Miracles and Orthodoxy
Bishop Alexander has an interesting article
about Orthodoxy and miracles (including a bit on the Holy Light
There is another well-known miracle, The Holy Fire or Holy Light, which repeats itself every year in Jerusalem on the Orthodox Pascha. All who congregate at the Tomb of the Lord when the Fire comes down see this miracle, and everyone can touch the flame with their hands, which does not burn for some time. This has been tested by thousands of witnesses. The candle burns, and a hand or even a beard can be held in the flame of the candle without being harmed. This can be done by anyone. Even from a scientific point of view, this is a fact known to the whole world. And so — is the whole world flocking to convert to Orthodoxy? — No such phenomenon is observed. Why? Because one fact is not enough for the formation of an entire ideology. There needs to be a theory explaining the fact.
There can be several theories, and each one explains the same fact differently. Each person must choose for himself what the theory should be. The problem is, that there is no logical transition from one theory to another. Axioms lie at the base of any theory (initial propositions accepted without proof) and then, naturally, a reason is found for everything. Subsequently, everything depends not on who, but on what. What — is matter, the screws of the mechanism; that, which dictates the development of the event. But which set of screws to use depends not on what, but who. It is this who that chooses. In Orthodox theology, this "who" is called a person (in Greek-hypostasis). A person takes the first illogical step, and then, functions by logic. It turns out that everyone decides which theory to accept individually.
Science follows those theories that, by explaining previous facts, can predict subsequent facts, or show how and when to record facts yet unknown. As long as the theory "works," it is trusted. Even if we know that it is not 100% true, we can comfortably apply the theory within its functioning boundaries. This explains the presence of sometimes very primitive theories in science. The logic is, that if there is no need for something more, then facts not explained by a particular theory can be disregarded, there is no need to rack one’s brain over it.
The same holds true when choosing a position in spiritual life. So the fire doesn’t burn, so what? You say that your God is the most powerful? He will chastise me and send me into eternal torment if I am not for Him? If so, then I am all the more against Him. Your God demonstrates His power before me: ‘I can walk on water and you can’t; I can turn rocks into bread, while you will die in the desert without Me.’ So, I’ll die, but I won’t submit! I am free and will not become a slave.
This is what undeniable facts can lead to. Brave and free men may not be convinced, but instead, be challenged to rebel. A fact is a thing that cannot be denied, but can be fought against. Even if we die, we have the right not to bow before any power. Fact is a well-known coercion or compulsion. Any theory can be thrown out and replaced by another that is more compatible to a personal ideology, but with facts you can either fight or submit to them. There is no other option. That is why the Lord has not made miracles a fact of our everyday life. They would force a person to make a choice.
The miracle of the Holy Fire is repeated every year, but is not obtrusive because it is observed only by those who wish to see it. It is sent by God as a heavenly joy, to increase understanding, as a fatherly reminder, and as a confirmation for the doubting.
In this way, for the Orthodox person, miracles are just as real a manifestation of life as any other manifestation. This is all providentially given to us by God. Some of us need material help, some of us need relief from physical sufferings, while someone needs enlightenment, encouragement to examine their relationship to life — and right before their eyes a Holy icon begins to exude oil. Every miracle of God has its particular good purpose, and for this reason an Orthodox person considers it a sin to seek a miracle for the sake of the miracle itself — for the satisfaction of his own curiosity.
If the supernatural happens in the life of a believer, an appearance of light or an Angel during prayer, for example, Orthodox believers who sincerely love God will reason thus: "God knows that I love Him, but my love is not dependent on handouts, if, of course, it is not dictated by some real necessity. Consequently, this is someone else, in the likeness of God, trying to demonstrate to me his "love." God does not make empty plays. That means this is probably someone trying to deceive me. Why should I be shown what I already know if it is not necessary for the fulfillment of my obedience. These types of "empty" miracles are most likely worldly manifestations hostile to God, and therefore I will not pay attention to them. If I am praying to God, then how can this manifested Angel be distracting me from prayer? If it is an Angel of the Lord, then he would not do that. That means that he is not of God. And if he is not of God, then it is dangerous to get involved; I am not yet spiritually strong enough."
The article contains many different stories of miracles, and I found it quite enjoyable
And besides...your pulse canons ruined my bunny slippers.