The Faith Pill

clipped from www.realcities.com

Grossi de Almeida attributes the miracle of her son’s birth to a paper “pill” inscribed with a prayer that she ate during her pregnancy. The Vatican agrees, pronouncing Enzzo one of the two miracles needed to declare the creator of the pills, an 18th-century Franciscan monk named Antonio de Sant’Anna Galvao, a saint.

Galvao’s pills reportedly have cured thousands of Brazilians of everything from depression to hepatitis. His elevation to sainthood will be long-delayed recognition of what many believe is an ongoing miracle that’s saved – or bettered – lives for more than two centuries.

Believers swallow three seed-sized pills over nine days, during which they recite the prayer printed on the paper.

“It’s a vehicle of faith,” said Grossi de Almeida, who miscarried twice, including losing twins, before Enzzo was born. “You take the pills, and you believe in them, you believe they will make you better, and you become stronger in your faith. You know there’s a God that helps you.”

Who am I to doubt these miracle “faith pills”? After all, it’s all a matter of belief anyway right? And even if I can’t understand it, who am I to question it or reason the “what’s” and “whys”? What gives me the right after all to dismiss all of these people’s experiences and feelings about these miracles? I mean, if these people believe in something that I cannot conceive or rationally prove, they are not misguided, are they? I certainly would hate to be unenlightened and even cast a hint of doubt towards these faithful believers. No evidence necessary whatsoever… not in this case.

29 thoughts on “The Faith Pill”

  1. Lowend, I think Thomas’ need to physically touch Jesus’ wounds does render him faithless. He would not believe without proof. Once he had his proof, then and only then did he believe Christ had indeed risen from the dead as He said He would. That is not faith, when faith is defined as belief without proof, which is how I see faith defined all the time by Christians. It is the proof that produced Thomas’ belief, not faith. Am I missing something in the scriptures?

  2. <>To me there balance can not be achieved in repentance because it’s God who does everything. There is nothing I can do independent of God to help myself.<>I think you misunderstood me. What I meant to say is that given that we will never in this life be sin free, no matter how much we repent we will always have something else to repent of. That’s what came up for me when you said that you had repented. So we spend, I think, less time “in repentance” than we do on our way to our next repentance.

  3. Y’know, I have read about the pieces of cloth that Paul blessed and sent to people who were healed when they touched them. Vehicle of faith? I don’t entirely know what to make of that.I don’t know what to make of this, either. I suppose I have believed things that sound equally crazy. What would make me nuts is if someone were charging money for those “pills.” Give it time. Someone will think of it.

  4. Everything else aside, this post reminds me of the story of Samson where he credits his long hair as his source of strength. It is the “you take the pills, and you believe in them, you believe they will make you better” that struck me.

  5. Those faith pills might be just a little better then the ‘blue, yellow, and purple pills’ D12 sings about in the song ‘purple pills’.

  6. <>Yes. Have you?<>Repenting is kind of like achieving perfect balance, don’t you think? You’re usually on your way to it or from it more than you’re at it.

  7. I guess that depends entirely on what you mean by <>matter<>, doesn’t it? If by matter you mean to be effective, then no it doesn’t. I’ve seen people have faith in love, in themselves, in chance, what have you, and get results. If by matter you mean does it matter to God what name you call him as an object of faith… well, that’s entirely up to God.

  8. Isn’t this just another form of the placebo effect? In this case it’s seed pills, but which seed I do not know, instead of starch pills or sugar pills. Perhaps this is a case for legitiamte faith healing. It seems to me that absolute faith in the pill and the accompanying prayer are what are responsible for the cures we’re supposedly seeing. Can these cures be verified though? Do we have proof that these people were once sick and can we also prove that the only thing that changed in their lives was the taking of this pill and reciting the accompanying prayer?

  9. great post steve.I think this is a perfect example of the individual relationship that God designed and craves with each and everyone of us: “To each their own.” That is to say, as uniquely created beings, we all respond to God in different ways, each equally relevant and legitimate in its own right. Thomas “the doubter” needed to touch Jesus wound. Does that make Thomas week or faithless? I think not. What matters in the end is not neccessarily what the vehicle is we require to establish a personal connection to God (for some that must not even be a tangeble item…others might prefer a ritual), as long as it is motivated by the pure desire to grow in relation to him.In other words, the faith/belief should be in God–not the object. Sadly, we know all to well that there have been, are, and always will be those who screw that up. This however (IMO) does not lessen the very real power that true faith/belief in God and his love has.

