The Answer to All Our Problems? Jesus and Mary
by Mary Anne Kreitzer
The world faces problems these days on an apocalyptic scale. Wars and terrorist attacks, devastating natural disasters, increasing plagues like AIDS, Zika, Lyme, and antibiotic resistant super-bugs, not to mention the anxiety, stress, and depression that accompany modern living. And, of course, we all have relationship challenges among our families, friends, and acquaintances. I’d like to suggest in this article that the answer to all our challenges is simple – increasing devotion to the Real Presence of our Lord in the Holy Eucharist (and, of course, the rosary) and devotion to Our Lady. But I’m going to focus here on the Eucharist, the bread of angels.
An interviewer once asked Bishop Fulton Sheen who was the greatest influence in his life. Was it a bishop or seminary professor, a cardinal or a nun? What, in fact, inspired him to make the challenging decision to pray a holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament every day of his priestly life? The bishop responded with a story about a little 11-year-old girl in China after the virulently anti-Christian Communists took over the country.
One day, the authorities invaded a local parish and locked the pastor in the church’s coal storage room. They ransacked the church, broke open the tabernacle, and emptied the ciborium on the floor trampling the hosts underfoot. Then they left. A small opening between the coal bin and the church allowed the priest to see what happened next. Every night, a little girl, one of priest’s parishioners, slipped past the guards and stole into the church. She knelt and prayed for a few minutes, then bending over she took a desecrated host on her tongue and made a holy hour of thanksgiving. Afterwards, she stole out of the church again.
This went on for 32 nights, corresponding to the number of hosts in the tabernacle. On the day the child consumed the last host, the soldiers saw her and brutally beat her to death. Sheen said if that little martyr could sacrifice her life to make a holy hour with our Eucharistic Lord every day, he too ought to make a daily holy hour in thanks for so great a gift. And from that moment, Bishop Sheen preached unceasingly urging both priests and laity to make holy hours before the Lord.
Saint Teresa of Calcutta often said the answer to all the world’s problems was perpetual adoration of the Eucharist with every Catholic making a holy hour every week. Such a small sacrifice with such a great return! Jesus, present in the Eucharist, is the remedy for all our ills. If we would only believe and act on our belief we can change the world.
“But why should we believe Jesus is really present?” some may ask. “It’s only a piece of bread, a symbol. What nonsense to think the host can literally be the body and blood of Christ present here on earth. Who can believe such a thing?” Sound familiar? It should. In John’s gospel, chapter six, Christ Himself responded to His disciples’ disbelief saying, “My flesh is real food; my blood is real drink….Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no life in you.” But God never asks us for “blind” faith. Our belief is reasonable and God gives us numerous proofs that what we believe about the Eucharist is true. In addition to the words of our Savior we have many Eucharistic miracles including several modern ones. Let’s examine the recent Eucharistic miracles confirmed by scientists. The witness of scientific evidence proves the truth of our Eucharistic belief, enough to convince the greatest skeptic if he is, in fact, a truth seeker.
My first example occurred in 1996 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Fr. Alejandro Pezet took a consecrated host discarded in the back of the church and placed it in a container of water to allow it to dissolve. About a week later he examined it and found that the “host had become a bloody object.”i
Upon informing the local bishop, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio our current pope, he was told to have the host professionally photographed. The photos taken on September 6th, “clearly show that the host had become a piece of bloody flesh, and had significantly grown in size.”ii Three years later in October 1999 the host was examined by Dr. Frederic Zugiba, “an expert in cardiology and forensic pathology.”iii The doctor did not know the source of the specimen but described it saying:
The analyzed material is a fragment of the heart muscle found in the wall of the left ventricle, close to the valves. This muscle is responsible for the contraction of the heart. The left cardiac ventricle pumps blood to all parts of the body. The heart muscle is in an inflamed state and contains a large number of white blood cells. This indicates that the heart was alive at the time the sample was taken…[W]hite blood cells had penetrated the tissue, which further indicates that the heart had been under severe stress, as if the owner had been beaten severely about the chest.iv
Later, when Dr. Zugiba learned the specimen was three years old he remarked, “If this sample came from a dead person, how could it be that while I was examining it, the cells of the sample were moving and pulsating? If the heart came from someone who died in 1996, how could it still be alive?”
