His Presence – Little Stories
One of the most central and, at the same time, most controversial of all Catholic beliefs is the Eucharist, the belief that Jesus Christ himself comes to those gathered at the Mass. If we are humble enough, we believe Him when he said: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever.” (John 6:51) And yet, as many of his disciples who were listening said, “this saying is hard; who can accept it?” (John 6:60).
Perhaps if we open ourselves up and put aside our own judgments, we can hear what we are supposed to hear. In the space that follows, a few stories appear that may contain messages we can hear.
Madame Marie Bire was visiting Lourdes with her daughter. She had been suffering from dizziness and headaches before she was also struck with blindness. Doctors had determined that her optic nerve had withered and there was no medical cure. It was August 5, 1908. She received Holy Communion that morning. At 10:15 a.m., the procession carrying the Blessed Sacrament passed by her. As it did, she stood up, declared she could see a statue of the Blessed Virgin and then fell back into her wheelchair.
She was taken to the Medical Bureau at Lourdes where she was seen by several doctors. Among them was Dr. Henri Lainey, an oculist from Rouen. He examined her eyes through an opthalmoscope. In both of them, he found a “white pearly papilla,” devoid of all color. Essentially, she had “dead eyes.” Their physiological condition had not improved. Sight for her was not possible. Yet it was.
The next day, she was examined again, this time by ten doctors. The conclusion was the same – they had no explanation. The optic nerve was still withered. She still should not be able to see.
A month after her return home, three eye specialists examined her once more. The results this time were even more phenomenal. All traces of damage to the optic nerve were gone. What was not possible had occurred. Optic nerves that had lost all signs of life now had them again.
Twenty years later, Dr. Auguste Vallet, head of the Medical Bureau, visited her. She still had her eyesight.
Her case is one of a universally acknowledged miracle. It happened when the Blessed Sacrament came near. It happened when Jesus Himself came near. It happened when His Body, sacrificed for us on the Cross and given to us still in the Eucharist, came near.
This Lent, that sacrifice and that gift are to be remembered. There is both pain and joy in them. The pain is terrible. The joy is without limit.
The Rope Bridge
He stared across a dark chasm. There was a rope ladder up high and a ladder leading to it. At the end of the rope ladder was heaven. He could see, however, that there were gaps and breaks in both the ladder and the bridge. From inside, he knew he had put them there. He also knew he could never reach the end of the rope bridge on his own. There was only one way. Heaven would have to reach down to him. The mercy of Jesus alone could take him where he so wanted to go. As he realized this, suddenly, he was back in adoration before the Eucharist. He was already where he had desired to be, with Jesus Himself.
Sister Marie Marguerite
On January 22, 1937, Sister Marie Marguerite attended Mass in Rennes, France. It was the last day of a novena the sisters in her convent had begun to Our Lady of Lourdes. They had begun the novena for Sister Marie. She had not been well. In fact, she had not been well for years. In 1924, she had begun to suffer from a renal disease, pyelo-nephritis. Later, she also experienced a number of “cardiac crises,” anginal in type, as well as steady deterioration from kidney disease. In 1936, the complications from her illnesses included generalised phlyctenular oedema of both lower limbs, more and more frequent cardiac crises, with dyspnea and facial neuralgia. At the beginning of 1937, her death was feared.
But during the Mass, at the elevation of the Sacred Host, she suddenly had a great feeling of relief. The bandages on her legs suddenly became too large for them and fell to the floor. The next morning she resumed her duties at a turn-table in the convent, something she had not done for eight years. Her doctor had no explanation for her dramatic change in condition. He continued to visit her until 1945. That year, a panel of three doctors met and confirmed that her cure was not due to any natural phenomenon.
It is hard for many to believe that God himself is hidden behind the veil of a white host. After the events of January 22, 1937, for Sister Marie Marguerite and the sisters of her convent, it was not so hard.
One Last Eucharist
From early morning, on October 16, 1690, Sister Margaret Mary Alacoque had asked for Holy Viaticum, the solace given to a dying person of being able to make a final confession and then receive the Blessed Sacrament. The attending physician, however, had assured the Mother Superior that there was no reason for concern. Sister Margaret Mary had a slight fever and nothing more. She was only 43 and in good health. Having been refused her initial request, Sister Margaget Mary asked for Holy Eucharist to be brought to her. When it was, as He was entering the room, she flung open her arms and thanked Him for coming.