  10. Zec, I can relate to where Steve’s coming from. I too am having a real crisis of faith. I feel horrible for doubting the existence of God, but that’s where I’m at. I can’t say I’m an atheist or agnostic yet, but I am very uncertain about the reality of God. The thing is that there have been so many times in my past that a trancendent power seemed to have my back and bailed me out of some serious stuff. I feel awful about my lack of faith at this time.

  11. I know from personal experience that my faith is indeed peppered with doubts from time to time. If it weren’t, I would indeed be worried. 🙂

  12. In the end, for me all this stuff like taking pills, drinking blessed water, swallowing pieces of the true cross, bet that hurt comin’ out, is all part of a works righteous belief system that flies in the face of the truth of scripture found in Ephesians 2:8-9. When it comes to salvation, I can’t do anything for myself, God does it all.

  13. If you find yourself spending more time going to repent or coming from repenting rather than time spent repenting, how can you ever achieve balance? Also, are you referring to the practice of private confession with a priest or minister instead of repentance? I can repent of my sin anywhere.I find myself daily confessing and turning from the sins in my life, repentance. To me it’s not a change of mind or attitude, as Christians today like to define it. To me there balance can not be achieved in repentance because it’s God who does everything. There is nothing I can do independent of God to help myself.

  14. Hey Steve, I think you’d like this article and (most of) the following comments:< HREF="http://theparish.typepad.com/parish/2007/05/regarding_my_re.html" REL="nofollow">The Parish, regarding Faith ‘n Shizzle<> (not the real title). 🙂

  15. Whether or not they are misguided it still holds true what Jesus said when the woman touched the hem of His cloak. Putting a measure of doubt towards the experience of others only compounds the doubts that already exist in our own hearts.

  16. I don’t want to come in sounding like I have all the answers, but I too went through a time like this oh a year and a half ago. I was told I may be experiencing what St. John of the Cross talked about in his poem The Dark Night of the Soul. I was told not to be concerned and that every Christian at one time in their walk with Christ and maybe more than once depending upon your circumstances does go through this type of period where you either want proof or you’re just indifferent. I was indifferent, I felt nothing like I was spiritually dead. In my case I kept reading the Bible, I was reading the Psalms at the time and after I got out of that book, I felt an urge to read the Gospels again to see if I could find any statement by Jesus where He said “if you ask me into your heart I will save you.” read the Gospels again and nope, it’s not in there! What is in there is “repent or you too shall likewise perish.” Anyway, I’m off the topic now, so I’ll stop writing. LOL Take care.

  17. A few times in this conversation I’ve been reminded of something my wife pointed out to me a while back. I was complaining that I feel so out of touch with my mom because we live so far apart and I hardly ever see her. She said that I should call her more. I didn’t like that answer, ’cause I really dislike talking on the phone. She was right, though… I’m disconnected from my mom because I don’t interact with her. We don’t see each other, we don’t talk. So I started calling her more, and the disconnect started to recede.I’ve found that it’s the same in my relationship with the Lord. When I don’t talk to Him, I feel disconnected, I’m out of touch with my own commitment to Him and I have a hard time feeling like He’s <>real<>. When I take the time to read the Bible, or study His ways in books other people have written, or just sit down quietly to pray or seek His presence, I regain that connection. The ethereal idea of God fades and the reality of this great Creator that I actually have a relationship with takes its place.I guess I could say the same of my relationship with my wife. When we get too busy with activities that keep us separate, we start to feel more like roommates than husband and wife. The disconnection grows, the tenderness and affection recede. So we realize it and we make sure to spend more time together, and our intimate connection snaps back. That’s just relationships, I think, and the relationship we have with God is no different in that regard.

  18. zec – I hear what you’re saying. I guess I would just interpret his actions as a “faith booster”. To say that he had NO faith would imply that he would have never bothered with Jesus at all. But he was a real man with weaknesses and doubts, and was at that moment given the opportunity to have his “faith” confirmed through a physical touch. I believe that faith and doubt can co-exist, one could even argue that they must do so to create balance.Doubt without faith is like talking about God but never summoning the willingness to follow him. And faith without doubt…well that’s tricky. You would think this might be the biblical ideal, but unfortunatly it is this very thinking that produces the likes of the TBN’s and the Ted Haggard’s. If you find your faith is peppered with a healthy dose of doubt, I think you’re on the right path.

