To improve my English and to strengthen my faith during this Year of Faith, I chose to read some novels written by Bruce Marshall (1899-1987). I had already read the Italian version, thanks to the Jaca Book publisher house. The first book I read was Father Malachy’s Miracle (1947), a novel about a little man with a big soul, and the story of his faith “which is as delightful as a walk through a meadow in spring.”
An argument between the rationalist Anglican clergyman Reverend Humphrey Hamilton, Master of Arts of the University of Cambridge, and a Catholic Benedictine monk, Father Malachy Murdoch, over the placement of “The Garden of Eden” dance hall results in a strange miracle. The dance hall is next door to the Margaret of Scotland parish church, and on the tenth of December, the feast of the Translation of the Holy House of Loretto, the dance hall, “that flaunting Babylon opposite” as the Very Reverend Shamus Canon Georghegan called it in his sermons, and everyone inside vanished and reappeared on Bass Rock, an island in the outer part of the Firth of Forth in the east of Scotland.
In the book “the supernatural firework to bring the English-speaking peoples back to God” is accorded to Father Malachy. The priest is convinced he has won the argument, and God is on his side, but the miracle causes him more trouble than it solves…
Bruce Marshall’s Father Malachy’s Miracle is able to let you laugh in every chapter by a delightful meditation about the sense of miracle and about this Jesus words: “But Abraham answered him, If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will be unbelieving still, though one should rise from the dead” (Luke, 16:31) and this: “It is a wicked and unfaithful generation that asks for a sign” (Matthew, 16:4). And Father Malachy concludes: “Indeed I blame nobody but myself who was presumptuous enough to imagine that I could cure by one burst of celestial fireworks what twenty centuries of saintly Catholic lives have failed to remedy. We must obey, Canon; there is no other way out of it.”