“If Christ did not want to dismiss the Jews without food in the desert for fear that they would collapse on the way, it was to teach us that it is dangerous to try to get to heaven without the Bread of Heaven.” – St. Jerome
When I first remarried, I was often asked, “Why are you still Catholic?” I must say, that my answer has finally matured. Twenty-five years ago, I was in the midst of blending a family. I was raising my children to be Catholic. My new husband was ex-Catholic, non-denominational Christian. I often felt torn between two churches. Partly because I did not want to get into theological battles all the time and partly to blend the family, I often made compromises of which I am rather sad about today. So my, “Leave it be because I am good” Catholic answer was, “Because the Catholic Church needs good people to stay with it and keep it on the right course.”
Yeah, that was the ugly.
I cringe now just thinking of it. Such arrogance on my part, that if I actually really believed what I was saying, it would have been a sin. For this I should be very sorry. The church of Jesus Christ is doing very well with or without me. I could never hold a candle to the saintliness of many of the devote Catholics I know or who have preceded me. It has survived for almost 2,000 years before me and will be around long after me. It will survive until Christ returns.
Sadly, such an argument worked. Those who would have started theological arguments on my reasons for being Catholic had nothing to say to that. And it worked in part because they believed the Catholic Church was filled with demons and anti-Christ’s. Their unwillingness to accept that their Christian Church’s foundation is within the Catholic Church leads them to find fault with everything Catholic. Yet is it because of the Catholic Church the Bible exists today. Their disdain for the mother Church is sad. That is the bad.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the word was God.” (John 1:1)
It took me a long time in prayer and over the years as I matured, I came to realize that all of the Theological reasons that might be leveled against my staying in the Catholic Church, this is where God has lead me and kept me all of these years. This is the good.
“And the word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (John 1:14)
“One does not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4)
Many non-denominational Christians and fundamentalists will tell you that they are superior because they believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible. They do, except when it matters the most. They believe the bible literally until they get to John Chapter 6 where Jesus tells his disciples that his flesh is real food and his blood real drink. Then suddenly, Christ was not speaking literally, he must have meant the bread and wine to symbolically stand for his flesh and blood. EXCEPT – that is not what Jesus says. Jesus said, his flesh was real food and his blood was real drink. In a culture where eating the blood of any animal taboo, to say such a thing was unacceptable. And Jesus does not mince words. He states it several times and uses as crude Hebrew word for “eating” that would be equivalent to “gnaw” as if an animalistic verb was needed to emphasis the reality what he was saying. And what happened? Many of his disciples left him. Even after witnessing all of the miracles, even after leaving behind their families, even after giving up their occupations, just to follow Jesus, they become unwilling to accept this teaching as in their words, “This is just too hard to accept.” Of all the times Jesus spoke in parables, if this were some symbolic story, then they would have no reason to depart. If were just an expression and not a reality, Jesus would have explained it to them so they would not leave him as he was trying to draw all men to himself.
Turning to Peter, he asks, “Will you leave me as well?” Peter says, “Lord, you have the words of eternal life, where would we go?” And exactly like Peter, where would I go? This one incredible doctrine is so special, I will not find in any other Christian church. As the priest elevates the host, I behold the Lamb of God in physical form. I take my God into myself. My poor small mind cannot seem to wrap itself around the enormity of the moment. He is still physically with us after 2,000 years. I can reach out and touch him. What a beautiful intimate moment.
“Jesus took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’ Then he took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.’” (Matthew 26:26-28)
The Catholic Church calls this transition of bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus, Transubstantiation. There have been numerous instances of the consecrated bread bleeding. In the 8th Century, a priest in Lanciano, Italy was celebrating Mass and praying about his lack of faith in the true presence of Jesus in the consecrated bread and wine. Before his very eyes, the bread turned into real flesh and the wine into real blood. As amazing as this may sound, what is even more incredible is that both the bread made flesh and the wine made blood are still preserved to this day. They have never decayed. In 1971, they were forensically tested. The flesh was shown to be human heart tissue and the blood was human blood of type AB+ (interestingly the same blood type found on the Shroud of Turin and the blood type known as the universal recipient.). Both were still fresh as if just removed from the human body. You can still visit this miracle in the Church of San Francesco in Lanciano, Italy. Through the centuries, there have been numerous instances of the host bleeding.
In 1996, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, a consecrated Host was found on the ground. The parish priest decided to place it in a cup of water to allow it to dissolve. Days later it had turned into bloody flesh. Still giving it time to decompose, Cardinal Quarracino and Bishop Jorge Bergoglio (now Pope Francis) placed the host into a tabernacle but when three years later it was still uncorrupted, they had the host forensically tested. Dr. Ricardo Castanon, a Bolivian neurophysiologist took the host to the San Francisco Forensic Institute. He never told them where the flesh had come from. The results were the tissue came from the myocardium of the left ventricle of a human being with the blood type of AB+. Tested again at Columbia University in New York by Dr. Frederick Zugibe, an esteemed cardiologist and forensic pathologist, the samples were said to be from the heart of a human who must have been tortured. Dr. Zugibe was surprised at the samples since they appeared to be pulsating like a living beating heart. Further tests comparing the tissues from the two different Eucharistic Miracles, Buenos Aires and Lanciano, Italy showed the tissue had the exact same DNA even though the time difference between the miracles was 1,200 years.
“And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
It is sad to think that other Christian Churches do not have this understanding. I wonder if the bread that is eaten in churches, where they do not believe it is the actual body of Christ, if it still becomes the actual flesh and blood of Jesus. I suspect it may not be since I think many may say they do not want it that way, as real flesh and blood. No matter what, we should never receive the bread of life without worshipping Jesus first.
Just a few other Eucharistic Miracles.
April 11, 2017 Buenos Aires, Argentina. A group of young people were praying before the Blessed Sacrament at the San Miguel drug rehabilitation home in the Guemes neighborhood, when they noticed a change in the Eucharist. A deep red color began to come from the host.
December 25, 2013 at St. Jacek Parish in Legnica, Poland, a consecrated Host was found on the floor and placed in water to dissolve. Instead it turned into flesh. Similar to occurrence in 2008 in Sokolka, Poland.
October 21, 2006, St. Marin of Tours Parish in Tixtla, Mexico. A host about to be distributed was found with red blood on it. Forensic testing showed it to be human flesh with blood type AB+
December 8, 1991, the Marian Shrine of Finca Betania, in Cua, Venezuela. Just as the priest broke the large host into four pieces, which is normal at Mass, he noticed one of the pieces beginning to bleed. Analysis showed the tissue to be from the human heart with blood type AB+.
October 2, 2016, St. Francis Girls High School, Secunderabad, Telangana, India. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oyiQJs8iug8
The Case of Audrey Santos in Worchester, Massachusetts 1987-2007. Series of Eucharistic Miracles.