‘Signs and wonders’ through Blessed Solanus, Ste. Anne a pledge of God’s deep love

As Detroit Church celebrates two special feast days, modern-day miracles a sign that God will never abandon His children in Detroit

This week, as the Church celebrates the feast days of Ste. Anne (July 26), the patroness of the Archdiocese of Detroit, and Blessed Solanus (July 30), a son of the local Church, let us be reminded that the prayers God answers on behalf of these saints are meant for the spiritual good of all the faithful in southeast Michigan.

The personal stories of healings and favors in this Detroit Catholic special report are just a sampling of the many powerful ways in which God continues to bless His children in Detroit. 

Sr. Mary Martha Becnel, OP

Like the saints, let’s let God love us

The following is a brief reflection on the role of “signs and wonders” in our day, and how heavenly intercessors continue to bless the Church in a special way. Whether our needs are physical, spiritual or emotional, let us never tire of looking to Him who died and rose so that we might have life eternal with Him.

Last year, one of my students was particularly enamored of the saints. He was constantly choosing saint books to read, asking questions about the saints, and drawing pictures of them. What was it that so attracted him to saints? And how can we grow in that child-like love for our heavenly intercessors?

In the words of one of my high school theology teachers, saints are those who “let God love them.” This was a confusing statement to me at the time, because I thought of saints as those who had loved God and attained heaven. But my imperfect understanding actually leaned toward a heresy called Pelagianism, which proposes that we can attain salvation by our own efforts alone. 

How ‘signs and wonders’ help us to Unleash the Gospel (Marker 1.3)

The truth is that the saints are holy not because of their own efforts, but because they have let God Himself transform them by responding to His love and His grace. This is why we look to them as examples of how to live and how to become what God made us to be; they show us how to open ourselves to the purifying, transforming love of God! What attracted my students to the stories of the saints was precisely the love of God Himself shining through them.

But what about all the “signs and wonders” generally associated with the lives of many of the saints? Take our local Blessed Solanus Casey, for example. He was known for working miracles of all kinds — many healing miracles, financial miracles, even the unusual miracle of ice cream wondrously preserved in his desk drawer for an extended time. Does this not seem so unlike our own experiences? How can we understand the saints when their experiences seem so unlike our own? 

And yet, these signs and wonders are not removed from our midst. Living in Huntington, Ind., for several months, where Blessed Solanus was once assigned, I met several people who knew someone healed through the intercession of Fr. Solanus. It is key, too, to realize that these healings happened not by Solanus’ power — he would be the first to insist on this — but by the power of God. Most of the miracles surrounding Fr. Solanus occurred when he registered people in the Seraphic Mass Association. It was the power of God in the Mass that led to these healings! And the miracle of the Mass continues in our day.

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So, too, do miracles through the intercession of the saints. Just like those who lived alongside Solanus and other saints, we ask these men and women filled with the love of God to pray for us. It is important to remember when we think of praying to the saints that we are asking their intercession — that is, seeking their prayers to God for us — not praying to them as we would to God alone. We ask the saints to pray for us because of their closeness to God; they surround His heavenly throne for all eternity!

As the saints did, let us expect God to show up in our lives. Let us live in prayerful expectation that He will come to us with the transforming power of His love. Let us live in child-like trust that He will pour out His healing and His grace upon us, to draw us ever closer to Himself. Let us learn from the example of the saints to let Him love us!

Sr. Mary Martha Becnel is a member of the Ann Arbor-based Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.