Love's Own Designs
"How many insults must Jesus Christ have suffered in this Sacrament, in order to remain with us. Some have trampled on the Sacred Host, and others have thrown It into the mire. He foresaw all these injuries; but still He resolved to remain with us on the altar, that we might not be deprived of His amiable presence."
St. Peter Julian Eymard
This particular presentation was given a few years ago at a Eucharistic conference that our chapter of the World Apostle of Fatima held in May of 1985. The day of the conference was the anniversary of Padre Pio's birth. The other presentations that day dwelt on the theology and the Church's teachings on the Eucharist. My material specifically covered the miraculous aspect of the Eucharist, that is the Host turning into flesh, the wine turning into actual blood, and the other miracles that are associated with the Eucharist that defied the laws of nature. I hope that what you are going to read will enrich your love for Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, because at the time I researched this material, there were no books available on Eucharist miracles. The book, "Eucharistic Miracles" Tan has published, came out a year or two later, after I gave this talk. Evidently there was a need for it and someone fulfilled the need. We will now go into the talk as I presented it in May of 1985.
The material that I am going to present to you is information that I hope will enrich your spiritual life, draw you closer to Our Eucharistic Lord and enable you to love Him more and more.
When Our Lord fed the 5,000 hungry people with 5 loaves and 2 fishes, on the following day He told the crowds that had followed Him:
"I am the Bread of Life! Amen, Amen I say unto you: Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood, you shall not have life in you. He that eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood shall have life everlasting and I will raise him up on the last day." (Jn 7:48,54,55)
At this point many of His disciples went back and walked no more with Him. (Jn 6:67) [This is Jn. 6:66 in most Versions] Jesus then turned to the 12 and said "Will you go away also?" (Jn 6:68) And Peter answered Him: "Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life!"(Jn 6:69)
The people of today are no different from the crowds that followed Our Lord 2000 years ago. They just do not believe in this great mystery the Eucharist, which is the crux of our Catholic faith. Today the Blessed Sacrament is the object of scorn, blasphemies, indifferences, outrages, and sacrileges! To strengthen our faith, Our Lord has given and continues to gives us Eucharistic miracles and manifestations.
According to an article in the Immaculata by Martin Herbert: "There are two types of miracles that confirm Our Lord's real presence:
We find the first type of miracle occurring during the blessing of the sick at Lourdes and Fatima. These miracles show Our Lords's presence in the Blessed Sacrament, for as the priest raises the monstrance to bless the crowds, the blind see, the lame walk and sick are restored to health.
On one of the most fantastic cases, that is fully documented, was the case of John Traynor. Medical science had given up on him. He was a paralyzed epileptic because of a head wound received during World War I. He was a mass of sores, shrunken to just skin and bones. He had a useless arm and a gaping hole in his skull. In 1923 he was taken to Lourdes for a miracle. These are his own words:
"The Archbishop of Rheims, carrying the Blessed Sacrament, blessed the two ahead of me, came to me, made the sign of the cross with the monstrance and moved on to the next. He had just passed by, when I realized that a great change had taken place in me. My right arm, which had been dead since 1915 was violently agitated. I burst it's bandages and blessed myself for the first time in years."
He was completely cured and lived a full life till his death on the eve of the Immaculate Conception in 1942. Every year, faithfully, after his cure he returned to Lourdes to give his services to the sick as a volunteer stretch bearer. This particular miracle really means something to me, for I was in Lourdes. The blessing of the sick takes place everyday at 4:00 PM. It's the volunteers that bring the sick in stretchers, wheelchairs and on crutches to the main area in front of the Cathedral. There is a huge area that is roped off for the sick only. There is Benediction and then the Blessed Sacrament is carried in procession among the sick and they are blessed every few feet. The faith experienced in Lourdes is truly one of the greatest graces and blessings that one receives by making a pilgrimage to Lourdes. In one of the smaller churches in Lourdes there is perpetual adoration. Lourdes is very much Eucharist in nature, even though is it a Marian apparition. It shows us that Our Lady's only roll is to take us to her Son Jesus. At Lourdes She has done this most eloquently, because She has literally stepped to the sidelines while Her Son takes first place.
