CENTER, MO. (Catholic Online) – My readers know of my belief that miracles are not only real – but they can occur today, for those who have the eyes of living faith and learn to ask. I recently wrote about the miracles occurring in India. Today, I write of a miracle which occurred closer to home, in Missouri.
I offer below an excerpt from an article concerning this miracle. I stumbled upon in a secular newspaper. It was written by Rajah Maples and is entitled Mysterious priest performs miracle at site of Mercedes crash. You can read the entire article here.
“Emergency crews spent an hour and a half trying to extricate a 19-year-old Quincy woman trapped in her in crushed car on Missouri 19 near Center, Mo. The Missouri Highway Patrol said Aaron Smith, 26, crossed the center line and struck Katie Lentz head-on. Now, friends, family and those who rescued Lentz would love to find and thank a mysterious priest who they say helped make the rescue possible.
New London Fire Chief Raymond Reed said rescue crews spent the first 45 minutes after the accident trying to get Lentz out of a car to no avail Sunday morning shortly after 9 a.m. The metal on an older model Mercedes dulled the department’s equipment. “It was a very well-built car, and when you compact materials like that one, they become even stronger because you’re cutting through multiple things instead of one layer,” Reed said.
Reed says Lentz was pinned in between the steering wheel and the seat. After 45 minutes passed, medical workers told rescue crews that Katie was failing and fast. That’s when Reed decided to move the car, which was standing on its side, back on all four wheels. About an hour into the rescue, Katie asked rescue workers to pray out loud with her.
That’s when a priest appeared out of nowhere.
“He came up and approached the patient, and offered a prayer,” Reed said. “It was a Catholic priest who had anointing oil with him. A sense of calmness came over her, and it did us as well. I can’t be for certain how it was said, but myself and another firefighter, we very plainly heard that we should remain calm, that our tools would now work and that we would get her out of that vehicle.”
The Hannibal Fire Department showed up right after that prayer with fresh equipment and was able to finish the extrication. After getting Katie safely into the Air Evac helicopter, at least a dozen of the rescue workers turned around to thank the priest who was nowhere in sight. The highway had been blocked for a quarter of a mile during the hour and a half rescue, leaving no bystanders and no parked cars nearby. Lentz’ family and friends are amazed by the story.
“Where did this guy come from?” Lentz’s friend Travis Wiseman asked. “We’re looking for the priest and so far, no one has seen him. Whether it was a priest as an angel or an actual angel, he was an angel to all those and to Katie. We would like to find this gentleman and be able to thank him,” Reed said. “As a first responder, you don’t know what you’re going to run into. We have a lot of tools, and we have intensive training. In this particular case, it is my feeling that it was nothing more than sheer faith and nothing short of a miracle.”
Katie has undergone surgeries to repair several broken bones. She is scheduled for more surgeries in the coming weeks, but friends and family say her spirit has not wavered. “Both of her legs are very damaged,” Lentz’s friend Amanda Wiseman said. “Her wrist is broken, several broken ribs, so she’s had a lot of broken bones to deal with.”
According to Katie’s mother, Katie’s condition has been upgraded to serious condition in Blessing Hospital. In addition to several internal injuries, she has undergone orthopedic surgeries and has more to face. “All along the way, her foremost request is for people to pray and to pray out loud,” she said. “We would like nothing more than to carry that message forward for her.”
Miracles are constantly occurring, all around us. The question is, do we see them? Do we have the eyes of living faith which can recognize the hand of the Lord at work in our own lives and the lives of others? Do we ask for them? Do we pray “out loud” as Katie ashed? If we do begin to see them, how are we responding to these great acts of Love? Are we living our life differently as a result? Are we introducing others to the One who is the source of all miracles?
Citing the biblical references to the multiple miraculous healings in the earthly ministry of Jesus – as well as the healings which continued through the ministry of the Apostles in the early Church – the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that miracles are a sign of the Kingdom of God:
“Jesus accompanies his words with many “mighty works and wonders and signs”, which manifest that the kingdom is present in him and attest that he was the promised Messiah. The signs worked by Jesus attest that the Father has sent him. They invite belief in him. To those who turn to him in faith, he grants what they ask. So miracles strengthen faith in the One who does his Father’s works; they bear witness that he is the Son of God.”
“But his miracles can also be occasions for “offense”; they are not intended to satisfy people’s curiosity or desire for magic. Despite his evident miracles some people reject Jesus; he is even accused of acting by the power of demons. By freeing some individuals from the earthly evils of hunger, injustice, illness and death, Jesus performed messianic signs. Nevertheless he did not come to abolish all evils here below, but to free men from the gravest slavery, sin, which thwarts them in their vocation as God’s sons and causes all forms of human bondage.”
“The coming of God’s kingdom means the defeat of Satan’s: “If it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” Jesus’ exorcisms free some individuals from the domination of demons. They anticipate Jesus’ great victory over “the ruler of this world”. The kingdom of God will be definitively established through Christ’s cross: “God reigned from the wood.” (CCC # 547-550)
The Catholic Church has always proclaimed her belief in the existence of many different kinds of miracles. Our tradition and history are replete with examples of miracles. All miracles are due to the Risen Lord’s continued ministry of Mercy in our midst. His redemptive work continues through the ministry of the Church which is His Body. All miracles are still signs of the Kingdom of God breaking into our midst.
Do signs of the Kingdom continue to be manifested in our own day? The answer I give is YES! I look at an aging miracle every morning as I shave. I know I would not be who I am today but for many miracles. I might not even be alive. The most important miracle is my own encounter with the Risen Lord – and His continued action in my daily life. I have also witnessed miracles in the lives of the ones whom I love. I have seen prayer answered, over and over again, in ministry.
Sometimes, miracles are accomplished through the intercession of the Saints. They are an integral part of the process which leads to their canonization. The prayer and intercession of Mary, the Mother of the Lord, has brought some of the most extraordinary miracles. My wife and I have raised five children and have six grandchildren. We have seen miracles in the lives of our children and grandchildren through the intercession of the Saints. Even if the recipients have not fully grasped their implications.
Miracles can – and do – accompany the administration of the Sacraments. They continue the ministry of Jesus Christ who still walks in our midst, forgiving, healing and setting free.The history of Eucharistic miracles is particularly profound and inspirational. Great men and women throughout Church history have demonstrated that when the Gospel in its fullness is proclaimed, signs and wonders still accompany the Church’s apostolic and missionary work.
The ministry of the founders of many religious communities was accompanied by miracles. Many who are reading this article can attest to miracles in their own lives – and in the lives of others. Those involved in, or touched by, the ecclesial movements, spreading rapidly in the Church, often give testimony to the reality of miracles.
However, what about the more dramatic miracles? Do they still happen? Can they happen when regular folks in love with the Lord share His Word and believe in His promises? Just ask Katie Lentz, her family and her friends. She is expected to make a full recovery.
Pope Benedict XVI’s Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.