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By F. K. Bartels

10/5/2011 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

With the eyes of faith we see beyond the world into the realm of God

St. Cyril of Jerusalem wrote: "Do not see in the bread and wine merely natural elements, because the Lord has expressly said that they are his body and his blood: faith assures you of this, though your senses suggest otherwise."

Local priest carries the consecrated host in a procession before about 1000 of the Catholic faithful in Poland

Local priest carries the consecrated host in a procession before about 1000 of the Catholic faithful in Poland

Article Highlights

By F. K. Bartels

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

10/5/2011 (2 years ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: eucharistic miracle, Sokolka Poland, dark spot on host, dark spot on Eucharist, F. K. Bartels


WARSAW, POLAND (Catholic Online) -- Catholics in Poland gathered on Sunday to celebrate what is believed to be a possible eucharistic miracle which began as a result of a dropped consecrated host in 2008.

Three years ago during the Liturgy of the Mass in the eastern Polish town of Sokolka, a consecrated host was accidentally dropped on the floor by the priest who was distributing Holy Communion to the faithful. The consecrated host was then carefully placed in water in order to allow it to dissolve. However, several days later a nun discovered that the host remained undissolved. On her further inspection of the consecrated host, she noticed a distinctive red mark on it.

According to an Associated Press report, "Two medical doctors determined that the spot was heart muscle tissue, church officials have said."

Archbishop Edward Ozorowski reminded the faithful present during Mass that, in history, the "substance of Christ's body or blood has become available to the human senses, and this also happened in Sokolka."

The Eucharist was displayed in a reliquary during a procession by the town priest while about 1000 of the faithful were present.

While the Church has not yet declared this apparent miracle in Sokolka to be authentic, eucharistic miracles in which the body or blood of Christ becomes perceptible to the human senses have occurred at various points in history, always as a divine call from heaven in order to provoke an increase in faith in Christ's own words: "This is my body" (Luke 22:19).

One of the most well known eucharistic miracles which has Church approval occurred in the eighth century at the Church of St. Legontian. As a Basilian monk, who had doubts about the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, spoke the words of consecration during the celebration of the Liturgy of the Mass, the host miraculously changed into human flesh and the consecrated wine into human blood.

The miracle was witnessed by the congregation. Later, the blood coagulated, but the flesh remained the same. The relics were placed in the cathedral and can be observed even today -- over 1200 years later.

In May of 2005, Dr. Edoardo Linoli said that, some years ago as he analyzed the relics of the eucharistic miracle of Lanciano, "I had in my hand the endocardium. Therefore, there is no doubt at all that it is cardiac tissue." Dr. Linoli is a professor of anatomy, pathological histology, chemistry, clinical microscopy, and is the former head of the Laboratory of Pathological Anatomy at the hospital of Arezzo.

We might ask, why do these miracles not happen more often? The answer is simple: while faith is a gift of supernatural grace, it is realized and completed through the free assent of the human will. God does not force faith on his children; rather, each of us, like little children, must abandon ourselves in faith to God. The question is, will we respond to the free gift of God's grace?

Further, belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist should be a rather simple matter for every Christian, since this teaching of the Catholic Church dates to our Savior's divine words of institution at the Last Supper. It is important to remember that Christ did not say the bread "contains my body" or "looks like my body." On the contrary, Jesus said "This is my body." The Risen Lord is truly present in the validly consecrated bread and wine -- in the Eucharist.

So, while the eucharistic miracle of Lanciano, Italy is important, while we rejoice at what has occurred at Sokolka, let us remember we experience an even greater miracle each Sunday as we receive the body, blood, soul and divinity of the Risen Lord in the Eucharist. There are no words for this act of supreme love which our Savior offers, and which sweeps us up into the very life of the Holy Trinity.

Also, let us not forget that by virtue of the accidents (appearances) of bread and wine remaining perceptible to the human senses after the words of consecration, we too witness a miracle. Although the substance of the consecrated species has changed into the true body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ, we yet continue to see and taste what appears to be bread and wine. This is in itself a miracle. God sustains the appearance of what was before yet exists no longer in substance. Why? While there are several possible reasons, one is that this allows God's children to freely make an act of faith in adoration and love.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem wrote: "Do not see in the bread and wine merely natural elements, because the Lord has expressly said that they are his body and his blood: faith assures you of this, though your senses suggest otherwise."

"At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood. This he did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved Spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet 'in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us'" -- Sacrosanctum concilium 47

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F. K. Bartels is a Catholic writer who knows his Catholic Faith is one of the greatest gifts a man could ever receive. He is a contributing writer for Catholic Online. Visit him also at catholicpathways.com

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