There are many documented cures in Lourdes and in other places, but quoting Franz Worferl, "For those who believe no proof is necessary, for those who do not believe no proof is possible." Franz Worferl went to Lourdes, and while there he received the gift of faith, and went on to write the book "The Song of Bernadette"!
There are other Eucharistic Miracles that have occurred throughout the centuries. They are usually an answer to those who doubt the real presence or a response to some horrible sacrilege that has been committed against the Eucharist.
These have been occurring since the earliest days of the church. The host has either been transformed into flesh, or it has bled or it has been preserved for long periods of time. One of the earliest and most carefully preserved and certainly most carefully recorded and most extensively studied, is the Eucharistic miracle of Lanciano, Italy.
In the 8th century, a monk of the order of St. Basil, was celebrating mass. According to the ancient document..., "he was versed in the sciences of the world but ignorant in_the ways of God."
At the moment of the Consecration, he doubted the transubstantiation, the actual turning of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Suddenly the Sacred Host changed visibly into flesh (except in the center where the appearance of the sacramental species remained intact.) The wine changed into bright red blood, later forming 5 small clots, different in size and form.
The monk who was bewildered at first, through tears of joy, turned to the people and with great joy said:
"O FORTUNATE WITNESSES TO WHOM THE BLESSED GOD, TO CONFOUND MY UNBELIEF HAS WISHED TO REVEAL HIMSELF VISIBLE TO OUR EYES. COME BRETHREN AND MARVEL AT OUR GOD SO CLOSE TO US. BEHOLD THE FLESH AND BLOOD OF OUR MOST BELOVED CHRIST."
Later the monks weighed the five clots of blood. They found that one clot weighed the same as all five together, two as much as three and the smallest as much as the largest. This shows up that Jesus Christ is present, completely in a crumb, or a drop of wine, just as He is present in a complete Host!
The last and most complete verification of the miracle was done in 1970. It was commissioned by the Holy See. Renowned men in the medical profession were chosen. Copies of the report are kept in the archives of the monastery. Others were sent to various church officials, and superiors of the order and still another was delivered in a private audience to his Holiness Pope Paul the 6th. In April of 1972, part of the report appeared in the Vatican Daily.
The Histological studies showed the following facts:
Remember, the studies were done on flesh and blood over 1100 years old! Professor Linoli, who headed the commission, stated that the blood, had it been taken from a cadaver, would have been rapidly altered through spoilage and decay. He further stated that only a hand experience in anatomic dissection could have obtained from a hollow internal organ, the heart, such an expert cut made tangentially, that is round and thick on the outer edges and lessening uniformly in a gradual degree into nothingness in the central area.
After 12 centuries, this host is visible today. It is the same size as the large host that is used today. It is rose colored when viewed behind a light. Today when men are turning away from the love of God, away from the Sacred Heart, to the embarrassment of the intellectuals of the world we have this 1200 year old miracle, that Jesus still thirsts for souls.
In Bolsena, Italy, in 1263, Peter of Prague's weak and questioning faith was confirmed. Upon breaking the Host after the consecration, this priest was shocked to see blood flowing from it onto the corporal, the square piece of linen placed under the chalice and the host during Mass. After trying to conceal the miracle, the priest realized it was futile, and asked to be taken to the Cathedral of Orvieto, where Pope Urban 4th had sought refuge.
In response to this miracle, the Holy Father ordered an immediate investigation. The Holy Father commissioned St. Thomas Aquinas to write the Mass and office of the Body of Christ. One year later the feast known throughout the world today as the feast of CORPUS CHRISTI was initiated. 700 years later, in 1964, on the anniversary of the institution of the Feast of Corpus Christi, Pope Paul 6th flew by helicopter to the cathedral to attend the ceremonies. The first pope ever to use such means of transportation.
The Miracle of Santarem is quite unique. It did not involve a priest doubting his faith, but a woman involved in a horrible sacrilege. The holy card handed to pilgrims who come to venerate the host tells the story:
"At the time there lived in the village of Santarem, Portugal, a poor woman whose life was made miserable by her unfaithful husband. Weary of so much unhappiness she decided to consult a Jewish sorceress for aid. The sorceress promised the woman that all her difficulties would disappear if she would bring her a consecrated host.