The next morning, she suffered a few fainting spells. Again, she asked for Holy Viaticum. Again, the treating physician declared that there was no need and again her request was declined. When the physician left, she turned to Sister de Farges who was next to her and said: “Happily, I foresaw that. I doubted whether they would believe me so ill, and so I communicated (received Communion) yesterday for this intention.”
At 7:00 p.m. that evening, Sister Margaret Mary said to Sister de Farges, “it is time.” A priest was brought in and the ceremony of Extreme Unction was begun. She raised herself in bed, and two sisters, Sister Peronne-Rosalie-Verchere and Sister de Farges, hurried to support her by the arms. As she was being anointed with holy oil, Sister Margaret Mary’s spirit departed to be with her heavenly Lord. It was only later that Sister Peronne-Rosalie-Verchere and Sister de Farges recalled that earlier that year, Sister Margaret Mary had predicted she would die in their arms.
Sister Margaret Mary Alacoque is a revered saint. It was to her that, in three grand revelations, Jesus entrusted the task of beginning, throughout the whole Church, a devotion to His Sacred Heart.
A Cold Day and a Private Warmth
The following link takes you to a story, being told by a woman for the first time, more than 70 years after it happened. (Click here).
A Boy and a Priest
After celebrating many Masses without difficulty, a parish priest began to have severe doubts about the Real Presence in the Eucharist and the propriety of his even being ordained a priest. This became a source of great trouble for him, and celebrating Mass a torment. As he was in the midst of this struggle, he performed a midnight Mass on Christmas, 1875, in Valencia, Spain.
At the point when he raised the Host on high, a cry rang out from the back of the church. It came from a five-year-old boy who said: “O Mama, what a lovely child! See there, Mama!” He is up on the altar.” His embarrassed mother sought to quiet him. He then whispered to her, “Such a beautiful child, Mama, just like the little baby over there in the crib.”
At dawn, a second Christmas Mass was said by the same priest. Once more at the elevation of the Host, the little boy cried: “Oh, there he is again, Mama, don’t you see? The priest is holding him up in his hands and now he has laid him on the altar!” His mother again told him to be quiet.
Later that day, a third Christmas Mass was said for the parish. The same priest celebrated it. The child and his mother were once more in attendance. Once more, the earlier scene was replayed.
Afterwards, the priest requested that the little boy attend more Masses. The same occurrence continued each time. The priest still questioned, however, whether the images proclaimed by the boy were real. He asked the boy to come again on a particular day. At that Mass, the priest took three particular hosts with him onto the altar. He consecrated two of them. The third he did not. After the Mass, the priest had the boy come up and showed them the three hosts. He asked whether the boy saw the Infant Jesus in either of the two that had been consecrated. The boy said that he did and that the Holy Child was there, stretching out His hands. The priest then asked the boy about the third host, but the boy said he saw nothing. The priest queried him again and asked if he was sure. The boy answered, “Oh yes, Father, there is nothing there.”
(Adapted from Moments Divine Before the Blessed Sacrament, by Rev. Frederick A. Reuter, K.C.B.S., Reading No. 17)
Once passing through a strange town, she stopped suddenly and cried out, “The dear Saviour is here!” The building before which she stopped was not a church, but upon inquiry it was found to be a house chapel in which the Blessed Sacrament was reserved.
(Taken from an entry in My Daily Eucharist, by Joan Carter McHugh, containing an excerpt from The Story of Therese Neumann by Albert Paul Schimberg)
The Year Before Fatima
To start the New Year after a three-week Christmas hiatus, let us go back to Fatima, almost 100 years ago. For this story, we depend on the credibility of Lucia Abbora, later Sister Maria das Dores. Her credibility has previously been vindicated in a way which that of almost no one else has. At ten years of age, she told those interested that on a certain date in October of 1917, they would see a miracle. What transpired on that day was a ten-minute long spectacle of the sun, seen as far as forty kilometers away and witnessed by no less than 70,000 people. In Portugal’s most influential newspaper at the time, an anti-religious publication called “O Seculo,” the event was reported as being “incredible if one had not been a witness to it.” Prior to that, her own mother had been dubious of the things Lucia had been saying. Afterwards, she too believed.
