THE GIFT OF MIRACLES:
Experiencing God’s Extraordinary Power in Your Life
By Fr Robert De Grandis SSJ, with Linda Schubert, $28.95
Reviewed by Barbara Flynn
THE preparation of candidates in Catholic parishes for the sacraments of initiation provides opportunities for parish members to consider, as Christian believers, their understanding of the gifts of the Holy Spirit “poured into their lives” at their own baptism and confirmation and in other sacramental encounters.
Fr Robert De Grandis, a well respected author of many books encouraging Catholics to live their faith with vitality and commitment, maintains in The Gift of Miracles that, generally speaking, many Catholics have scant understanding and appreciation of the power they are given at baptism in and through the Holy Spirit.
Fr De Grandis explains and discusses “the gift of miracles as a significant manifestation gift among believers of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit”.
He situates his teaching in biblical texts, the documents of Vatican II, the traditions of the Church and the writings and exhortations of recent popes.
The gift of miracles and of healing among other gifts of the Holy Spirit listed in 1 Corinthians 12, Fr De Grandis points out, is the spiritual heritage of all Christians and as such, needs “to be restored and made active in the life of the Church”.
Additionally, Fr De Grandis emphasises that, through the centuries, witness by Christians to God’s working of miracles in the lives of believers through prayer and sacramental encounters, is a powerful tool for evangelising.
The Catholic Church, Fr De Grandis points out, is initially founded on two great miracles, namely, the Resurrection and the sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
He believes the Church is being weakened by its failure to nurture in its people through explanation and teaching, the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit.
The strong conviction that the gift of miracles has credibility for witnessing to the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers underpins the organisation of Fr De Grandis’s three-part book.
Each part of his book is deliberately developed to respond to requests made by people who are seeking some direction on how they might cooperate with God through the power of the Holy Spirit to manifest the gift of miracles.
Key points at the end of each section, within three parts, form a useful summary to the teaching and discussions on issues of faith given in each section.
The Gift of Miracles, in the author’s words, is an introductory study on “miracles” not a theological textbook.
In Part 1, Fr De Grandis deals with “Miracle Heritage”.
He explores the scriptural origins of miracles and provides definitions of miracles to set a credible context and reference point.
The reader is left in no doubt that miracles manifested through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in the Christian community are a response by God to heartfelt prayer said in faith, trust, expectation, sincerity of purpose and surrender to God.
De Grandis opens Part 2, titled “Entering In”, with the words of the late Pope Paul VI: “The Spirit, who makes us Christians and raises us to supernatural life, is the true and profound principle of our interior life and of our external apostolic activity …”
Using these words as the framework for a catechesis on developing a personal relationship with God in and through Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit, De Grandis leads the reader to come to a realisation that being in a personal relationship requires that a person live a strong commitment to Christian life principles and practices.
In Part 3, titled “To God Be the Glory”, testimonies are provided from people who have experienced miracles.
These testimonies witness to the faith of Catholic people in everyday circumstances and are “deeply moving accounts” of the activity and actions of God’s presence in the world in and through God’s spirit.
An appendix concludes the book. This is an invaluable resource of Scripture references listing in turn the miracles of Jesus and of Peter and of Paul.
The Gift of Miracles offers sound teaching in the climate of present day Church when the baptised are being encouraged to take personal responsibility for developing knowledge and deepening their faith and understanding of the riches of their Catholic faith inheritance.
Fr De Grandis does not provide gimmicks or claim recipes for making miracles happen.
In deep pastoral concern, he sets out “to create in the reader a desire and expectation for miracles to happen through prayer and a life lived in personal relationship with Jesus”.
I recommend The Gift of Miracles as an inspiring and useful book for catechesis.