"After great hesitation the poor woman decided to commit this sacrilege. After going to confession at the Church of St. Stephen, she proceeded to the altar and upon receiving the Blessed Sacrament, removed It from her mouth and carefully wrapped It up in her veil and put it in her pocket. She then proceeded to leave the church and hurried to the sorceress' cave not noticing the great drops of Blood that fell from her veil. Others who saw the blood inquired why she was bleeding so profusely. Confused and perplexed she ran home and hid the Holy Sacrament in one of her wooden chests.
"Late that night her husband returned home. In the middle of the night they awoke and saw that the house was lit up by mysterious rays of light which penetrated through the chest. The woman confessed her sin to her husband and both of them spent the night upon their knees in adoration. At day break the parish priest was informed and people from far and near rushed to the woman's house to contemplate the Holy Miracle. The Blessed Sacrament was then taken in procession to the church of St. Stephen, where it was placed in a small case of wax.
"Some time later when the Tabernacle was opened for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, another miracle had taken place, the wax case was found broken in pieces and the Holy Sacrament was encased in a beautiful crystal pix. This pyx was placed in a gold plated monstrance and can be seen this day. This took place in the year 1226. The church of St. Stephen is now named the Church of the Miracle. This host is seen by pilgrims going to Fatima, Portugal. It appears to be a thin piece of flesh with delicate streaks of blood running from top to bottom, where a quantity of blood is collected."
Recently a physician who examined the miracle, said that the blood that is coagulated at the bottom appears to be fresh blood of recent clotting. THIS MIRACLE IS OVER 700 YEARS OLD!
Sienna, Italy in the church of St. Francis, is housed another yet different Eucharistic miracle. Since the 13th century the people of this city had a traditional vigil service in honor of the Feast of the Assumption.
On August 14, 1730 most of the population was attending the service in the cathedral. Thieves entered the church of St. Francis, went into the chapel, picked the lock of the tabernacle, and carried away the golden ciborium that contained the consecrated hosts. The following day the theft was discovered. The Archbishop cancelled the festivities planned and ordered public prayers of reparation! While the civil authorities searched for the consecrated hosts and the thieves.
On August 17 at the church of St. Mary in Provenzano, the priest noticed something protruding out of the offering box. He recognized it as the substance of the Host. When the box was opened, in the presence of local priests and the representative of the archbishop, a large number of hosts were found, some in the cobwebs. When compared to the hosts of St. Francis' Church they were found to be identical, bearing the same stamp from the iron that they used to bake their hosts.
The number was 348, plus 6 halves. Due to the dust and debris of the collection box the hosts had to be cleaned. The hosts were brought back to the church of St. Francis in procession. As time went on, to the amazement of the clergy, the hosts did not deteriorate, but remained intact, fresh and pleasant smelling.
On August 14, 1780, 50 years later, the hosts were examined and one was consumed. They found it to be fresh and incorrupt. The number at that time was 230. In 1789 to prove it's authenticity, 10 unconsecrated hosts were placed in a box and sealed. Ten years later the box was opened, the unconsecrated hosts were disfigured and withered. 61 years later, in 1850, the unconsecrated hosts were again examined, 3 were reduced to particles!
In 1914 Pope St. Pius 10th ordered another examination. The results of the tests found that the host contained normal starch content. Microscopic tests indicated that the Hosts had been made of roughly sifted wheat flour that was well preserved. It was agreed that unleavened bread, prepared under sterile conditions and kept in an airtight antiseptically cleaned container could be kept for a long time. But prepared as these Hosts were and due to the activity of microorganisms, could be kept intact for not more than a few years.
The hosts were again investigated in 1922. Again they were found to be completely preserved. On August 5, 1951 a thief stole the container the hosts were in, but this time the hosts were left in a corner of the tabernacle. At that time the count was 223.
