BY EDWARD K. TAYLOR C.M.S.
London: Catholic Truth Society - No. Do 325 (1961)
* * *
IT is the evil genius of heresy to distort the Christian truth by
exaggerating or minimizing one or other of its aspects. The Church in
all ages must counteract this by showing truth in its true proportions
and full beauty. Today much error is being broadcast about so-called
Divine Healing, Faith Healing and Spirit Healing. It is necessary,
therefore, to make known the Church's attitude to suffering and
sickness and the nature of her ministry to the sick, so that the true
picture may by comparison reveal the distortions of the counterfeit.
Christ invites us to suffer
Suffering and disease are the consequences of Original Sin and will be
with us until the final coming of Christ, when wounded Nature will be
healed and the just enter into the glory and painless happiness of
Heaven. The Christian must strive to cure sickness and relieve pain,
but having done so must be reconciled to them and, by accepting them
willingly, turn them to profit. By His Passion and death Christ turned
them to good effect, paid the price of sin and redeemed the human race.
Those who are redeemed are called upon to co-operate in the work of
Redemption by applying to their souls the merits of Christ's Passion.
They do this by reception of the sacraments, prayer and good works, but
also by uniting their sufferings with those of Christ and offering them
with His in reparation for their own sins and the sins of the world.
The whole Church is the Body of Christ and must suffer, for it is not
right that there should be a body at ease beneath a head crowned with
thorns. Our Lord said, "If any man will come after me, let him deny
himself, and take up his cross and follow me" (Matthew 16:24).
Since we are all members of the Body of Christ we benefit all parts of
it by benefiting ourselves. Suffering then is valuable and the sick
exercise a vital apostolate which invigorates the whole Church.
Christian charity demands that all possible should be done to heal them
and relieve their pains, but they are to be encouraged to bear their
sufferings cheerfully for Christ's sake. Indeed, it is more perfect to
embrace suffering than to fly from it.
Christ's Mission is Spiritual. Our Lord is concerned only indirectly
with bodily needs. He died to bring grace to souls, not health to
bodies. The Christian must exercise the corporal works of mercy chiefly
because they are acts of charity and enable those who benefit from them
to serve God better for the salvation of their souls.
Christ did not come to be a miracle-worker. The sacraments and
sacramentals of His Church are not medicine, nor His priests
'medicine-men'. Any healing done in the name of Christ is only
incidental to the work of saving souls.
AND THE APOSTLES HEALED
The miracles of healing by Christ and the Apostles are part of the
fabric of the New Testament. Their chief purpose was to prove Christ's
claims and the authority given by Him to His Apostles and disciples,
and they were not to be part of their normal priestly ministry.
The public mission of Our Blessed Lord is thus summarized in a formula
which we find twice in St Matthew (4:23 and 9:35):
"And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and
preaching the gospel of the Kingdom and healing all manner of sickness
and infirmity among the people".
His miracles were unique, not merely in their effects but hut in the
manner they were achieved and their number. He raised the dead to life
and cured organic diseases. He did this in the sight of multitudes as
well as privately, and with the minimum of effort, usually with a
single command. As for their numbers, we need only quote this
"And when the sun was down, all they that had any sick with divers
diseases brought them to him. But he, laying his hands on every one of
them, healed them" (Luke 4:40).
But He did not work miracles for their own sake. He would have
preferred faith without wonders to arouse it. He said, with
disappointment, "Unless you see signs and wonders, you believe not"
(John 4:45), and, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks a sign"
The Apostles Healed
When Our Lord, before His death and resurrection, sent the Apostles on
a mission, He gave them power over "all manner of infirmities", and
told them to "heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers"
(Matthew 10:1, 8). St Mark tells us that they used oil in their
miraculous healing: "And they cast out many devils, and anointed with
oil many that were sick, and healed them" (Mark 6:13). After His
resurrection He gave them His final commission to go forth as His
Apostles with this promise:
"And these signs shall follow them that believe. In my name they shall
cast out devils, they shall speak with new tongues, they shall take up
serpents, and if they shall drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt
them; they shall lay their hands on the sick and they shall recover"
In fact, we learn from the Acts of the Apostles that they did these
things (2:4, 9:33, 36-40, 16:18, 28:5, 8, etc.). Peter was the first to
work a miracle of healing in the name of Jesus (3:6), and later worked
so many such miracles that the people considered his very shadow
falling on the sick would cure them (Acts 5:15).