  19. From zeke: <>So we spend, I think, less time “in repentance” than we do on our way to our next repentance.<>Ah, but I think it’s important that we don’t let that become the focus of our relationship with God. I’ve personally found that thinking all the time about what I’ve done wrong tends to point my mind in the wrong direction. I’m not perfect at this, for sure, but I think it’s much better to focus on living our lives for the Lord we love rather than dwelling all the time on how we’ve failed to do that. Of course there’s going to be a cycle of sin and repentance — we *are* human. Christ’s sacrifice means that the cycle of it doesn’t have to dominate us, though. If the focus of our lives is how we’ve failed to be perfect, I believe we’ll have lives that fall far short of reflecting God’s greatness here on Earth.(Of course, that’s not to say that we should ignore our sin, either!)

  20. This smells like another case of Benny Hinn virus… I’m suspicious. Although I’m not surprised that people ascribe to this form of remedy. This idea of the miracle pill is emerging in some extreme charismatic circles now. About a year ago, a woman once told me my arthritis was the result of generational sin leading back to my great-great-grandfather in the Ukraine (Jesus allegedly told her this). She then told me I needed to buy these special curse binding pills to break the hold of the demons in my arthritic joints. In order to activate their demon crushing power she had to say the special curse-binding prayer. Creepy.

  21. To get an intersting insight into this whole area of discussion, Google “pygmalion effect” … a fascinating psychological effect that has loads of implications for faith/religion.It’s a bit like Jesus said when raising Lazarus from the dead “…if you believe then you will see …” (John 11:40). Believing always comes before seeing.A lot of this “vehicles of faith” stuff is particularly prevelant in Roman Catholicism, but also in celtic Christianity. The Celtics attributed a lot of miracles to swallowing bits of the “true cross”, and many of the celtic saints were reported to do amazing miraculous signs & wonders. (It’s amazing how many people who hate Benny Hinn would venerate someone like St Bede of St Aidan … it’s amazing how several hundred years changes peoples perceptions!)As for the discussion about whether the object of our faith matters … it depends on what you are wanting. For the forgiveness of sins, eternal life and other things of the “other kingdomn” then yes it does matter. If it’s miracles then it doesn’t. I guess that’s why Jesus said that we shouldn’t make miracles the basis of our faith … “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead”.

  22. By matter… I mean… is it important or significant what a person places their faith or belief in… or is it completely arbitrary? Shouldn’t the object that one trusts be “trustworthy”? And, if so, how is that determined?Even the Vatican attempted to verify these miracles using scientific testing to determine their veracity. Or, if we simply can’t explain something do we automatically categorize it as a miracle and therefore “from God”? Is this all just a matter of one’s own viewpoint and perception? Is it us forming God in our own image when it seems to suit our presuppostions?So.. is the end result is all that matters I guess regardless of the object of faith… be that chance, or God, or faith pills, or flying toasters.Just asking the questions… completely ignorant, stupid and unenlightened as they may be.

  23. I hear ya Zeke… and that’s a great point. But that pretty much transitions into the question… does it matter then what <>object<> your faith and belief is in or just that you have faith and believe in something?

  24. And then I recall one of the most mystifying stories in the Bible, that of the woman with the “issue of blood” that was healed when she touched the hem of Jesus’s garment. What’s amazing isn’t so much that she was healed, but that Jesus said ‘Someone touched Me; I know that power has gone out from Me.’ In other words, Jesus healed her <>passively<>. Something she did simply drew on a well of power and it didn’t rely on Jesus deciding to help her.That’s just weird. Puzzles me every time I read it… draw your own conclusions.But to your point, Steve, there’s no need to rationally question the power of belief. Faith–in broader terms, not just narrower terms of religious belief–has a power all its own; we’ve all seen it sustain people through terminal diseases to healing, through poverty to riches, through obstacles to accomplishments. Whether magical, spiritual, or scientific, something must explain a phenomenon that is happening all over the world every day. Just because it doesn’t make rational sense <>so far<> doesn’t mean it isn’t as real as the computer screen you’re reading this on.

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