Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Corpus Christi and 40 children from the parish will be making their First Holy Communion at the three weekend Masses. One of the things they have learned in their preparation classes is the doctrine of TRANSUBSTANTIATION. At the words of Consecration, “This is My Body … This is the Chalice of My Blood …” the ‘substance’ of the bread and wine change into the ‘substance’ of the true Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of JESUS, but the ‘accidents’ remain: so it still looks like bread and wine, tastes like bread and wine, but the substance is Christ. This can be hard to accept just as it was for the people in Our Lord’s time.
When Our Lord announced the Holy Eucharist, many of His followers left Him because they could not accept what He was saying: “I am the living bread which has come down from Heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever, and the Bread that I shall give is My Flesh for the life of the world … If you do not eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood, you will not have life in you. Anyone who does eat My Flesh and drink My Blood has eternal life, and I shall raise him up on the last day… Anyone who eats this Bread will live for ever” (John 6). So many of them went away as they found this “a hard saying” (John 6:60, 66). But Our Lord let them go. He didn’t correct them and say they had got it wrong and He only meant it symbolically. On the contrary, they had understood Him correctly; that they really would be eating His Divine Flesh and Blood. The fulfilment of this was at the Last Supper when He celebrated the first Mass and commanded His disciples, “Do this in memory of Me.”
Throughout the centuries there have been many Eucharistic miracles to aid people’s faith in Christ’s Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist, even that of priests. And what is really fascinating is that Eucharistic miracles are on the increase in our times. They are happening today more and more frequently. In 2019 a survey was done of American Catholics and it was found that a shocking 70% do not believe in the Real Presence. So Our Lord is trying to tell us something. The particular miracle I would like to tell you about is truly extraordinary and concerns Pope Francis. It happened in Buenos Aires in 1996 when Jorge Bergoglio (Pope Francis) was Archbishop there and it has been approved by the Church.
On 15th August 1996, during the Mass of the Assumption celebrated by Fr Alejandro Pezet, a consecrated Host which fell to the ground as Holy Communion was being distributed was placed in a vessel of water to dissolve. This is the norm when a Host falls and becomes soiled. Once it is dissolved the water is poured reverently into the ground. Then on 26th August, the tabernacle was opened to retrieve the vessel with the fallen Host. It hadn’t dissolved but was showing several reddish stains that became larger each day. It was reported to the diocese, and Bishop Bergoglio decided to have the Host photographed, and the photo taken on 6th September showed that the Host had grown in size and had the appearance of a piece of bloody flesh. The Bishop decided to have the Host scientifically analysed, and it was found that the tissue was from an inflamed heart which meant the person had suffered greatly. Then to clarify even further, the tissue was examined by the world’s greatest expert in cardiac pathology and forensic medicine, Dr Francis Zugibe in New York. He didn’t know the sample came from a consecrated Host. Dr Zugibe also found that it was heart muscle and he confirmed that the patient had suffered greatly. Moreover, when Dr Zugibe discovered the sample was taken from tissue found in 1996 he responded, “How could it be that while I was examining it, the cells of the sample were moving and pulsating?” It was at this point he learned the sample had been taken from a consecrated Host and exclaimed, “I don’t believe it. This will remain an inexplicable mystery to science.” He was greatly moved and told the doctor who brought it to him, “The moment you brought me this sample, the heart was alive.” Did not Our Lord say, “I am the living Bread which has come down from Heaven.”
Fr Paul Gillham, IC