The story that follows here is not the main story of Fatima. It occurred in the year before the spectacle of the sun of the other famous apparitions of 1917. In September or October of 1916, as best as the then girl of nine could later relate, she and her two cousins, Francisco and Jacinta, saw an angel. It was the third time they had seen this angel. He appeared this final time with a Chalice in one hand, and over it in the other, a Host. He prayed to God, referring to the Host and the contents of the Chalice as the “most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ.” They children could see drops of blood pouring from the Host into the Chalice, both of which the angel described as being made present in churches all over the earth “in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifference” which offend God. Lucia was given the Eucharist by the angel and she later said she could feel the contact of the Host. Jacinta and Francisco both drank from the Chalice. After more prayer, the angel faded. The children all said later that that they felt God “within” them.
The Catholic Church teaches that bread and wine are transformed into His Body and Blood. It believes He does this out of love for us. The story which appears above is nothing if not an act of love. One can choose not to believe it, however, just as others chose not to believe Lucia once before.
It Lasted but a Second, For Years
It was a quiet Sunday in the small church. No altar boys came that morning and the reader was asked to do double duty. He had never been an altar boy as a youth and did not know what to do. Still, he was asked to help out. He knew it was a little childish, but he could not help feeling glad that he would finally get to ring the altar bells. Ringing the bells was something he had always wanted to do as a boy.
At the appropriate time, he knelt next to the altar. He did not regard the changing of the bread and wine as anything more than symbolic, but found himself saying, as if he did not actually believe it himself, “so this is where it happens.” As he looked at the priest, he felt an electric airiness, at being so close to him and what he was doing. Then, he had an odd sensation, as if there was something wide, something powerful, coming down. His knees buckled. And then it was gone. It lasted but a second. He immediately thought he must have imagined it. It could not have been anything more than that. And so, comfortable with that thought, he put it out of his mind, for years.
- Worcester, Massachusetts
He Heals Me From The Inside
In the words of Mary Ann Cortes, “For seventeen years, I was in and out of every mental hospital in the region of New Orleans, Louisiana. I was diagnosed as manic depressive and given almost every treatment available to psychiatric patients. The doctors gave up hope of my recovering my mental health, and doomed me to a life of mood-altering drugs. When I went to bed at night, I would pray that I would die in my sleep, I was so afraid of waking up to another day of terror.”
“After I was baptized in the Holy Spirit and began to attend healing Masses, I became mentally, emotionally and physically well. Today, I am a new person in Christ. I’m not afraid of the morning anymore. In each Mass, I unite all that I am with His sacrifice … Jesus Himself enters into me and heals me from the inside.”
(Adapted from an entry in My Daily Eucharist, by Joan Carter McHugh, containing an excerpt from Healing Through the Mass, by Fr. Robert DeGrandis, SSJ.)
Perhaps the most well-known of Eucharistic miracles occurred in Lanciano, Italy about the year 700. A certain priest was subject to recurring doubts about the Transubstantiation, the changing of the bread and water in to the body and blood of Christ. One particular day, as this priest was saying Mass, immediately after having spoken the words of Consecration, the host was suddenly transformed into a circle of flesh and the wine was visibly changed to blood.
Awestruck, the priest announced to the congregation the wondrous event to which he had just been a witness. The people in the church rushed to the altar, saw for themselves, and then quickly went out and told the people of the town.
The flesh and the blood, which congealed into five pellets, were preserved in a reliquary. In 1970, an extensive scientific investigation was conducted. It was performed by Dr. Odoardo Linoli, university professor-at-large in anatomy and pathological histology, and in chemistry and clinical microscopy, as well as by Dr. Ruggero Bertelli, professor emeritus of normal human anatomy at the University of Siena.
