One could also "go see for themselves" the weeping Icon the one monastery in Texas (or was it Oklahoma?) had, which was "miraculous" and "healed" many people, and yet it was later admitted to be a hoax. The monks even explained how they faked the whole thing in specific detail. One can also go "see for themselves" miraculous tombs and incorrupted relics of Roman Catholic saints. Are you willing to concede that those post schism saints' relics are also real? (I personally have no problem with post schism saints being "real saints" but many Orthodox do so that's why I ask)
Hoaxes exist, but as I said to Heorhij
, so does the anti-Christ. However David Koresh (of Waco, TX fame) proclaiming himself to be Christ does not alter my faith in the Risen Lord.
As far as post-schism saints, yes, I believe their relics are real. We know where the grace of the Lord is, we don't know where it isn't. It is not for me to judge who is Holy and who is not, but for God himself. If a person is healed by venerating the relics of Francis of Assisi, to God be the glory!
I believe it is God working through the relics, not necassarily the piece of bone itself, that heals. For as we read in the Gospel of Matthew,
"For she said to herself, “If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well.” But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, “Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith
has made you well.” And the woman was made well from that hour." Matthew 9:21-23 (New King James Version)
And I've thought about this as of late...why in the world a dead saint's body "gushing myrrh" is a miracle in the first place? What is the purpose of a such a miracle? Do miracles have a purpose? Is it a "sign"? If they do then what does a corpse "gushing myrrh" say? (I know much of the theology about Theosis and can expound on that, but that really says basically zero to 98% of the people on earth who couldn't care less about the theological understanding of such an event) Is it really myrrh to begin with? And is it really coming from the corpse, or from somewhere else? (like perhaps the body being anointed with myrrh upon burial?) Most so called "incorrupted" relics are hardly well preserved. They simply look like dried/mummified bodies to me. And I think many of them have completely natural explanations. Some are remarkably well preserved indeed, but most really aren't. I think we just tend to want to believe and hence we believe. This can also bring up the question what is a miracle anyway? Are miracles events where God breaks the cosmic laws and bends nature to His will? If so, why not do something a tad more convincing than something that can and has been so easily faked over so much of Church history?
Much of this is a mystery and a matter of faith. In regards to the gushing of myrhh, well most bodies don't gush myrhh that heals, so that is why many consider it a miracle. In the case of St. Demetrius, a beautiful scent emanated from his tomb after his burial. As it was common for bodies to be annointed with oil at burial, for the scent of the myrhh to emanate so strongly beyond the tomb to distinguish it from other corpses, obviously it had to be pretty powerful. I have been annointed with oil from his tomb, and it is truly a beautiful fragrance. While I personally have not received healing of body from the oil, I believe others have, and I believe it is healing to the soul.
Or are miracles something a bit different? Is not the blooming of a flower a "miracle"? Or the birth of a baby? These have completely observable explanations yet I call these things in some sense a "miracle". The miracle of life. The miracle of love, friendship, a sunset etc. I know people who have been anointed by myrrh from a "myrrh gushing" saint's body, and they experienced no earth shattering, or cosmic law breaking type healing....yet as the years went on, with doctors, proper care, and yes, I do believe with prayer, they gradually improved. Is that any less of a miracle than someone who is healed on the spot? Having prayed for healing and having been "healed" myself I do believe in the power of prayer, and I have no problem with miraculous icons etc per se....but I feel sometimes we get a bit worked up over these things. People crying hysterically in front of icons weeping, or "moving" or saint's body parts flown around the country as though they were an art exhibit. I venerate icons, and saints relics, and certainly God can do anything He wants any way He wants to, but I guess I think it's better to be cautious in regards to these things because so many people have been taken in by hoaxes. And yes, sometimes people were "healed" even by hoaxes...so is the power of healing limited to the icon? I'd say definitely no. But I admit, I'm a skeptic by nature, and probably would be thought of as having a "weak faith", but that's that. I guess I just feel like miracles happen every day, even though they might have completely natural explanations.
No one is saying the blooming of a rose or the healing through the treatment prescribed by a doctor is not a miracle. We thank God for both of these occurances in our services.
"By the power of the Holy Spirit every flower breathes. Thy breath I
feel in the quiet movement of the fragrant fields. Observing the harmony
of colors I admire Thee. Wherever I look, I see all around me
the beauty of the Great One in the little.Glory and thanks to the lifecreating
God Who covers the earth with flowery meadows, crowns
the fields with golden ears of grain and embellishes them with blue
cornflowers, and my soul with the joy of contemplation. Be glad and
sing to Him: Alleluia!" Akathist of Thanksgiving
"O Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior, the Physician of souls and bodies, who didst become man and suffered death on the cross for our salvation, and through thy tender love and compassion didst heal all manner of sickness and affliction: do thou O Lord, visit me in my suffering, and grant me grace and strength to bear this sickness with which I am afflicted, with Christian patience and submission to thy will, trusting in thy loving kindness and tender mercy. Bless, I pray thee, the means used for my recovery, and those who administer them.
I know O Lord, that I justly deserve any punishment thou mayest inflict upon me, for I have so often offended thee and sinned against thee, in thought, word, and deed. There- fore, I humbly pray thee, look upon my weakness, and deal not with me after my sins, but according to the multitude of thy mercies. Have compassion on me, and let mercy and justice meet and deliver me from this sickness and suffering I am undergoing. Grant that my sickness may be the means of my true repentance and amendment of my life according to thy will, that I may spend the rest of my days in thy love and fear; that my soul, being helped by thy grace and sanctified by thy Holy Mysteries, may be prepared for its passage to the Eternal Life. And there, in the company of thy blessed Saints, may praise and glorify thee with thy Eternal Father and Life-giving Spirit. Amen." Eastern Orthodox Prayer for Healing
However, if a person who is a cripple is annointed with oil from the relics of a saint and can suddenly walk because of the annointing, should not God be praised?
As Orthodox Christians, we do not put "God in a box." We know that God works in many ways.
Isaiah 55:8-9 (New King James Version)
8 “ For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.
9 “ For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts
It has always been Orthodox belief that God works in many different ways, and that it is not limited to healing through relics, however we also realize that God has used relics to heal.
So rather than become cynical at the hoaxes that exist, we should praise God that genuine healings do happen through the veneration of relics, and through the treatment of medicine through doctors. For both are gifts from God, and to God be the glory forever and ever. Amen.