Stories

December 12, 2018

Why A Delay

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In a letter to his father, the English poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote:

“But you do not understand what is involved in asking me to delay and how little good you would get from it. I shall hold as a Catholic what I have long held as an Anglican, that literal truth of the Lord’s words by which I learn that the least fragment of the consecrated elements in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar is the whole Body of Christ born of the Virgin Mary…

“I cannot hold this doctrine confessedly except as a Tractarian (who believed the Anglican Church was one of three braches of one holy and apostolic church founded by Christ) or a Catholic: the Tractarian ground I have seen broken to pieces under my feet. What end then can be served by a delay…”

Source: McHugh, Joan Carter, My Daily Eucharist (Lake Forest, IL, Witness Ministries, 2012), entry for March 5.

December 11, 2018

Which Crown To Choose

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Blessed Catherine Anne Emmerich was 24 years old when, in the spring of 1799, she entered the Jesuit church in Coesfeld, in northwest Germany. She had been trying to enter a religious order since 16, and from her very early years, had certain mystical experiences and was devoted to prayer and reverence for God.

This one day, she was praying before a crucifix when she saw Christ, in the form of a youth, proceed from the tabernacle towards her. Upon reaching her, her held out both his hands. In his right, he held a crown of flowers. In his left, he held a crown of thorns. It was her choice to pick one. She chose the one in his left hand and pressed it upon her head. Catherine was immediately seized by tremendous pains. The apparition then ended.

As she left the church, her companion, noticing the affects of the pain and perhaps more, asked her whether she perceived something on her head. Catherine, however, Catherine denied it. Still, her forehead did begin to swell.

On Holy Thursday and Good Friday of Holy Week, the crown became visible. When she entered the convent in which she worked, blood began to flow through her headdress.

The pain that began at this time never left her until her death some 25 years later.

Source: Shapcote, Emily Mary, Legends of the Blessed Sacrament (London, Burns & Oates) p.132-34.

December 10, 2018

What Were Mary’s Feelings

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The account of the institution of the Eucharist on the night of Holy Thursday makes no mention of Mary. Yet … certainly Mary must have been present at the Eucharistic celebrations of the first generation of Christians, who were devoted to “the breaking of bread” (Acts 2:42).

What must Mary have felt as she heard from the mouth of Peter, John, James and the other Apostles the words spoken at the Last Supper: “This is my body which is given for you” (Lk 22:19)? … For Mary, receiving the Eucharist must have somehow meant welcoming once more into her womb that heart which had beat in unison with hers…

From: Encyclical Letter of His Holiness Pope John Paul II on the Eucharist, April 17, 2003, par. 53, 56.

December 9, 2018

Anna Delafosse

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Anna Delafosse lived in Paris. For twenty years, she suffered from an illness that only progressed and got worse. It got to the point that she could not walk and could not bear to have her eyes open in sunlight. That was her condition on the Feast of Corpus Christi, May 31, 1725.

Knowing that the procession with the Blessed Sacrament was to pass in front of her home, she had some people carry her to her front door. There, when told that the Host was approaching, she fell forward onto her hands, crying out, “Lord, if You will it, You can make me well. I believe that You are the same One who entered with triumph into Jerusalem. Forgive me my sins and I will be healed.”

She even began to crawl after the procession. Some in attendance thought she was either drunk or not of her right mind. Some grew annoyed at the commotion she was making and attempted to drag her out of the way.

But she persisted, and then suddenly, felt the strength to rise. Still unsteady on her feet, she calls out, “Lord, permit me to enter Your temple and I will be healed.” With that, unassisted, she made her way to the parish church, St. Margaret’s, trailing the Eucharist. She reached the church as the Host was being brought in, and upon entering the church itself, feels completely healed.

For an hour and a half, she remained there, in prayer. Then she returned to her home, amid a clamor from friends and neighbors who had gathered. As a public thanksgiving, a Te Deum was sung.

Source: Shapcote, Emily Mary, Legends of the Blessed Sacrament (London, Burns & Oates) p. 124-126.

December 8, 2018

Enough!

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And this hunger and thirst is not satisfied when I have received Him in the sacrament; but grows even greater. When I have this highest God in my possession, when the fullness of the sweetness is really great, I am almost ready to say to Jesus, ‘Enough! I can barely take any more.’ I almost forget that I am in the world. My heart and mind do not desire anything anymore, and for long stretches of time I am not actually capable of desiring other things.

From: Words of Light, Inspiration from the Letters of Padre Pio, compiled by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa (Brewster, MA, Paraclete Press, 2009) p. 146.

December 7, 2018

With Arms Spread Wide

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A man named Jason, husband, father of several young children and a convert to the Catholic faith, recently told the story of a Mass from a few months prior. He had been sitting in a pew near the music section, where the benches and kneelers were not all uniform in length. As knelt on the floor at the time of Communion, his wife commented to him that he was kneeling in a spot where people would have to walk around him a little. Feeling a sense of devotion more than anything else, to the Presence of the Lord before him, he remained without moving.

He then saw something with his mind’s eye, so to speak. He describes seeing in a way that differs from that which we normally experience with our eyes, but one in which an image of what was happening was clearly and dramatically presented to his consciousness.

