At the mention of the word Guadalupe, many faithful think instantly of Mexico and the place where Our Lady appeared to Juan Diego in 1531. The story for today, however, takes place more than a hundred years later, in faraway Guadalupe, Spain. It was not known afterwards for many more years, as will be explained later.
The Prior of Guadalupe was a priest named Peter, now known as Venerable Peter. He had doubts about the Real Presence in the Eucharist and had been feeling torment over them. One Saturday, he bowed down after the consecration, as he normally did. As he raised his eyes back up, he saw a cloud that enveloped the altar and hid the Blessed Sacrament from him.
This startled him so that he stopped himself in celebrating the Mass. He prayed for forgiveness. Hardly had he begun doing so than the cloud was removed.
He returned himself to his duties in performing the Mass, but now encountered a new obstacle. He noticed that the Sacred Host was no longer lying where it had been, on the corporal. He looked at the chalice and saw that it too was different. It was empty. There was no longer any of the Consecrated Wine within it.
Again, he prayed. The Mass had been offered in honor of Mary. Now, needing help, he asked that She intercede for him in beseeching God. His fervent hope was that the Lord would look past his unworthiness to celebrate the His Son’s Mass. Raising his eyes again, he saw a paten, suspended in the air, brilliant and shining, with rays of lights emanating from it. It illuminated the whole church. The paten slowly descended. As it did, he could see that the Sacred Host had returned, lying upon it. It came to stop over the chalice, in an upright position. Drops of blood fell from it until the chalice was again filled to the same level it had been before. The Host then continued its descent until it came to rest on the corporal.
Once more, he could not continue the Mass and paused, reflecting on what had just occurred. Then he heard a low voice say, “Continue the Mass, and keep as a profound secret that which you have seen, for it was for you alone that God granted this vision, that you may no longer doubt the Real Presence of the Lord Jesus Christ under each of the appearances of bread and wine.”
That secret he kept, until the day he died. He recorded this memorable event in an authenticated document from which this story is drawn.
Obviously, this was something that moved him deeply. It was different from other Masses and other times in his life. It occurred as a surprise and stopped him several times from what he had been doing. It no doubt relieved his torments.
This Lent, let us not have any torments either. Let us not doubt. Let us believe as fully as if this had happened to us, as Venerable Peter wished.
(Adapted from an account in Moments Divine Before the Blessed Sacrament by Rev. Frederick A. Reuter, K.C.B.S.)
The following poem was composed by Letty Medina during adoration:
Mother Mary, Queen of Life,
Blessed by God, the Spirit’s wife,
Full of love and full of joy,
Brought to us the blessed boy,
Christ, the lamb, the sacrifice.
Mother Mary, Queen of Faith,
Called by God, a woman chaste,
Humble Mary, for us pray,
Tis your Son who leads the way,
To the Kingdom, we make haste.
Mother Mary, Queen of Hope,
Helping all the faithful cope,
Through these days so dark and dreary,
When our hearts grow sad and weary,
You lead us to our blessed Pope.
Mother Mary, Queen of Love,
Sent to us from God above,
Mediatrix, full of grace,
Show to us His blessed face,
Implore the Spirit as a dove.
Mother Mary, Queen of Peace,
Prayers for us never cease,
Gentle woman, morning dove,
Filling all our hearts with love,
For your Son, the King of Peace.
Mother Mary, Queen of All,
Begging us to heed His call,
Gently teaching us to pray,
So that we might find our way,
To the babe born in the stall.
It is 1831. A grand procession through the streets of Breslau, Germany is being made, with the Holy Eucharist as its focus. Faithful are prostrating themselves on the ground before it.
Nearby, a number of others are slinging taunts and ridicule at the specter of people worshipping a small piece of dry bread. That night, a number of these people gather in a dining hall. They eat and drink heavily and confirm with one another a plan. They will procure one of these pieces of bread and make sport of it. They try to coax the sexton of the church to assist them, but he refuses, at first. Goaded by his wife, and persuaded by thirty pieces of gold, he relents. The sexton went to the church and returned, placing a Sacred Host on the table before them. They struck at it with clenched fists and more. The frenzy grew.