Many distinguished visitors have worshipped the hosts. St. John Bosco and Pope John the 23rd while he was the Partriarch of Venice. Pope Pius 10th, Benedict 15th, Pius 11th, Pius the 12th have issued statements of interest and admiration.
Professor Siro Grimaldi, who examined the Hosts in 1914 made this statement:
"THE HOLY PARTICLES OF UNLEAVENED BREAD REPRESENT AN EXAMPLE OF PERFECT PRESERVATION SINGULAR PHENOMENON THAT INVERTS THE NATURAL LAW OF THE CONSERVATION OF ORGANIC_MATERIAL. IT IS A UNIQUE FACT OF THE ANNUALS OF SCIENCE."
In Favernay, France another Eucharistic miracle happened, this time though the host did not bleed or turn into flesh, but the miracle involved a complete disregard for the laws of gravity.
The church, under the Rule of St. Benedict was named Our Lady of the White. In the year 1608, the religious life of the monks who took care of the church had diminished to 6 monks and 2 novices; one named Friar Hudelot, 15 years old.
To strengthen the declining faith of the people at that time due to the Protestant revolt, ceremonies were organized during the year, one being the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in honor of Whitsunday (Pentecost) and the Monday following the feast.
To prepare for this ceremony an altar was arranged before a decorative grille, near the entrance gate of the choir. Great numbers of people attended the services on Whitsunday. At night fall, when the doors to the church were shut, the monks left two oil lamps burning before the Blessed Sacrament left exposed on the altar alone.
On Monday, May 26, when the sacristan opened the church, he found it filled with smoke and flames rising on all sides of the altar. He warned the monks. While the flames were being extinguished, the young monk, Hudelot, to his amazement, discovered the monstrance suspended in the air, slightly inclined toward, but not touching the grille at the back of the altar.
When word got out, people rushed to the church in great crowds. Many knelt in awe and wonder. People kept coming and going all day and night. All were permitted to move around the altar freely to examine the miracle.
Early Tuesday, May 27, neighboring priests came and took turns in unbroken sequence in offering Holy Mass during the time of the miracle. It was at 10:00 O'clock during the consecration of the Mass, the people saw the monstrance move It's angle to a vertical position and slowly descend to the altar below that had built for this very purpose.
On May 31, the archbishop ordered an inquiry. 54 dispositions were collected from monks, priests, peasants, and neighboring villagers. Two months later on July 30, 1608, the archbishop concluded in favor of the miracle.
There are certain aspects of this miracle that are phenomenal!
These articles were inside a crystal tube attached to the ostensorium. When you think about it, besides being suspended for 33 hours, how and why were the Hosts preserved together with the crystal tube containing the perishable articles while the force of the heat from the fire melted a nearby chandelier!
Before the miracle, the people came to the church. They were there physically, but their hearts were not there. The Blessed Sacrament was left alone. After the fire, we see the church packed, Mass being celebrated. Why does it take a miracle from heaven to make us realize we are suppose to get down on our knees to pray to God, who made us, sustains us and loves us. God does not need us, we need God! Yet it takes a miracle to achieve this. We must also realize that the effects of the miracle did not last very long--just look around at the world today!
There are other miracles involving the Eucharistic, all having one point in common, they all involve outrages committed against this sacrament of God's infinite love!
Other places to name a few: Slavings, Moravia in 1120 Excelles near the border of France and Italy in 1453 Poznan, Poland in 1599 Breslau, Germany in 1831 Orthez in the Upper Pyrenees in 1853.
But the challenge to the Real Presence is attributed to St. Anthony of Padua, the Wonder Worker! St. Anthony, a Doctor of the Church, is known as the silver tongued orator. The story goes as follows. There was a certain heretic named Bononillo who was unmoved by St. Anthony's persuasive reasoning as to the real presence. He was as stubborn as the mule standing beside him. Looking at the mule the saint made an offer to the man. He looked at him and said: "Will you believe in the real presence if your mule bows down and adores it's Creator present in the Blessed Sacrament?"