They reported that the vessel containing the relics was not hermetically sealed. The flesh remained intact, although it had no trace of any preservative agents. It was found to be striated muscular tissue from the myocardium (heart wall). The blood, which had coagulated into pellets years before, was human. Both the flesh and the blood were of the same blood type. While there would normally have been rapid decay from exposure to atmospheric elements, in this case, that was not true.
The relics can still be seen today in the Church of St. Francis, at Lanciano.
The Eucharist is the continuation of Christ’s incarnation on earth. The mystery of the Eucharist gives us the joy of having Christmas everyday. When we come to the Blessed Sacrament, we come to Bethlehem, a name which means “house of bread.” Jesus chose to be born in Bethlehem because He would dwell with us forever as “The Living Bread” come down from heaven.
(Taken from an entry in The Daily Eucharist, by Joan Carter McHugh, containing an excerpt from Rosary Meditations from Mother Teresa of Calcutta, by Fr. Martin Lucia, MSS.)
The Lights that Filled a Church During Communion
Anka Blazovic had been active in the Communist Party since her youth. She had been educated in atheistic beliefs and taught to have contempt for the Catholic Church. Some years later, after securing a job as a tour guide, she was informed that she was to take a group of pilgrims to Medjugorje, in Bosnia-Herzegovina. To prepare herself, she went there early, alone. For the first time in her life, she entered a Catholic church, St. James, a focal point of Medjugorje. She arrived during the time that Communion was being distributed.
She knew nothing of the Mass or what people were doing as they went forward to receive the Eucharist. Suddenly, she noticed something extraordinary. As the faithful returned to their pews, they were filled with a brilliant light that seemed to illuminate the whole church.
Anka understood that she had been given a special grace. It changed her life and she became a follower of this Jesus she did not know.
“I Know You Are Really Here – Heal Me If You Want”
In Sydney Australia, Sr. Breige McKenna was at a speaking engagement. A woman approached her and asked that Sr. McKenna pray with her. The woman had stomach cancer. The tumor had grown to an inoperable size and the woman suffered from great swelling in the area. Sr. McKenna said she would pray with the woman, but also counseled her to go to Mass that afternoon and ask Jesus to heal her.
That night, when Sr. McKenna was attending a rally, the woman came running to her. “Sister, it happened, it happened! … Look at me. I came to you this morning. I went to Mass as you said. When I was walking up to communion, I said to myself, ‘In a few minutes, I am going to meet Jesus. I’m going to take him in my hand and I will ask Him for His help.’”
While she was a Catholic who received communion often, this time she looked at the Host and said, “I know you are really here. Today when you come into me, take away this fear. Heal me if you want, but please do something for me.”
She then told Sr. McKenna, “I had no sooner put the Host on my tongue and swallowed it than I felt as if something was burning my throat and down into my stomach. I looked down at my stomach and the growth was gone.”
The woman had been healed.
(Adapted slightly from an entry in Our Daily Eucharist by Joan Carter McHugh, containing an excerpt from Miracles Do Happen, by Sr. Breige McKenna)
Stich, West Germany, 1970
At 8:00 pm., on June 9, 1970, a visiting priest from Switzerland said a Latin Mass, according to the Roman Missal, in a small hamlet called Stich, in West Germany. Shortly after the Consecration, the priest happened to look down at the altar, and noticed a small red spot on the corporal that lay next to the chalice. It quickly grew to about the size of a dime. Upon raising the chalice, he noticed another spot. Thinking that the chalice must be leaking, he ran his hand under it, but found the bottom to be completely dry.
After the Mass, the priest checked the cloth that lay across the entire altar and another cloth that lay under the corporal. These other cloths showed no signs of staining. No explanation was apparent that could explain the staining. The matter was then reported to the parish priest. After the stains were photographed, the corporal was sent to the Polytechnical Institute at the University of Zurich. There the stains were examined by the Director of the Chemical Laboratory, the Chief of the Blood Control Laboratory and the Chief of the Laboratory for the Analysis of Hemorrhage and Coagulation. The specialists had been told nothing as to the cause of the stains or where they occurred. Their report stated that the stains were caused by human blood. One of them stated that, in his judgment, the blood clearly came from a man in agony.