Then it stopped. A new clamor arose. Those present looked at the table, which was now covered in blood, so much blood, that pieces of the Host were floating on it. So great was this new tumult that police heard it and came to investigate. The news of what happened spread quickly throughout the town that very night.
The next morning, a priest arrived. Amid a solemn procession with prayers and hymns, the table was carried to the church.
Some of the unbelievers converted to the Catholic faith as a result of this episode. The sexton and his wife both hung themselves.
The mayor of the city was named John Meyer. He attested to the events stated above. A record of them is preserved in the archives of the city hall.
As the story given above is read, one might be inclined to doubt the incidents reported. Yet, when the part is reached where both the sexton and his wife hung themselves, pause must assuredly be felt. People do not hang themselves over things that have not happened.
This Lent, let us not doubt. Let us believe. Let us rejoice.
(Adapted from an account in Moments Divine Before the Blessed Sacrament by Rev. Frederick A. Reuter, K.C.B.S.)
Father Mateo Crawley- Boevey was ill. He had received permission to travel from Valparaiso, Chile to Rome. He wanted to see the Pope and then travel to Paray –le-Monial in France, to prepare for an early death. He was 32 years old.
After seeing the Pope, he did indeed travel to Paray-le-Monial, and prayed in the Chapel of the Visitation, where St. Margaret Mary Alacoque had received the apparitions of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He knelt in prayer, with the Lord present in the tabernacle, on the night of August 24, 1907. He states that: “Suddenly, I felt within myself a strange shock. I was struck by a blow of grace, at the same time very strong, yet infinitely gentle. When I arose, I was completely cured.”
This Lent, let us remember the very strong, yet infinitely gentle Love that resides in the Eucharist.
(Adapted from an entry in My Daily Eucharist by Joan Carter McHugh, containing an excerpt from Eucharistic Heart Anthology by Fr. Albert Kretschmer.)
The following story was submitted by Letty:
I want to share a beautiful story about how two individuals in Marytown’s adoration program (Letty Medina & Mary Beth Rogers, Sat. 5 am) were brought together by the Holy Spirit. For many months we had both been going to daily mass. Sometime in July, 2008, I (Letty) noticed Mary Beth at the noon mass at Marytown and a strong thought ran through my head that I needed to meet her because she was going to be my friend. I reflected that my thought was a bit odd because I didn’t know who she was or why I noticed her out of all of the other people at mass but I felt a pull towards her. For about 6 weeks I continued to see her frequently at noon mass and the thought would always return that someday I needed to introduce myself to her. One Sunday evening I saw her at a local grocery store and again I felt an incredible pull towards her and I felt urged to meet her but I was afraid that she would think the meeting strange, so I didn’t. However, I was convinced from that point on that we were supposed to meet and that I would try to introduce myself to her that week at mass.
On Monday I saw her but she sat on the other side of church and she left before I did so we missed each other. On my drive back to work however, I noticed that the woman in the car in front of me looked like her and I knew instantly that she probably worked at the same company I worked at. Sure enough we drove back to work and she even parked in the same large parking lot where I park, although she was quite a walking distance from my parking space. I was amazed and knew that I had to meet her now.
On Tuesday, I went to mass full of anticipation about meeting her but when I looked for her going up to receive the Eucharist, I didn’t see her. I was very disappointed but I felt that I would have to be patient. After mass I stayed and prayed for a few minutes and when I was leaving the church, suddenly she was face to face with me and we walked out of the church at the same time! I finally had the courage to say hello and I said, “Hi, I’ve been wanting to introduce myself to you for quite some time since I see you going to daily mass and I have had a very strong feeling that we are supposed to meet”. I explained the odd chain of events leading up to that moment and how I had noticed that we worked at the same company. Then I said, “Do you mind my asking why you go to daily mass since it’s rather unusual to see other young people going to daily mass these days?” She hesitated only slightly and said, “It’s because of Medjugorje”. Well, I was able to tell her that I too had started going to daily mass after my trip to Medjugorje the previous year. Then she smiled and with tears in her eyes she said, “You’re probably not going to believe me, but I’ve been praying very specifically for the Lord to bring a friend into my life who has a love for Medjugorje – someone I can share my faith with”. Well, we were both deeply touched (goose bumps even) and were immediately aware of God’s hand in our meeting and knew that the Holy Spirit had been prompting me, an extrovert, to introduce myself to her, an introvert, for many weeks.