The heretic said: "Yes," but on one condition that for 2 days the mule was not to eat and on the third day it was to be led into the public square. There on one side of the square would be a tempting pile of fresh hay while on the other side would stand St. Anthony with what the heretic contemptuously called the Body of Christ. Anthony agreed but on one condition, if the animal did not kneel before the Blessed Sacrament, his sins alone were to be blamed. When the day arrived there was quite a crowd present. Bononillo arrived with the half-starved mule, very confident that it would go for the hay. He was wrong, for St. Anthony had been imploring God for the past 2 days for the soul of the heretic. With prayer all things are possible! When the mule was turned loose, without a moments hesitation advanced towards Anthony and knelt in an attitude of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. At that the heretic fell on his knees and gave up his heresy.
If we were given the same choice as the mule, if the world was given this choice, how many would choose the forbidden fruit, instead of the bread of life, Jesus Christ! Which would you choose? How many have already chosen the forbidden fruit? When we die and stand before the throne of Almighty God, all we will take with us and it will not be our riches, our possessions, our power, our positions, our titles, or our goods, all we will take with us will be how much we have loved!
Therefore go to Our Lord in the Eucharist and ask Him to teach you to love, to give you love, to fill you with His love, to literally become consumed in His love, so that you will become a mirror that reflects Jesus Christ, thereby becoming another Christ. The saints understood this secret. St. Francis of Assisi was the living image of Christ crucified, as was St. Anthony, St. Theresa of Avila, St. John Vianney, the Cure of Ars, St. Maximillin Kolbe, and of course Padre Pio. Padre Pio was to this unbelieving age, a living reminder of Christ crucified. He was the first priest to bear the wounds of Christ on his body. The faith of today is on the decline and we need this reminder.
The Eucharistic miracles I have talked about today, are given to us to strengthen our weak faith. As St. Thomas the Apostle needed the nail holes and open side of Our Resurrected Lord to confirm his faith, so to it seems this age needs proof too. God loves us so much that even in our weaknesses He helps us! But how many of us know what Love is! Not by our standards but by God's standards? St. Paul in his 1st letter to the Corinthians tells us what is love.
"If I speak with the tongue of men and of angels and have not Love I have become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. And if I should have prophecy and should know all mysteries, and all knowledge and if I should have all faith, so that I could move mountains and have not Love ... I am Nothing! If I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and I should deliver by body to be burned, and have not Love ... It profits me nothing! Love is patience, is kind! Love envies not, deals not perversely, is not puffed up! Love is not ambitious, seeking not her own, is not provoked to anger thinking not evil! Love rejoices not in iniquity but rejoices with the truth: Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things! Love never falls away: whether prophecies shall be made void, or tongues shall cease, or knowledge shall be destroyed! And now there remain faith, hope and love, these three: but the greatest of these is love!"
For those of us who strive to love as God wants us to love, St. Paul goes on further to state:
"Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it been made known to the heart of man what God has in store for those who love Him!"
Why am I speaking so much on Love? Because Our Lord showed us His love when He instituted this Sacrament of Love, thereby becoming a prisoner of Love in the tabernacle where He waits for us day and night!
How do we love God? By going to Him on our knees in church in front of the Blessed Sacrament, to adore and love Him. The Eucharist is Love. Only God could conceive such a treasure, such a gift of Himself ... a living, perpetual proof of His love for us. Go to Him and petition Him, thank Him, adore Him, love Him, especially love Him for those who will not love Him!
What is so important to keep you from daily Mass, daily reception of Communion and daily visits to Our Eucharist Our Lord? What is more important? There is nothing in this world that you are going to take with you when you go to eternity, except your love. Right now, get on your knees and start learning about this God that your are going to spend all of eternity with, this God who made you, this God who keeps you in existence and this God who died for you on the Cross, shedding His last drop of blood.
We have the teachings of the Church. We have these miracles that I have been talking about to confirm the Real Presence. But most important, as the priests here have said in their own presentations, we have Our Lord's own words, "This is my Body. This is my Blood." This should be enough. We should not even need these other things I have told you about. Our Lord said it, and therefore it is true. If He meant it to be a symbol, He would have said this is a symbol.