An Australian journalist, Mike Willesee, who was covering the story and witnessed the tests, converted to Catholicism after researching a previous Eucharistic Miracle. He later wrote a book called Reason to Believe.v Willesee, in collaboration with lawyer Ron Tesoriero who also witnessed the tests produced a documentary on the miracle and screened it around Australia. In one city this remarkable event occurred:
The showing at Adelaide drew a crowd of two thousand viewers. During the commentary and question period that followed a visibly moved man stood up announcing that he was blind. Having learned that this was an exceptional film, he had very much wanted to see it. Just before the screening, he prayed fervently to Jesus for the grace to see the film. At once his sight was restored to him, but only for the thirty-minute duration of the film. Upon its conclusion, he again lost the ability to see. He confirmed this by describing in minute detail certain scenes of the film. It was an incredible event that moved those present to the core of their being.vi
But God isn’t finished emphasizing his Real Presence here on earth. In 2008 a similar miracle occurred in Poland at the Church of St. Anthony of Padua in Sokółka. During distribution of Communion Fr. Jacek Ingielewicz retrieved a dropped host and placed it in a silver container filled with water. This time the host was partially transformed into what appeared to be flesh and blood with the flesh still connected to the consecrated host. Again, the local bishop was contacted and took action:
On January 5, 2009, the bishop asked two professors of medicine at the University of Bialystok, Maria Elizabeth Sobaniec-Lotowska and Stanislaw Sulkowski, to conduct an analysis of a fragment of the host….After working separately, the two specialists arrived at the same conclusion – what they had been given came from human heart muscle tissue that was still alive, but in agony….Professor Sobianiec-Lotowska confirmed: “This is living heart muscle tissue.”…Also very intrigued by the way the heart tissue was connected to the consecrated host, she declared that “this extraordinary phenomenon of inter-absorption of the heart muscle tissue with the host, observed under the microscope and also by electron microscopy, proves that no human manipulation of the sample could have taken place.” In fact, the structure of the myocardial fibers and the structure of the bread were so tightly bound that no human intervention could have caused it.vii
A third recent Eucharistic event occurred in Poland on Christmas Day in 2013 at St. Hyacinth Church in Legnica. A consecrated host fell to the floor during distribution and, as the rubrics prescribe, was placed in water. A few days later, red stains appeared on the host. The bishop, Stefan Cichy, established a commission to investigate:
Samples were taken in order to conduct thorough tests by the Department of Forensic Medicine in Szczecin. The final medical statement reported that “in the histopathological image, the fragments were found containing the fragmented parts of the cross striated muscle. It is most similar to the heart muscle.” DNA tests also determined the tissue to be of human origin, and found that it bore signs of distress.
In January 2016, Bishop Kiernikowski presented the matter to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. On April 10, Bishop Zbigniew Kiernikowski of Legnica made public in a Communiqué that a Eucharistic miracle had happened in 2013. In accordance with the Holy See’s recommendations, he ordered parish priest Andrzej Ziombrze “to prepare a suitable place for the Relic so that the faithful could give it the proper adoration.”viii
Mexico also experienced a miracle on October 21, 2006 in a slightly different way. During Communion at Tixtla in the Diocese of Chilpancingo-Chilapa, a nun serving as an extraordinary minister noticed a consecrated host with a red substance that looked like blood. She showed the priest who reserved the host and notified the bishop. The bishop opened an investigation which found that the host was indeed bleeding and that the blood was flowing from the interior of the host:
By analyzing the Host it was observed that it was human blood of type AB and that it corresponded to tissue. Then an analysis was done of phytochemical markers which confirmed that it was live cardiac muscle. No study exists that can maintain alive a cardiac tissue in this situation. Normally after 48 hours the tissue dies, here 3 months passed before the result could be obtained and this is truly unexplainable for science.ix
In all these Eucharistic miracles the blood was also found to be the same type as that from the Shroud of Turin and the Miracle of Lanciano, type AB.
Eucharistic miracles are not new. They have occurred throughout the centures, but as these recent examples illustrate, they seem to be increasing in frequency. In view of the fact that Eucharistic miracles are often associated with disbelief (The priest at Lanciano had doubts about the Real Presence as he celebrated Mass), is it really any surprise that our loving and merciful Lord would offer us these modern proofs of his existence to challenge this age of rampant disbelief?
