Tony Rossi, Director of Communications
Rediscover the Miraculous
It seems like just about every community in the world has undergone some form of quarantine over the past months. It’s an experience of physical and spiritual denial that makes you consider what matters most in life. Some Catholics have been reawakened to a hunger for the Mass, while there has also been concern that time away from church attendance will lead others to stray from the faith.
I think we can all agree that, as we gather again in community in our Church, we should be aiming for things to be better than they were before. A sure way to achieve this is to highlight the importance of the Eucharist. If there’s one thing faithful Catholics missed most during quarantine, it’s the Eucharist. Yet sadly, a poll conducted last year showed that only one third of U.S. Catholics believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. If we want our Church to become stronger than it was before, we need to change that statistic.
So how do we increase faith in the real presence? I believe it is to increase faith in the miraculous, because it takes belief in the miraculous to understand the Eucharist. Stories of the miraculous abound in the Church, and maybe we’re reticent to share those stories because we know that our faith must not depend on miracles. But Christ performed miracles in order to strengthen people’s faith, and stories of miracles can help us to see God’s hand at work in all things and especially in the sacraments.
Eucharistic miracles are some of the most fascinating stories in history, yet they don’t get nearly as much attention as they deserve. Though there are many credible reports of Eucharistic miracles, the Church has only officially recognized five instances due to the rigorous process any claim must undergo.
The oldest officially recognized Eucharistic miracle took place in the 8th century in Lanciano, Italy. A Basilian Monk who was having doubts about the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist was performing the consecration during Mass, when the host turned to living flesh and the wine turned to living blood. The Church of San Francesco in Lanciano now holds the relics from this miracle, displayed in a silver and glass reliquary and proven authentic by scientific studies conducted in the 1970s.
Evidence surrounding the Miracle of Lanciano and the four other officially recognized Eucharistic miracles shows a match to the type of blood found on the Shroud of Turin. I share all of this information not to encourage people’s faith to depend on miracles. Christ did not want that, as he said to Thomas after proving the Resurrection to him, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe” (John 20:29). But this information is there for us in moments of doubt, and we should not hesitate to share stories of miracles with others when they doubt.
Christ wants us to believe so completely in His transcendent power that He invites us to a regular Eucharistic celebration without material proof of the real presence. We might look upon it as a profound spiritual exercise in which we stretch every aspect of our being, from our intellect to our ability to think creatively. Christ wants us to discover the faith of one who has not seen. When we discover that faith, we prepare ourselves to recognize God’s miraculous hand at work in the world and in all aspects of our lives.
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