Miracles were 'Signs'
No doubt Christ worked many of these cures 'because He had compassion
on the multitude'. But He indicated that He chiefly performed them as
'signs' that He was the Messiah promised of old and ultimately to
elicit faith in His divinity. He pointed in particular to His
resurrection as a sign of His authority (John 2:19-21, Matthew 26:61),
and said to unbelievers, "Though you will not believe me, believe the
works" (John 10:38). When John the Baptist sent his disciples to Him
seeking reassurance that He was the Saviour, He replied:
"Go and relate to John what you have heard and seen. The blind see, the
lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead rise again,
the poor have the gospel preached to them" (Matthew 11:4, 5). He
applies to Himself words used by the prophet Isaiah of the coming
Saviour. (see Isaiah 61:1-2, and Luke 4: 18-21)
For the Apostles, also, healing was the sign that they spoke and acted
with the authority of God and in the name of Jesus Christ. In His final
commission He said, "These signs
shall follow them that believe". (See Mark 16:17)
Healing a Special Gift
Healing was one of the 'charisms', extraordinary gifts given to
individuals for the benefit of the whole Christian community. They were
necessary to encourage the faith of Christians and win converts in the
first years of the Church's life when she was so small and the
opposition of the pagan and Jewish world so fierce.
St Paul insists they are not necessary for every disciple and are
relatively unimportant compared with the all-important virtues,
especially Charity. Not every disciple has a 'charism', he tells the
Corinthians (1 Corinthians 12): nor does anyone have them all. "Are all
of us apostles?" he asks, "all prophets, all teachers? Have all
miraculous powers, or gifts of healing? Can all speak with tongues, can
all interpret?" None of these are necessary. "I will tell you what is",
he says, in effect, and in the famous thirteenth chapter sings the
praises of Charity, the love of God and the neighbour.
Not all exercised the gift of healing, nor did all benefit from it.
Suffering was not wiped out in the Christian community in apostolic
times. The Revelations of St John tell us that Christians suffered
terribly in the first century. There was sickness among the elect.
Epaphroditus, for instance, companion of St Paul in many missions,
suffered serious illness (Philippians 2:26), and St Paul himself all
his life suffered from the weakness which he calls his 'thorn in the
flesh', and bore many other sufferings in which he gloried (2
HEALS THROUGH HIS CHURCH
The arm of Our Blessed Lord is not shortened since He went to Heaven.
He carries on His ministry through His Body, the Church. He stretches
forth His hands particularly through His earthly priest, who, in the
words of St John Chysostom, "lends Christ his tongue and gives Him the
use of his hands". But Christ acts also through all the members of the
Church. As Father Gerard Manley Hopkins says, the Christian
Acts in God's eyes what in God's eyes
he is -
Christ - for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs and lovely in eyes not His. (Sonnet 34)
Christ still heals. Perhaps He works even more miracles today through
His Mystical Body the Church than He worked through His physical body
when on earth. But apart from miracles He is constantly bringing
spiritual and physical refreshment to suffering souls through His
sacraments and sacramentals.
Not every priest can claim the charism of healing, any more than those
of apostolic times could. But the gift is still given. Christ on
isolated and particular occasions still heals miraculously through His
saints. Only a few of the saints of each generation are canonized, only
a selection of their deeds are recorded and only the two major miracles
submitted during their 'cause' of canonization are scrutinized and
accepted officially by the Church. Many more wonders happen than are
chronicled. Miracles, though comparatively rare, are part of the
ordinary life of the Church, and, like the miracles of Christ, are
given as 'signs' of the holiness of a person and the things for which
Miracles are of two kinds, broadly speaking. There are cures of organic
diseases which in their effects and the manner in which they were
achieved are quite outside the known laws of medicine. There are cures,
particularly of functional diseases, which can be brought about by
treatment but which in these particular cases, either because of the
speed or completeness of recovery or the apparent inadequacy of the
methods employed, are seen by the believer to be miraculous.