Remember Christ’s response to the father of a possessed boy who asked, “If out of kindness of your heart you can do anything to help, please do!” “If you can,” Jesus replies and admonishes him for his lack of trust upon which the man responds, “I do believe, help Thou my lack of trust,” and Jesus cures his son. Again, in admonishing the doubting apostle Thomas, Jesus says, “Do not persist in your unbelief, but believe!” Finally to Jairus when the servants tell him not to bother the Master because his daughter died, Jesus encourages him saying, “Fear is useless; what’s needed is faith.” Faith is a catalyst of miracles. If you have the faith of a mustard seed you can move mountains. Unbelief, on the other hand, says St. Thomas Aquinas, “is a sin committed against God Himself, according as He is Himself the First Truth, on which faith is founded…the sin of unbelief is generically more grievous than the sin of schism.” x
Bishop Athanasius Schneider in a recent interview described the crisis in the Church saying it:
…consists in the ever-growing phenomenon that those who don’t fully believe and profess the integrity of the Catholic Faith frequently occupy strategic positions in the life of the Church, such as professors of theology, educators in seminaries, religious superiors, parish priests and even bishops and cardinals. And these people with their defective faith profess themselves as being submitted to the Pope.
The height of confusion and absurdity manifests itself when such semi-heretical clerics accuse those who defend the purity and integrity of the Catholic Faith as being against the Pope – as according to their opinion in some way, they are schismatics.
For simple Catholics in the pew, such a situation of confusion is a real challenge to their faith in the indestructibility of the Church. They have to keep strong the integrity of their faith according to the immutable Catholic truths which were handed down by our forefathers, and which we find in the traditional catechisms and in the works of the Fathers and of the Doctors of the Church. xi
When asked how faithful Catholics should prepare for living in a Church that “while ever spotless, is in complete disarray,” the bishop responded in part:
We have to believe firmly: The Church is neither ours nor the Pope’s The Church is Christ’s, and He alone holds and leads her indefectibly even through the darkest periods of crisis, as our current situation indeed is….
All good children of Mother Church, as courageous soldiers, have to try to free this mother – with spiritual weapons of defending and proclaiming the truth, promoting the traditional liturgy, Eucharistic adoration, the crusade of the Holy Rosary, the battle against sin in one’s private life and striving for holiness.xii
The prescription is always the same: personal holiness and devotion to the Eucharist and the rosary. We are, no doubt, living in the time prophesied by the dream of St. John Bosco showing the barque of Peter attacked by enemies and steering toward the two columns: one with the Holy Eucharist and the words, “Salvation of the Faithful,” the other smaller column holding a statue of the Blessed Mother with the words “Help of Christians.”
In explaining his dream, Don Bosco said, “Only two means are left to save [the Church] amidst so much confusion: Devotion to Mary Most Holy and Frequent Communion, making use of every means and doing our best to practice them and having them practiced every-where and by everybody.” No sensible person can deny that Satan attacks the Church today with forces outside and even from enemies within, but we have the assurance that the gates of hell will never prevail against the Church. It is our duty as Catholics first, to be the battering rams that shatter the gates of hell, freeing sinners enslaved by Satan and second, to be His legions zealous to establish the reign of Christ the King. Viva Cristo Rey!
i Newsletter of St. Joseph de Clairval Abbey, Flavigny-sur-Ozerain, France, March 27, 2016.
v ks. Mieczysław Piotrowski TChr, Eucharistic Miracle in Buenos Aires, Love one Another Magazine, Jan. 7, 2010. Online at http://www.loamagazine.org/nr/the_main_topic/eucharistic_miracle_in_buenos.html
vii St. Joseph de Clairval Abbey.
viii SSPX News and Events, New Eucharistic Miracle in Poland, May 1, 2016. Online at http://www.sspx.org/en/news-events/news/new-eucharistic-miracle-poland
ix The Real Presence, Eucharistic Miracle of Tixtla. Online at http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/mir/english_pdf/Tixtla2.pdf
x St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa, Whether schism is a graver sin than unbelief, Question 39, article 2, Answer to objection 3, http://dhspriory.org/thomas/summa/SS/SS039.html#SSQ39A2THEP1.
xi Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Interview with Rorate Caeli, originally posted February 1, 2016, http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2016/02/exclusive-bishop-athanasius-schneider.html.