A little more than a month later, the visiting Swiss priest was again scheduled to say a Latin Mass in the same chapel. That day was the 400th anniversary of the issuance of Quo Primum, a Papal bull issued by St. Pius V, ordering Mass around the world to be said according to the Roman Missal. Before beginning this Mass, the priest checked the altar, the altar cloths, the corporal and the chalice to be sure all were clean and sound. Again, shortly after the consecration, several stains appeared. Upon first noticing them, the priest motioned to the sacristan, who came over and observed them. At the end of the Mass, the priest informed the congregation of what had occurred. Many came up and viewed the stains, which were four in number. They ranged in size from that of priest’s host, to a normal sized host and to smaller sizes. The image of a cross could be seen on each of them.
Again, scientific tests were performed, this time at the Municipal Hospital of Rosenheim. Again, the results were that the stains were of human blood.
Ignatius the Martyr
It is thought by many that the founders of the early Church did not believe in the Real Presence and that it was not until centuries later that the Church first constructed this doctrine. There are many examples showing the opposite to be the case. One such example is Ignatius the Martyr. He was a disciple of the Apostles and heard accounts and teachings directly from them. He was second in succession to Peter as bishop of Antioch, Peter’s first church. He is the first person known to have used the word “catholic” in reference to the Church and thus either gave or contributed to the name it bears today.
On December 20, 107, he entered the Coliseum in Rome. He had been condemned by Trajan to be devoured by wild beasts there. He went, willingly, exhorting the Christians in Rome to make no effort to save him. On his journey there, he had written them a letter. Part of it said: “I have no delight in corruptible food, nor in the pleasures of this life. I desire the bread of God, the heavenly bread, the bread of life, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who became afterwards of the seed of David and Abraham; and I desire the drink of God, namely His blood, which is incorruptible love and eternal life.” In this same letter, he also wrote: “I am the wheat of God, and let me be ground by the teeth of the wild beasts, that I may be found the pure bread of Christ.” Here, he expresses the essence of the Eucharist, the “Communion” with Christ. By His greatest of gifts, we are allowed a closer union with Him. He humbles Himself to be part of us and we, if humble ourselves to Him, can be part of His one, great mystical body.
In the late 9th century, battles were taking place between the Saxons, led by a man named Widikend, and the French, led by Charlemagne. Widikend was a pagan, but was curious about the Christians. Once, he disguised himself and entered Charlemagne’s camp. That day happened to be Easter. He watched as the priest said the Mass. In each Host, to his great amazement, he saw an infant, shining with light. He also saw that it entered some mouths with joy, but entered others only with difficulty. Widikend later became Christian and caused all his subjects to do likewise.
The Miracle of Morrovalle, Italy
On April 16, 1560, the third Sunday after Easter, at 2:00 in the morning, the fire bell for the village of Morrovalle was ringing loudly. Through the windows of the Church of St. Francis, light could be seen flashing. The Church and the Blessed Sacrament within it were in danger of being consumed by the flames raging inside.
A desperate effort was made to put out the blaze, but to no avail. The fire continued for seven hours before it burned itself out. The whole church was reduced to ashes. Inspecting the damage, Padre Girolamo, Padre Battista and Friar Illuminato were inspecting the area that had been the high altar. While lifting some pieces of burned wood and broken marble, amid some ashes and small stones, the men observed a pure white Host. The tabernacle in which it had been housed was totally destroyed. The Host itself lay on a scorched corporal, which in turn lay on a badly burned linen cloth.
At the sight of the pristine Host, the three men fell to their knees in adoration. Many others at the scene came, saw and adored.The bishop provided a report to Pope Pius IV, who then ordered an immediate investigation. Five months after the event, the Pope issued an official decree, verifying the trustworthiness of the witnesses and declaring the miracle to be authentic.