We immediately began to drive to noon mass together whenever we could and we took a trip to Medjugorje together within six months of meeting each other. We have become the closest of friends, and consider ourselves sisters in Christ. We’ve also started a weekly cenacle prayer group which focuses on praying the rosary from the heart and specifically praying for those who are in despair and hopelessness. We just celebrated 15 years of being weekly adorers at Marytown and have experienced more miracles and graces than we could have ever dreamed of because of God’s great love and generosity! It’s so amazing how God works in each of our lives when we let Him! Thank you Lord for answering Mary Beth’s prayer!
Sister Agnes Sasagawa was born on May 28, 1931. At age 19, she was paralyzed during an appendectomy, when an administration of spinal anesthesia was made improperly. After ten years of going to various hospitals, she was put under the care of a Catholic nurse. He restoration to health led her to become Catholic herself, and then to become a Catholic nun.
Then, another suffering befell her. Sounds started to become muffled in both her ears and, within three months, she was totally deaf.
On May 12, 1973, Sister Agnes arrived at a convent located in a hilltop suburb of Akita, Japan. It had been recently founded by an order called the Handmaids of the Eucharist, who were devoted, in particular, to Eucharistic Adoration.
On June 12, 1973, Sister Agnes entered the chapel in the convent for Eucharistic Adoration. As she opened the door of the tabernacle, a brilliant light shone forth, much whiter and brighter than the sun. She immediately fell to the floor and prayed. After this was over and she left the chapel, she doubted the experience and wondered if she had been hallucinating. The experience with the dazzling white light, however, occurred again on June 13, June 14 and June 28.
On October 2, 1973, she was at Mass. At the moment of consecration, a dazzling light again shone forth. At that same moment, she saw an outline of eight angels, kneeling around the altar, in prayer before the shining Host. Not believing her eyes, she closed them, opened them and rubbed them, but the image remained. The angels stayed before her, paying homage to the Lord, present in the Holy Eucharist.
As Sister Agnes doubted these sights herself, it is normal for us to ask whether they should be believed as well. Should we wish to look deeper, there are other circumstances to aid our inquiry. Sister Agnes received the stigmata in her left hand, a wooden statue of Mary in the chapel bled from the right hand and shed tears and sweat on many occasions over more than six and a half years, Sister Agnes was told in advance of when the pain and bleeding in her left hand would stop, Sister Agnes was cured of her deafness, and she was told in advance of when that would occur.
Some of these occurrences were also subjected to scientific scrutiny. Sister Agnes had been examined at a Red Cross hospital when she was deaf and her condition was pronounced incurable. After she recovered her hearing, she was examined again at the hospital and her cure was confirmed. The blood, sweat and tears from the wooden statue of Mary were analyzed by a non-Christian forensic specialist. He was not told anything about their origin. The test results showed them to be of human substance.
Events such as those above are certainly wondrous, but to what purpose? They may inspire some sense of awe, but this Lent, let them also inspire some sense of the great Love that is behind the Eucharist, the Love that is the reason for the sacrifice of His human body and the same Love that is the reason why He offers His Physical Presence to us still today.
(Based on an account in My Daily Eucharist by Joan Carter McHugh, containing an excerpt from Akita, The Tears and Message of Mary by John M. Haffert, on Those Who Saw Her, by Catherine M. Odell, and on information found at http://www.catholicrevelations.org/PR/akita.htm.)
On EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network), there is a program hosted by Marcus Grodi entitled The Journey Home. In 2006, he did a show about Joseph and Patricia McKeown.
Mr. and Mrs. McKeown live in Southern Ireland. They have four children and have known their share of difficulties in life. Joe’s father was shot and killed when Joe was 12. His mother turned to alcohol in the aftermath. Joe and Patricia’s first child had kidney problems and they made many visits to the doctor and hospital as a result of that. Joe and Patricia were born Catholic, but Joe fell away from the Church. He used to think that when you die, the “lights go out and that’s it.” He would go to church on Christmas and Easter, but no more than that.
In 1990, they became pregnant with their fourth and last child, Connor. He was born three months early. From the beginning, they knew he had bladder problems and learning difficulties. It was not until he was 3 years old until he could first say “momma” and “dada.” In 1998, when he was 7, they learned something else. Tests revealed that he was blind in one eye. The doctor told Patricia that there was no hope for a cure. The eye was detached at the rear and could not be repaired.
Before Connor was born, Patricia had been saying a daily rosary, participating in a prayer group and going to Eucharistic Adoration. After he was born, Joe began doing the rosary with her. Some 2-3 weeks after they received the news on Connor, Patricia was asked to go on a retreat. She did not want to go at first, but decided to anyway, and Connor went with her.
Patricia was able to go to Adoration, but this time, when she went, she knew something like she had not known it before. She knew that Jesus was “alive” in the Eucharist. She felt it so strongly that, when she went outside, she approached people and asked them whether they knew He was “alive,” despite the funny looks she got.
Then Patricia and Connor heard a talk by a man who evidently had some experience with miraculous healings. Patricia succeeded in getting some private time with him. The three of them joined hands and he said a very simple prayer: “The lame may walk and the blind may see, I ask a miracle for this young man.”
The man told them that, in his mind’s eye, he saw a picture of rain falling against a windshield, the windshield wipers passing back and forth and two lights in the distance, one bright and one dim. He instructed them to stay for Mass. Patricia began to protest. The Mass was three hours later and Connor could not sit that long. Nonetheless, they stayed.
At the Mass, when the Host was elevated, she again knew that He was “alive.” Right then, tears began flowing from Connor’s bad eye. Connor told Patricia, “Mommy, my eyes are all squiggly but I can see God Mommy.” At that moment, Connor regained vision in his bad eye.
Patricia then felt an understanding with regard to the vision of the rain in the car. The rain represented the tears, the two lights were Connor’s eyes and the dim one stood for the light that was being brought by God.
This Lent, let this story help us to remember that He is indeed “alive,” here among us, in our day. He is alive in His gift to us, the Blessed Eucharist. If we open our hearts to Him when He is elevated before us, we too can receive a peace that will wipe away tears.
A priest once had a parishioner who turned away from the faith. He was described as “one who became so impious and lawless that he scandalized even those who led bad lives.” This man developed an affliction in his lungs and was going to die. The priest visited him and sought to elicit some turning back toward God before he departed this earth. All the entreaties of the priest were met, however, with insults and blasphemies.
The priest was a good shepherd. He would not let go of his wayward son. So, he turned to a curate and told him to go to Paray-le-Monial and have prayers said for the dying man. Paray-le-Monial is a small village in the Burgundy region of eastern France. It is also the place where, from 1673-1675, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque received the revelations of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The revelations were received while she was in adoration before Him in the Blessed Sacrament, where she spent hours on end, like a marble statue, with the revelations being unknown to those around her. It was here that the priest was sending the curate, to the Chapel of the Visitation, where the revelations occurred. There was a silver heart located there, next to the altar, where prayer petitions could be placed.
The curate left at once. He arrived the following day, along with other pilgrims to the holy place. Prayers were said and communions were offered for man dying many miles away.
