great wonderworkers are so full of humility that few people ever know what great men and women they are! keep in mind that YOU guys split off from US. Four out the five patriarchs went our way! I'm sorry if this offends.

Will R. Huysman said...

I have unresolved doubts about the miraculous nature of the Holy Fire (which, nevertheless, incites wonderful devotion from the faithful). Could you give me some references about the other phenomena you list? Thanks.

God bless you and yours,
Will R. Huysman

Will R. Huysman said...

Dear Kate,
1. Don't worry; I am not offended. I thank you for your charity. Your criteria of the richness of the liturgy is too subjective compared to the Patristic literature, which led me to convert from Protestantism to Catholicism instead of Orthodoxy.

2. I am aware of the many accounts of miracles in the Orthodox Church, including apparitions of the Theotókos; I have a blog where I strive to give a comprehensive catalog of these reports. The Catholic Church, however, has long had a much more reliable method of verifying these accounts of miracles, as I point out in the post.

3. What do you mean by "many" evil popes? It would be helpful if you could give some specific names/examples and reliable sources to document these examples. The Apostolic See has always been distinguished for its orthodoxy vis-à-vis the other four sees, and there is no shortage of support for papal infallibility in the Fathers and Ecumenical Councils. They said (1) heterodoxy will never prevail over the Roman see; (2) the pope of Rome is the supreme pastor of the universal Church; (3) disobedience of Rome is unacceptable; (4) final doctrinal decisions rest with Rome; (5) the pope has the special authority to teach the entire Christian world; (6) St. Peter is the prince of Apostles who rules over them; (7) this authoritative primacy of Rome is permanent and non-transferable; (8) communion with Rome is necessary. So too, with the pre-schism Ecumenical Councils, especially Ephesus, Chalcedon, Constantinople III, and Nicaea II. The same was not said and cannot be said of the other four ancient sees. If the true doctrine was a function of what the majority of the five sees held to, then Monophysitism and Monothelitism would be true.

God bless you and yours,
Will R. Huysman

John Wilcox said...

Explore with an open mind and read history. You will see Orthodoxy has stayed true to the church of Christ. Bless you