Eucharistic Appetizer: Eucharistic Miracles and Mary
To wrap up...
To wrap up...
In our time together, we’ve covered how God has gradually and continuously revealed his plan to nourish us with his very body and blood. We’ve discussed how this body and blood is transmitted to us through consecrated bread and wine, and how even that reality is part of God’s plan of salvation history from the dawn of time.
Last month, we looked at the Mass as the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to be with us always, until the end of the age through His Real Presence in the Eucharist. This Real Presence is made available to us through the Sacrifice of the Mass, where heaven meets earth, and the entire Church along with the heavenly host gathers together to worship the living God.
Hopefully, these little formation nuggets have helped to bring you into the mystery of the Mass a little more deeply and renew your commitment to the Eucharist as we work towards a Eucharistic Revival in our Church. For tonight, our last night together, I wanted to share something of how God is still giving us glimpses of what is really going on during the Mass and what that seemingly insignificant little wafer really is.
Sometimes, when we read about the miracles in the Bible or in a book about the saints, it’s hard to envision those miracles happening in our day and age. But, they do. In fact, there have been several Eucharistic Miracles reported over the course of history, with four approved miracles related to the Eucharist occurring in THIS century. For the sake of time, we’ll look at 3 relatively recent miracles: one from Buenos Aires, one from Tixtla, Mexico, and one from Solkolka, Poland.
In 1996, after an evening Mass, a parishioner told the priest that a consecrated host has been left on a candleholder in the back of the Church. Unable to consume the host, the priest put it into a glass of water to dissolve overnight in the tabernacle. When the priest opened the tabernacle the next morning, he saw that the glass no longer contained anything that looked like a host.
Instead, the glass held a piece of bloody tissue. He informed his local bishop, and the bishop asked the priest to have the tissue professionally photographed and to keep the host in the tabernacle without publicizing it. Three years later, the bishop ordered the tissue to be scientifically tested. This is what their tests revealed: the tissue is a fragment of heart muscle found in the left ventricle, which is responsible for the contraction of the heart to pump blood to all parts of the body. The muscle tissue is in an inflammatory condition, meaning the heart was under stress. There is also the presence of a large number of white blood cells. This is significant because these cells typically die when outside a living organism, so their presence indicates that the tissue came from a living heart. Furthermore, the white blood cells hadn’t penetrated the tissue, which indicates the heart was under severe stress as if the body had been beaten severely around the chest area. Finally, the blood type present was that of a type AB male, which is the same blood type observed in other Eucharistic Miracles. AB blood type, in addition to being a rarest type, is the universal recipient, meaning that a person with AB blood can receive blood from all other blood types without negative effect.
The theological implications of each of those scientific facts is extraordinary when considering that we believe this to be the blood of Jesus Christ. One other fun fact about the Miracle of Buenos Aires is that the local bishop at the time was Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio, who would become Pope Francis.
Moving north now to Tixtla, Mexico. In 2006, two priests were distributing Communion during a spiritual retreat, assisted by a religious sister. When the sister went to take Communion to a lady in the pew, she noticed that the Host was effusing a reddish substance. The host was secured and after rigorous testing on two separate occasions, the results were released in 2013.
Both independent testing groups revealed that the substance contained DNA of human origin and belonged to a male with type AB blood. Furthermore, they found that the substance was emanating from inside the host, not superficially on top of the host. A test from 2010 also revealed the presence of fresh blood, as if the host was bleeding. As with the Miracle in Argentina, they found white blood cells indicating the sample came from a living host under severe duress. There is no known natural or scientific explanation for any of these findings.
Finally, we will head to Europe for the Miracle observed in Sokolka, Poland in 2008. During an early morning Mass, a consecrated host fell from the hands of a priest during distribution of Communion. As with Buenos Aires, the host was placed in a glass of water to dissolve. A week later, a religious sister went to retrieve the glass, and when she opened the door of the safe where it was being kept, she was struck by the smell of unleavened bread. When she looked at the host, there was a large red stain and the water where the host was placed was unaffected by the presence of a fragment of the still-intact host. For a year, this discovery was kept in secret as the Church authorities reflected on how to proceed.
Within 6 months of the event, the fragment of host had dried out and remained as a blood stain or clot. It still appears this way. As with the other Eucharistic Miracles we have mentioned, extensive testing was done on the sample. They found that the blood sample had inextricably interwoven with the particles of the host, which had maintained the properties of bread. The studies found, as the other two Miracles, the blood from the heart muscle of a living man close to death.
These Eucharistic Miracles are incredible and awe-inspiring. Hopefully, their magnificence leads us to a greater reverence of the Eucharistic Miracle that happens at every Mass around the world when our meager offerings of wheat and wine are miraculously transubstantiated into the body and blood of the living God, Jesus Christ.
One last thought for the night…In all these covenants that we’ve examined, God communicated them through the person or persons instituting the covenant…Adam and Eve received their call directly from God at their creation; Noah received his call later in life, as did Abraham, Moses, and David.
How did God choose to institute the covenant he made through his Son, Jesus Christ? Let me phrase it this way, where was Jesus first proclaimed the Messiah and Son of the Most High?
In the womb of Mary. It’s Mary who God endowed with the special grace of communicating the body of Jesus Christ to institute this final covenant with the world. It’s Mary who continues to come to us as a pregnant woman, full of the living presence of God in the flesh.
As we meditate on that Real Presence on the altar, may we also be drawn into the Real Presence of God in the womb of our Mother Mary. Let us pray...
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you. Thank you for the gift of your body, not just in spirit but in a human body. Thank you for making yourself present to us as real food and drink. Thank you for the gift of your mother, who leads us forever to your real presence, a tangible presence you revealed first to her. May we take Mary’s disposition as our guide, ever-trusting in your presence no matter how veiled, ever-open to your plan for us no matter how impossible, ever-willing to bring your word to the world no matter how difficult. We ask this through your Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.