Eucharist in the Prison Camp
Sometimes, I think that those who have never been deprived of an opportunity to say or hear Mass do not really appreciate what a treasure the Mass is. I know, in any event, what it came to mean to me and the other priests I met in the Soviet Union; I know the sacrifices we made and the risks we ran in order just to have a chance to say or hear Mass. When we were constantly hungry in the camps, when the food we got each day was just barely enough to keep us going, I have seen priests pass up breakfast and work at hard labor on an empty stomach until noon in order to keep the Eucharistic fast, because the noon break at the work site was the time we could best get together for a hidden Mass. I did that often myself … during the long arctic summer, when the work days were the longest and our hours of sleep were at a minimum, I have seen priests and prisoners deprive their bodies of needed sleep in order to get up before the rising bell for a secret Mass in quiet barracks … In some ways we led a catacomb existence with our Masses. We would be severely punished if we were discovered saying Mass and there were always informers. But the Mass to us was always worth the danger … we would do almost anything to say or attend a Mass.
(Taken from an entry in Our Daily Eucharist by Joan Carter McHugh, containing an excerpt from He Leadeth Me, by Walter J. Ciszek, S.J.)
Peace Through Adoration
A story of peace found through being in His Presence and a man that was able to meet one of life’s toughest challenges, the death of a loved one.
An Inspired Change upon His Arrival
Fr. Mateo Crawley-Boevey was celebrating Mass in Europe one day. A man was there who was acting in a very scandalous manner. Fr. Crawley-Boevey describes it as “truly satanic.” However, at the consecration of the Host, the man fell to his knees, trembling and staring at the altar.
After the Mass was over, the man found Fr. Crawley-Boevey and asked what he had just been doing on the altar. Fr. Crawley-Boevey replied that he had just said the Mass. The man then asked what the Mass is. Fr. Crawley-Bouvey then explained that Jesus, who was nailed to the Cross on Calvary, to sacrifice himself for us, offers Himself to us again, in an unbloody way. The man then said he had seen this very event. He said that he had been watching Fr. Crawley-Boevey during the Mass, but that at a certain point “you bowed, you said something, and then you lifted up a round white object, when suddenly you disappeared and in your place, I saw a wonderful personage with arms outstretched; what beauty, what majesty! I can still see that face, those features, those eyes, the blood gushing from those wounds. His lips were moving as though he were talking to someone. And His body was shining like the sun. Then, after some time, this wonderful personage disappeared and you returned.”
(Adapted from an account appearing in My Daily Eucharist by Joan Carter McHugh, containing an excerpt from Jesus, King of Love, by Fr. Mateo Crawley-Bouvey)
The Miracle of Avignon, France
In the early 13th century, there was a certain group called the Albigenses who were prevalent in the south of France. Among other beliefs, they denied His Real Presence. In 1226, King Louis VIII had a chapel built in town of Avignon. The chapel was to stand as a proclamation of that Presence and the preceding sacrifice that was made on the Cross. In 1226, the King arranged a procession of the Holy Eucharist through the streets of Avignon, which ended at the chapel. Afterwards, for some 200 years, perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament was practiced in the chapel by a confraternity known as the Grey Penitents.
In late November, 1433, a great flood overtook Avignon. On the night of November 29-30, the waters rose around the chapel. Several members of the confraternity secured a boat and made their way to the chapel. They wanted to remove the monstrance in which the Eucharist was exposed and take it to dry land. After arriving, they saw that the waters had indeed entered the chapel. Fearful of what they would find, they entered. To their astonishment, the waters had parted. A dry path led from the doors to the altar. To the sides, the waters were holding, at a height of more than four feet. Two of the members fell to their knees and prayed. Others left to tell the news throughout the town. More people then came and also witnessed the spectacle.
On December 1, after the waters began to recede, great crowds converged at the site. Although the waters had clearly inundated the chapel, they were able to observe evidence of the miracle that remained. Among such evidence were books and papers stored under the altar, books and papers that were completely dry.
The Early Mornings of a Parish Priest
Once, a new pastor was assigned to a church. A man who lived nearby noticed a light in the church early each morning and wondered what the new pastor was doing at such an hour. So, one day, long before dawn, the man watched. He saw a single candle leave the rectory, pass through the cemetery and enter the church. The man followed. He peered into the church and observed the new pastor deep in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.
Out of reverence for Christ, who chose to be among His people here on earth but was alone in the tabernacle, the pastor went to visit Him. Out of a need to commune directly with his Lord and God, in a quiet and dimly lit church, the pastor began each day by taking his hopes and fears to Him.
This new pastor is known to us today as St. John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests.