The cure of John Traynor at Lourdes in 1923 is an example of the
former. As a result of multiple war-wounds, he suffered from epilepsy,
paralysis of the right arm due to severed nerves, atrophy of the
shoulder and pectoral muscles, was without feeling in his legs and
without control of his functions. His skull had been trepanned and the
opening covered with a metal plate. He was restored instantaneously to
perfect health and for twenty years worked as a coal-merchant in
Liverpool, himself lifting sacks of coal even though the nerves of the
axilla which actuate the muscles of the arm remained severed. He died
of a hernia in 1943 (cf. C.T.S. booklet, I Met a Miracle, No. 'B 405'). [you
can read or down-load this booklet from our site at
The Medical Bureau and Medical Commission of Lourdes examine all
alleged cures. They will only consider cases of grave organic lesion.
They look for five characteristics which mark miraculous cures. The
patient had no curative treatment immediately before the cure; it was
instantaneous; there was no period of convalescence; it occurred in an
unusual manner; the functions of the body were restored even when the
organ responsible for them was biologically incapable of performing
them. So rigorously are these tests applied and hearsay rejected that
on an average only one such cure a year is officially attested. All
concerned know that more occur.
Cures of functional diseases and diseases of the mind, not even
considered by the Medical Bureau but accepted as miraculous in the
common opinion of wise men, occur more frequently at Lourdes and other
places of pilgrimage. But the working of miracles is not restricted to
places of pilgrimage. Miracles, although rare, happen in all parts of
the Church, on the testimony of discreet and sensible men, both medical
The Church, however, has a ministry of healing other than the
miraculous, through the administration of the sacrament of Extreme
Unction and her many blessings for the sick.
Extreme Unction (Sacrament of the Sick)
Sacred Scripture thus describes this sacrament:
"Is any man sick among you? Let him
bring in the priests of the church, and let them pray over him,
anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith
shall save the sick man, and the Lord shall raise him up. And if he be
in sins, they shall be forgiven him" (James 5:14, 15).
Here is implied the whole of the Church's teaching on this sacrament -
that it is instituted by Jesus Christ, for the benefit of the seriously
sick, administered by the priest, who prays in the name of the Church
and anoints with sacred oil, with the threefold effect of remitting
sins, cheering and strengthening the soul and restoring the sick man to
bodily health, if God sees this to be for his spiritual benefit.
Sacrament of the Sick - Christ heals
through His Church
The first end of this sacrament is to forgive sins and restore
supernatural strength to the soul to help it to bear its suffering
cheerfully and face death with equanimity. The recovering of bodily
health is secondary and conditional, sometimes accompanying the primary
effect. With sins are removed such consequences of sin as spiritual
debility, indifference, depression and worry, and the strengthening
grace of the sacrament brings hope and confidence in the goodness of
God, so that the soul is calmed and the body in consequence becomes
relaxed and better able to recuperate. The recovery, if any, is not
miraculous, although it is the result of supernatural graces. Nor is it
'faith healing'. Recovery is not the result of self-induced confidence,
nor is it the inevitable consequence of the rite. In fact this is, in
the words of the Council of Trent, "Sacramentum
exeuntium", the sacrament of the departing. It is the crowning
of the Christian life. But all priests of long pastoral experience will
testify that some physical improvement is to be expected after it and
full recovery is not infrequent. Since grace here works on nature, it
is wrong to postpone administration of the sacrament until the patient
is almost at his last breath and incapable of recuperation.
The primary purpose of this sacrament is to give grace to the soul, but
the Church intends also to bring strength to the body through it, as is
clear from the prayers which she says in connection with it. The Bishop
prays thus over the sacred Oil for the sick in the Mass of the Oils of
Send forth from Heaven, we pray You, O
God, Your Holy Spirit into this rich Oil, which You have deigned to
produce from the green wood for the restoring of mind and body -
through Your blessing may all anointed with this Heavenly medicine be
protected in mind and body, all mental and physical pain, weakness and
sickness, being removed ...
Blessings of the Sick
The prayers in the Roman Ritual for the various blessings of the sick
indicate the Church's intention of healing the body as well as the
soul. The words said over a sick child are typical of many similar
Stretch forth Your hand therefore over
this Your servant deprived of health at such a tender age. Let health
be given back to him. May he live out his full span of years, and may
he never cease to give You loyal and grateful service all the days of
his life. Amen.