He saw Christ on the altar itself, the table that had just been used for the consecration, standing with his arms spread wide. The figure was of One welcoming and inviting all to draw near. Then Christ looked directly at Jason, walked all the way to him, and placed His hands on Jason’s shoulders. At that moment, He was suddenly gone.

The whole experience lasted a minute or two.

Later, his wife noticed that he was unusually quiet for the rest of their time in church and during the ride in the car. She asked if something had happened to him at Mass. He did not fail to share it with her, and later still, to a few friends.

December 6, 2018

Communion That Affronts The Taste

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From a November 1, 1963 letter to his son Michael:

“Also I can recommend this as an exercise (alas! only too easy to find opportunity for): make your communion in circumstances that affront your taste. Choose a snuffling or gabbling priest or a proud and vulgar friar; and a church full of the usual bourgeois crowd, ill-behaved children – from those who yell to those products of Catholic schools who the moment the tabernacle is opened sit back and yawn – open necked and dirty youths, women in trousers and often with hair both unkempt and uncovered. Go to communion with them (and pray for them). It will be just the same (or better than that) as a mass said beautifully by a visibly holy man, and shared by a few devout and decorous people. It could not be worse than the mess of the feeding of the Five Thousand – after which our Lord propounded the feeding that was to come.”

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, ed. by Humphrey Carpenter, with Christopher Tolkien (Houghton, Mifflin 1981), from #250, p.337-339.

December 5, 2018

A Union at Mass

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Once a young student saw such a dazzling light that it caused him to change his life, entering the Order of St. Dominic. The light that he saw was that surrounding St. John of the Cross, who had just concluded saying Mass.

Source: Shapcote, Emily Mary, Legends of the Blessed Sacrament (London, Burns & Oates) p. 100.

December 4, 2018

More Than Mary First Received

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St. Peter Julian Eymard, who was known for his devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, used to advise people to approach going to Eucharistic Adoration, “as one would to heaven.”

He also related that:

… in communion we receive the glorified Body of Christ, we receive more than Mary received in the Incarnation. The body Mary carried in Her womb was simply the human body of the Savior; we receive His impassible, celestial Body. Mary carried the Man of Sorrows; we carry the Son of God crowned with glory!
Source: Kaczmarek, Louis, Hidden Treasure, The Riches of the Eucharist (Plattsburgh, N.Y., Trinity Communications, 1990) p. 82.

December 3, 2018

A Wish Granted

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Santarem is a city in the central region of Portugal. It is remembered still to this today as the site of one of the greatest Eucharistic miracles in the history of the Catholic Church. According to an official record of the event commissioned by King Alfonso IV, that event took place in the year 1266.

Only one year earlier, in 1265, a lesser-known event also took place. It seems that two boys from the neighborhood wanted to become what we would refer to today as altar boys. A Dominican priest by the name of Fr. Bernard was given charge over them for this purpose.

Every morning, after Mass, they would retire to a small side chapel to eat a little meal, often some bread and a piece of fruit. They would spend the entire day at the cloister, learning grammar and the Catechism from Fr. Bernard. Thus, they needed to eat something to sustain them for the time to be spent there.

It was also the case that the side chapel contained a depiction of the Blessed Mother, holding the Babe Jesus in her arms. Each day they would greet the Infant as they came in. It came to be that the Infant would often ask them to give Him some of their food, which they proceeded to do, and thus, they would share their meal together.

Eventually, they informed Fr. Bernard of these happenings. He was astonished, but did not doubt they were being truthful. They also had a question for Fr. Bernard. The Child takes some of their food, but never does He bring any food to give them. They inquired, “what shall they do?”

Fr. Bernard’s advice was to ask, the next time this happened, to dine with the Child in His Father’s house. The children did as was suggested. The next day, after having made their request, the Child replied, “You could not give me a greater pleasure than to make such a petition. Yes, I invite you as you desire. Inform your master, that he prepare himself by the Feast of the Ascension. On that day, as you wish it, I will entertain all three.”

The children did as they were told and related all of this to Fr. Bernard. He then prepared himself for what was to come.

On the Feast of the Ascension, after having said Mass, Fr. Bernard prostrated himself on the steps of the altar, signaling to the boys that they should do the same.

After the brothers of the monastery had their dinner, they went into the church as was their custom. There, they saw Fr. Bernard and the two boys, still lying on the steps. They first thought all three slept, but soon discovered that all three were dead; they had passed to their eternal reward in the Father’s house.

The brothers turned to the confessor of Fr. Bernard and asked whether he could shed any light on the passing of all three at the same time, including two so young, without any external injury or apparent cause.

The confessor was aware of the circumstances recounted above, and he boldly told all assembled of these matters.

The bodies of all three, with great ceremony, joy and thanksgiving, were laid in the same grave, and a plaque, bearing the substance of this story, was placed there.

Shapcote, Emily Mary, Legends of the Blessed Sacrament (London, Burns & Oates) p. 43-44, and “The Eucharistic Miracles of the World,” a Vatican international exhibition, as reported by The Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association,

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