Volumes have been written by the saints, on the Real Presence, and the love of the Eucharist. But the one quote, that means so much to me and says it all, was said by Saint John Vianney, who is one of my favorite saints. He died in the year 1879, and was canonized in this century. He is the patron of parish priests.
The devil once said to him, that if there were three other priests like him, living in the world at the time that he lived, his kingdom on earth would have been destroyed.
Thatís an awesome statement to make. What do you think his secret was? The next time you go to church, I want you to remember the words of Saint John Vianney, the Cure Ars on the real presence.
"He's there. He is there. Jesus Christ, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity is really there."
All this week you have been hearing about the Mass and the Blessed Sacrament. Now I am going to ask you what is so important to keep you from daily mass and frequent reception of Our Eucharistic Lord? This is a question you have to answer yourself. Right now I am going to briefly talk on something that has not been mentioned yet. The Holy Hour and frequent visits to Our Lord in the Most Holy Sacrament.
When Bishop Sheen was alive he always said that a Holy Hour was the most important thing a person could do everyday, whether you were a lay person, religious or a priest. He made a holy hour everyday of his priestly life. He said that for the priests, the holy hour should not include mass, but with a lay person daily mass could be part of the holy hour. What is keeping us from doing this? You must decide where your priorities are? A priest once said to me, that if you are too busy to spend one hour a day with God, then you are busier than God intends you to be! This is a thought we all need to mediate on.
I am going to give you some food for thought about the holy hour. The following are quotes of St. John Vianney.
"How pleasing to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament is that Hour that we steal from our occupations, from something of no use, to come and pray to Him, to visit Him, to console Him."
"Instead of raising your voice in the newspapers, raise it before the door of the Tabernacle."
"Do you prefer the pleasure of a moment to your God."
"An old peasant went into the church everyday before going to work, and again on his return. 'Pere Chaffangeon, what do you say to our Lord, during your visits?' asked the saint. 'I say nothing to Him, father, I look at Him and He looks at me.' "
"Do you know why our Lord persists in remaining day and night in our churches? ... He stays there so that every time we want to go and see Him, we may be able to find Him."
"Everyone is ready to run after the latest novelty ... But as for Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, He is deserted and forsaken..."
After hearing these quotes, I wonder what in the world would keep anyone from visiting Our Lord? When you die and go into eternity all you will take with you is how much you have loved. That is it. For all eternity you will be with the God you loved while on earth.
Between 1673-75, 300 years ago, Our Lord said the following: "My Divine Heart is so passionately in love with men that it can no longer withhold the flames of that burning love." He continued revealing the pain He felt from the ingratitude of so many people. He said,
"I feel it more deeply than all that I suffered in my passion. If they would only love Me in return, I would think little of all that I had done for them, and would wish, if I could, to do still more. But they meet My longing with coldness and contempt. In return I receive from most men only ingratitude, by their irreverences and sacrileges, and by the coldness and contempt which they show me in the Sacrament of love. But what wounds Me even more deeply is that this is done by souls who are consecrated to Me, and I promise that my Heart will pour out abundantly the power of It's love on those who pay It, or who cause others to pay It honor."
The above quote was taken from the writings of St. Margaret Mary, The Apostle of the Sacred Heart. The Church has not only approved her apparitions, but devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is one of the last recourses our Lord has given to the world today.
In closing I would like to say, we have the Church's teaching and these miracles I have told you about to confirm the real presence, but what is most important, we have Our Lord's own words..."THIS IS MY BODY...THIS IS MY BLOOD!" This should be enough!
Thank you very much for kind attention and may Our Lord by His presence in this most Holy Sacrament, through the intercession of His Holy Mother, bless each and everyone of you here today with the Grace to LOVE! To love as He has loved us!
Muller, Fr. Michael, CSSR, (Tan Books and Publishers, Inc. Rockford, Illinois, 1973)
Cruz, Joan, (Tan Books and Publishers, Inc. Rockford, Illinois.) (Ave Marie Institute, Washington, N.J.)
Eymard, St. Peter Julian, (The Sentinal Press, New York, N.Y.)
Sammaciccia, Bruso, (Sanctuary of Eucharistic Miracle, Lanciano, Italy)