There are many sacramentals for the sick (that is, prayers, actions or
objects specially blessed by the Church, administered in a way
resembling a sacrament), with prayers for the restoration of full
health. Bread, wine, oil, water, are blessed to be used by the sick
with the invocation of saints whose names have been traditionally
associated with the curing of particular ills. The blessing of St
Blaise for the throat is a good example. Two candles are sprinkled with
Holy Water and the priest prays God to bless them:
So that all who shall be touched on the
neck with them may be freed from all disease of the throat, by the
merits of Christ's Passion, and in health and good cheer may give
thanks to You in Your Church and praise Your name, which is blessed for
The two candles are placed scissor-wise to the neck by the priest as he
Through the intercession of St Blaise,
bishop and martyr, may God free you from all disease of the throat, and
from all other evil; in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of
the Holy Ghost. Amen.
All Catholics know that there is no guarantee of cure in each case and
are encouraged to bear their sufferings patiently if it is not God's
will that they should be cured. But undoubtedly many are comforted and
not a few cured by such blessings.
The Church has always regarded the care of the sick as a noble
vocation, and holy people have dedicated themselves to it from earliest
times. In the early Middle Ages, and particularly during the Crusades,
religious Orders of both men and women were founded for this purpose.
Throughout the West, Hotels-Dieu, or Guest-Houses of God, were
established in which religious lived according to rule, with vows of
chastity, poverty, obedience and service of the sick, and whose
'guests' were invalids of all kinds. These Orders and their successors
have something unique to contribute to the practice of medicine, even
in these days of National Health Service.
Catholic Nursing - Christ heals
through His Church
There can be no doubt that the Catholic doctor and nurse, whether
religious or secular, bring a spirit of dedication and kindness to
their service of the sick derived from the grace of the sacraments.
Many who are not Christians prefer Catholic hospitals because of the
cheerful and kindly service of the nurses, particularly nuns, and the
air of refinement which religion brings to the wards. An atmosphere is
a vital factor in nursing. This is particularly true for Catholic
patients with deep faith. The sight of the crucifix and statue of Our
Lady, the knowledge that a priest is available to bless them, hear
their confession, bring Holy Communion and administer the sacrament of
Extreme Unction, are sources of great comfort. Doctors of all religious
beliefs and of none know as a fact of experience that 'the comforts of
religion' have a marked effect upon the emotions and contribute much to
the recovery of health. Through faith the patient loses his
self-centredness, shakes off his sense of guilt and banishes morbid
fears. Peace of mind and a sense of security under God's protection
develop hope and the conviction of having an important part to play in
life and stimulate the will to live, which is a vital factor in the
recovering of full health.
There are many false ideas taught and dangerous practices employed in
the name of religion in attempts to cure the sick by other than medical
means. 'Spiritual Healing' is a term popularly used to cover them all.
The different types of Spiritual Healing may be described under the
three headings of Divine Healing, Faith Healing, and Spirit Healing. It
is difficult to define what the proponents of these theories mean by
their terms, because their explanations, whether written or spoken, are
vague and various. A rough and brief outline of the dominant ideas of
each will be attempted.
Divine Healing is the term used in the Protestant Churches (chiefly the
Anglican) for the attempt to cure the sick through 'healing services'
in church with the sick present, or through the prayers of groups in
private, or the 'laying on of hands' and 'unction' by a minister in the
sick-room or hospital. Although the sixteenth century Protestants
neglected and even scorned the Sacrament of Extreme Unction, recent
Protestants imitate it more and more. The report of the Archbishop of
Canterbury's Commission in 1958, entitled "The Church's Ministry of
Healing", gives suitable forms for services of healing in which debt to
the Catholic ritual of Extreme Unction is obvious. But there are two
fundamental differences. First, it is clear that these are rites for
bodily healing primarily; secondly, that they suggest that the faith of
the patient and his will to be cured are dominant factors. The report
says: "Every effort, by resort to Scripture and by reference to the
divine commission of the Church, should be made to evoke firm faith in
the patient that the ministry of healing is valid and effective and
part of the substance of the gospel". The Commission recommends that
doctors and the minister of religion present should co-operate, showing
the same confidence. The emphasis hence is on strong 'suggestion'. One
is led to the conclusion that this is a respectable form of 'Faith
Healing', of which we must now speak.
The philosophy of Faith Healing is based on the conviction that mind
can dominate matter, that a sick person can overcome his illness so
long as his faith is sufficiently strong. It is not always clear what
faith is meant - the patient's faith in God, his faith in the healer,
or his faith in his own spiritual powers of recuperation. Normally all
these are implied.
Faith Healing is practised in its extreme and most dangerous form by
the Christian Scientists, a sect founded by Mary Baker Eddy in 1875.
