Friday, August 31, 2012
C'mon... you know it is just bread and wine!
Dear Rev. Know-it-all,
It is absolutely ridiculous to claim that a peace of bread or a sip of wine can somehow magically be transformed into divine flesh and blood. All that mumbling and waiving about and those incantations and then Catholics expect you to fall to your knees and worship a matzoh cracker. Ridiculous! I chuckle every time I remember that the words “hocus pocus” are a parody of the words of the old Latin Mass, “Hoc est enim corpus meum...” Hocus Pocus it most certainly is! It’s easier to believe in bigfoot and space aliens.
Maria “Ria” List
I am not sure about space aliens and bigfoot, but I have no doubt that bread and wine become the whole Christ, body, blood, soul and divinity. August 15, 1996 a consecrated communion wafer that had been dropped on the floor was stored in a container of water in a tabernacle. (video here) There it started to turn into what appeared to be flesh. A sample of changed host was given to Dr. Ricardo Castanon Gomez who was, I believe, an atheist. He examined it and found it to be human flesh. He sent it to a famous pathologist, Dr. Frederick Zugibe in America. The pathologist determined that it was human myocardial tissue that was somehow still beating, though, he presumed, the person from whom the sample had been taken was long dead. Dr. Zugibe was shocked when he found out that he was looking at what had been a piece of bread, and, needless to say. Dr. Gomez became a Catholic. You can hear Dr. Gomez sharing his story on the web simply by doing a web search for “Buenos Aires Eucharistic Miracle.” There are quite a few similar miracles.
Something like this happened in the 8th Century in Lanciano, Italy. A priest who didn’t believe that bread and wine truly become the flesh and blood of Jesus was celebrating Mass. The Communion wafer suddenly turned into a piece of human flesh in the doubting priest’s hands. That host is preserved to this day in Lanciano. In the 1970's it was examined by a doctor. Just as in the Buenos Aires miracle, it is living tissue from a human heart. Dr. Gomez decided to compare the Buenos Aires tissue with Lanciano sample. They both seem to come from the same person.
I can hear you say “that’s impossible! Have you contacted this Dr. Zugibe or Dr. Gomez? Just because they both say it’s so, doesn’t mean it is so. I bet they are making a lot of money off the scam.!!!” I can hear another skeptic saying, “Unless I see the imprint of the nails in His hands, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25). It’s not much different than saying “Unless I look through the microscope and interview the scientist....”
Sr. Briege McKenna tells a wonderful story about skepticism. She was directing a retreat for priests and one of the retreatant’s fathers was determined to go with his son on the retreat. His doctors advised against it because he needed an amputation because of diabetic gangrene. The old man insisted that he would go on the retreat and have the operation as soon as the retreat was done. Another priest on the retreat had said to Sister Briege, that he was having real doubts about his faith. He told her that if he could just see one obvious miracle, a good case of “now you see it, now you don’t” he would believe.
When the retreatants had finally all arrived, they gathered to pray for the man whose foot was gangrenous, and then retired for the night. Early then next morning. the house woke up to cries of, “I’m healed, I’m healed! It’s a miracle.” The priest who had asked for a visible miracle the night before looked at the restored foot and asked, “Did anyone read the doctor’s report? How sure are we that the foot was actually gangrenous? What kind of tests were run?”
He had asked for a visible miracle. He had received what he asked for. It was not good enough, because he had decided not to believe. It is a true saying that faith makes miracle, miracles don’t make faith. Another fine book on the topic is The Healing Fire of Christ, Reflections on Modern Miracles (ISBN: 9780898708271) by another former atheist, Paul Glynn. The book among other things, talks about another skeptic, the famous Emile Zola who also refused to believe his own eyes and subsequently lied to the world in his book on Lourdes. He was not about to have beliefs shaken by facts that he could not explain.
I cannot convince you that miracles are real. I could not even convince myself, if I wanted to. I believe miracles are real because I trust Jesus of Nazareth. He is the real miracle. His incarnation was and is the most reasonable fact of history. If there is a God, would that God not have visited his creation? This is wonderfully discussed in C.S. Lewis’s book Mere Christianity definitely worth reading.
The part about the Eucharistic miracles that fascinates me is not that they happened, but that the tissue when examined is heart muscle. We Christians believe that God is Love. God is a relationship that the Bible describes as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I used to wonder why was it that the second person of the Trinity came to earth to suffer and die. Why did the Son become Flesh and not the Father? Was the Father afraid? Was He busy at the time? It wasn’t until I was old that I realized, our children are our very hearts. How often have you heard, “I don’t care what you do to me, but touch my kid and I’ll kill you!” That the Father sent His Son means that He loves us more than He loves His own life. He sent us His very Heart, and because I am a Catholic, that divine heart is placed in my unworthy hands every time I receive Holy Communion, though it appears to be only a piece of bread. It is a wonder beyond words, it is more impossible than a perfect poem, as incapable of being examined under a microscope as is true love. Perhaps a story will help.
There was a man who did not believe God existed. He particularly thought that the idea of the Incarnation was absurd. Were God to exist, how and why would he appear in the form of a helpless infant? His wife and children were practicing Catholics and one snowy Sunday, they piled into the car for the short ride into town from their home in the country. The atheist watched his family away drive and thought how pleasant the morning would be with a quiet house, a football game on the television and a log on the fire. As he watched his family drive off to church, he noticed a flock of birds had settled on his snow covered lawn.
He somehow got it into his head that they hadn't managed to fly south for the winter, so he decided to help them out. He figured that if he could get them into the heated garage that now stood empty, he could feed and water them and get them strong enough to make it to Florida. He put his coat and galoshes on over his pajamas and slippers and went out side to shoo them into the garage. Of course, every time they saw him coming they flew away and as soon as he was back in the house they settled on snow again. He tried and tried. He made a trail; of bread crumbs to the garage. He would try to sneak up behind them. He did everything he could think of. Finally he was reduced to sneaking up through the bushes, flapping his coat like a great mother bird and trying to make bird sounds.
He thought, “If only I could speak their language, if only I could become one of them for a moment and tell them not to be afraid!” It was just then that the bells rang out from town announcing the consecration, the moment when of bread and wine become flesh and blood, and he remembered words he'd learned in his own long forgotten communion classes. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son....” He fell, weeping,to his knees in the snow and realized that all the love that ever was, all the power that ever was, all the truth that ever was had appeared in the form of a baby in His mother's arms, and that it now appeared in the form of bread and wine in the church where his wife and children knelt in worship.
God had become one of us to say, "Be not afraid..."
the Rev. Know-it-all