The curate then returned to the dying man. He had brought with him a medal of the Sacred Heart. In a surprising turn, the dying man took the medal, attached it to a ribbon and placed it around his neck. He then asked to have his confession heard and insisted that it must be that very day. He confessed his sins, received the sacrament of Extreme Unction and went to the next life thanking the Lord for waiting for him and pardoning him after so much time spent in rejecting His ways.
Is this significant? It is nothing less than the saving of a soul. Is it surprising that the man changed so in his attitude? Other men never make such a change. Is it due in any way to the prayers said at the Chapel of the Visitation, where He was there to hear them in the tabernacle? The priest who related this story certainly thought so.
This Lent, let us try to imagine the infinite Love that resides in the Sacred Heart, such a love that it could forgive, in an instant, a life spent in rejecting it. Next time, you are in a church and see a tabernacle with the red candle burning near it, consider the Love that resides inside, the Love that grants eternal life, the Love that is present in each Eucharist.
(Adapted from an account in in Moments Divine Before the Blessed Sacrament by Rev. Frederick A. Reuter.)
This series of stories, taken from distant persons centuries ago and from ordinary people living today, is meant to demonstrate the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. But what of it? If we come to see Him really there, do we understand what it means? Do we center of the wonder of God being physically present before us and try to contemplate that alone, without understanding the real purpose of the Blessed Sacrament?
In the Catholic Church, there is an approved devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We must understand it to understand the purpose of the Blessed Sacrament. To do that, we turn to Christ Himself.
On June 16, 1675, during the octave of the feast of the Blessed Sacrament, Sister Margaret Mary Alacoque was praying in the Chapel of the Visitation in Paray-le-Monial, France. She was on her knees, offering homage to Her Lord in the tabernacle. The Lord appeared to her. This was the last of three revelations for which she is remembered, the first having occurred almost two years before.
In this visit, the Lord spoke about the ingratitude and irreverence of mankind. He spoke about the “coldness and contempt they have for Me in this sacrament of love.” The sacrament of love to which He was referring was the sacrament in the tabernacle before which she had started her praying, the Blessed Sacrament.
He also spoke about His Sacred Heart, “which has so loved men that it has spared nothing, even to exhausting and consuming itself, in order to satisfy its love.”
To understand the Blessed Sacrament is to understand it is Love.
It is the same Love that showed itself on the Cross. It is the same Love that is celebrated at each Mass, where the sacrifice of the Cross is honored and revered. It is the same Love that gave birth to the Blessed Sacrament at the Last Supper, so that we would remember Him after He died His human death.
He created us out of Love. He came to be among us out of Love. He now stays with us out of Love.
To understand the Blessed Sacrament is to understand it is Love.
Incidentally, Sister Margaret Mary Alacoque became St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. Her fervent wish, before she died, was that all her writings would be burned, so that no trace could be left of her, so that no one would remember her. That wish was not granted and we do remember her. We remember her for her understanding that she was nothing, her knowing that He was everything and her desire to be so united with Him that nothing would be left of her.
Tomorrow, another little story will appear, tied to these events in 1673-75 but occurring many years later, telling another manifestation of His Love.
On February 5, 1876, a Forty Hours Devotion was begun in the church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in Dubna, Poland. When the Blessed Sacrament was exposed, rays of light began emanating from the monstrance. A figure of Christ then appeared in place of the white Host. It remained there for the entire forty hours.
Persons of every form of belief, whether out of devotion or curiousity, came to view this happening and afterwards gave testimony as to what they had seen. The parish priest was summoned before the director of police and questioned. The governor of the province ordered everyone not to speak of it or be imprisoned. The bishop for the diocese directed his people to accede to this order, for fear of the church being closed.
This is not unlike many other times in the history of the Church when it has suffered ridicule and persecution. Yet despite all, it has survived for 2,000 years. This Lent, let us pray that we too may always persevere in our faith and, despite any setbacks or challenges, continue to press forward, ever closer and closer to Him.
(Based on an account found in Moments Divine Before the Blessed Sacrament by Rev. Frederick A. Reuter.)