This sect denies the reality of matter and says pain is a figment of
the imagination; that Christianity was founded to give mankind perfect
physical and mental health; that Christ was the great Healer and
intended all His followers to have powers of healing; that medicine is
of little use; that suffering is the fault of the sufferer, for he can
conquer it through faith. This strikes at the profession of medicine as
well as at the Faith. It causes delay in seeking medical attention,
suppression of symptoms and consequent new physical disorders. (Cf. What is Christian Science ?, by Dr.
L. Rumble M.S.C.)
This is the most pernicious of all the errors connected with this
subject. So-called 'spiritual healers' are in fact spiritualists who
claim to be mediums and agents on earth of great doctors of the past
who now, in the spirit-world, have even greater knowledge and skill in
medicine. Meetings like spiritualist seances are held with all the
mumbo-jumbo and trickery of Spiritualism. The healers also have
sessions of 'contact healing' in which they interview patients and lay
their hands on them, claiming to receive strength and inspiration from
the spirit-guides. They practise also 'absent-healing' - by
This is open to all the dangers of Spiritualism. It is completely
divorced from the Church founded by Christ and the doctrines He
committed to its care. It is a mixture of charlatanism, credulity and
emotionalism, and is the enemy of true religion and true medicine.
ON 'SPIRITUAL HEALING'
There are three fallacies
beneath all these ideas on healing. First
is the presumption that all illness is against the will of God and
wholly evil. In fact, suffering and disease are now a necessary
part of man's fallen state and are occasions of grace for him and a
more valuable way of making reparation for his sins.
Second is the idea that the faith of
the sufferer, stimulated by any form of 'suggestion' (religious
'suggestion' being particularly powerful), is the prime if not the only
factor in bringing about a cure. The Catholic Church teaches that it is
the direct action of God in answer to prayer which brings about a
supernatural cure, if this be His will.
Third is the belief that healing is
part of the normal ministry of the individual Christian priest,
and even layman, and may be exercised in the name of Christ without any
reference to His Church. In fact healing is a 'charism' given only to
individuals on rare occasions.
Such beliefs and practices have harmful effects both an religion and
medicine. False notions are taught, in the name of the Christian
religion, which make a mockery of true religion, by teaching error and
raising false hopes. Great harm is often done to the individual. He is in danger of losing his faith
if, as often happens, after his hopes of cure have been raised high by
religious fervour, there is either no result or a mere remission
brought about by emotional excitement. This is particularly true in the
case of Faith Healing when the sufferers are told that if there is no
cure it is their own fault because their faith is too weak.
The harmful medical effects on the
patient are manifold. The British Medical Association in
1956 published a report on
"Divine Healing and Co-operation between Doctors and Clergy",
made by a special commission at the request of the Archbishop of
Canterbury's Commission on Divine Healing. The report lists these
harmful effects of so-called Divine Healing, Faith Healing and Spirit
Often pain is relieved by
emotional experiences and auto-suggestion without the root of the
disease being affected. Pain is a most important guide to the doctor in
making his diagnosis. It is a principle of medical practice not to
alleviate pain until a firm diagnosis has been made. To destroy
symptoms by suggestion caused by laying on of hands, prayers and
ceremonies arousing religious enthusiasm, without curing the disease,
is doing the patient a grave disservice.
Raising false hopes of a cure
may cause a patient to delay taking
normal treatment. Indeed, Christian Scientists on principle
discourage any resort to medical aid. Absence of immediate cure and,
much more so, a relapse after a remission or temporary absence of
symptoms, may cause deep depression. Excessive fervour, particularly in
public healing-services, may destroy the emotional balance of the
patient and even lead to a physical or mental breakdown. Meetings of a
revivalist nature may destroy mental balance permanently, cause
hallucinations and consequent extreme depressions.
The harmful effects to medicine in
general are even more serious. The recognition of the right of
'spiritual healers' to enter hospitals would create two different
authorities both seeking to cure bodily ills. The 'spiritual healer's'
suggestions might easily be in direct opposition to the advice of
doctors and medical staff. Quietness of mind and body are normally
essential to recuperation. Often these healers seek to arouse fervour.
Far different are the ministrations of a Catholic priest who quietly
administers the sacraments of the Church and, while praying for good
health and encouraging the patient to have hope and confidence, seeks
to make him resigned to suffer patiently, if such be the will of God.
It cannot be denied that good effects may follow from these dangerous
beliefs and practices. God does reward faith wherever He finds it. Also
good effects follow naturally from strong suggestion and
auto-suggestion. Morale is built up and the will to recover
intensified. Many diseases of the body, particularly those caused by
anxiety, can be cured by relieving anxiety. Psycho-somatic diseases, in
which the physical condition is caused by mental illness or unrest, can
be cured by Spiritual Healing as by other forms of psychological
treatment. What the mind can cause the mind can cure. As for people
suffering from the less serious nervous complaints, it is not
surprising that they should have temporary and sometimes even permanent
relief from religious experiences, particularly if they are of an
emotional kind. But the harmful effects on the whole far outweigh the
Claims of remarkable cures are made by those practising the different
forms of Spiritual Healing. It is astonishing to the Catholic, used to
the stringent demands made by the Church in her examination of alleged
miracles, how meagre is the case-history and unscientific the
presentation of the medical evidence in connection with these claims,
even when they are made in print by reputable men.
There can be no doubt that suggestion, particularly when it is
supported by prayers and religious practices and backed by faith, will
calm the mind, build up morale and enable the body to recuperate
naturally. But claims of cures are to be treated with great caution.
The British Medical Association's
report says that most claims of cures of organic diseases by Spiritual
Healing alone are false for one or other of six reasons:
1. There was a mistake in diagnosis. A
psychological condition with physical effects was diagnosed and treated
as organic, or vice versa.
Thus, a case diagnosed and treated as epilepsy was in fact hysteria,
and an improvement caused by a profound religious experience removed
the physical symptoms.
2. There was a mistake in prognosis, or the foretelling of the future
course of the disease. It may resolve itself naturally but unexpectedly
under normal treatment.
3. There was alleviation of the symptoms without cure. Religious
excitement, enthusiasm, hypnotic suggestion, may remove pain and give
the stimulus for diseased organs to function; but when the stimulus
dies down the pain returns, and probably damage has been done to the
4. There was a remission. The symptoms disappeared naturally for a time
though the diseased condition remained. Often the claimed 'miracle'
receives great publicity, the relapse none.
5. There was a spontaneous natural cure. Such inexplicable recoveries
occasionally happen under normal circumstances.
6. There was continued treatment. The cure was due to normal treatment,
but the credulous patient attributed it to faith-healing practices
carried on at the same time.
The report concludes: "When all these possibilities are considered it
leaves little room for miraculous cures of organic disease by methods
of spiritual healing" (op. cit.,
( Footnote: One is led to conclude that the committee did not
sufficiently study the miracles of Lourdes. It shows a certain
indecision in commenting on them in passing. However, it does refer to
them in this context as events "which cannot be explained".)
In this as in all things the Church maintains the balance between the
extremes of scepticism on the one hand and credulity on the other. She
teaches that sickness and pain are evil consequences of Original Sin,
but that in His Passion and death Christ has ennobled them and calls
upon all Christians to unite their sufferings to His in reparation for
the sins of the world.
She teaches that Christ worked miracles of healing as proof of His
divinity and continues to do so through the members of His Church,
although no one can claim this power as part of his office. But, apart
from miracles, He brings grace and comfort to the souls and health to
the bodies of the sick through the sacraments and sacramentals and the
charity of Christian doctors and nurses.
The laws of Nature are the will of God and we must not expect Him to be
constantly suspending them; yet we may trustfully ask Him for health in
sickness, knowing that He will give it if it be for the good of our
souls. But we must be resigned to suffer and we gain great merit if we
desire suffering for His sake.
We must be doubtful of all claims of miracles whilst admitting the
possibility of them, expect Nature to run her normal course yet realize
that the influence of the supernatural upon it is part of God's plan.
The supernatural touches the natural at all points.
The angels keep their ancient places;
Turn but a stone, and start a wing!
'Tis ye, 'tis your estranged faces,
That miss the many-splendour'd thing.
But (when so sad thou canst not sadder)
Cry; - and upon thy so sore loss
Shall shine the traffic of Jacob's ladder
Pitched betwixt Heaven and Charing Cross.
Yea, in the night, my Soul, my daughter,
Cry, - clinging Heaven by the hems;
And lo, Christ walking on the water,
Not of Gennesareth, but Thames!
* * * * *