St. Lucy before His Presence
It was 1917 in a little town called Fatima, in Portugal. Three small children claimed they saw the Blessed Mother. Many did not believe them. The children asked for a miracle to help the people believe. What followed has been called “The Miracle of the Sun.” According to newspapers at the time, it was witnessed by 70,000 people. One of the children was 10 years old at the time.
Her name was Lucia. She later became a Catholic nun. Several years after she had taken her vows, she received permission to make a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament, every Thursday and Friday night from 11:00 until midnight. One night, while alone in the chapel, she was praying near the altar rail. A solitary source of light was the sanctuary lamp.
Suddenly, as she describes it, the whole chapel became illuminated and a cross of light appeared above the altar. It stretched to the ceiling. The light was brighter at the upper end of the cross. There, she saw the face of a man and his body down to the waist. She also saw a chalice and a large host, suspended in the air. Drops of blood were falling from the face of the man and from a wound in his side. They were falling down onto the host and into the chalice.
Under the right arm of the cross, she saw the Blessed Mother. Under the left arm, she saw large letters, as if formed by crystal clear water running down upon the altar. They formed the words: “Grace and Mercy.”
Once before, St. Lucy had not been believed when she spoke about a vision. This time, while there was no miracle witnessed by tens of thousands of people to verify her account, that earlier event suggests her credibility is not to be doubted.
A Healing after being Blessed by the Holy Eucharist
A woman had seven major operations in nine years. She was totally paralyzed, had an extremely swollen abdomen and an open cut on her side that a surgeon had made to allow fluid to drain. John M. Haffert, in his book The World’s Greatest Secret, describes the scene as he was standing next to her when she was cured. He states that he saw the blankets over her stomach flatten, that he saw her sit up and saw that, and that within two hours, the opening in her side had been closed. He also attests that the cure took place immediately after the woman was blessed by the Holy Eucharist.
(Adapted from the account appearing in My Daily Eucharist by Joan Carter McHugh)
A Gentle Consolation
Early one Sunday morning, 12 days before Christmas, a man was alone before the Blessed Sacrament as he began a regular hour of adoration. For a reason he did not know, he began to say “All glory, praise and honor to You, Lord Jesus Christ, forever.” He repeated that over and over to himself, for the entire hour. He verbalized it mentally, in the background so to speak, as he meditated on other things during that time. He was not sure why he did this, but it made him feel good doing it.
Several months later, 10 days after Lent began, he had a very disturbing dream. It left him the very distinct feeling that he had been visited by a devil. It was not like any normal dream and he was worried about what it meant.
Three weeks later, he was in a Catholic bookstore. He picked up a book entitled the Medjugorge Prayer Book by Wayne Weible. He had a very distinct feeling when he picked up the book. It felt almost electric. Doubting what had occurred, he put the book down, and picked up a different one. No such feeling. Then a third book, but no such feeling. He picked up the first book again and instantly got the same feeling he did the first time. Not knowing why he should, he bought the book.
Several days later, on another Sunday morning, two weeks before Easter, he was again doing an hour of adoration. Near the end of it, he picked up the book he had purchased. Randomly, he opened it and his eyes fell on the following: “All praise, glory and honor to You, Lord Jesus Christ.” He immediately recalled the time he had spent an hour saying almost this exact little prayer and felt a connection. He knew he had been given a consolation. It was right to praise Him abundantly, it was right to do it despite any disturbances that might try to derail his faith. Now, the troubling dream was not so troubling. He was not alone. His Lord and His Mother would always be there, as they are for each and every soul.
The Power that Surprised a Priest
A new priest is sent to a parish to cover for their pastor while he was away. When people approached him seeking help with various illnesses, he instructed them to spend time before the Blessed Sacrament. Soon, he found more and more people were coming to him. He did not understand this and started to ask why so many people were coming. He learned it was because their prayers were being answered. This was the genesis for an effort he calls the Eucharistic Adoration Healing Ministry. The link provided below will take you to a webpage where he tells the story himself. It includes several testimonials of healings that have taken place.
To read the full story, click here.
Transforming a Church by Exposing His Presence
A Young Girl Experiences His Presence
A girl had been abandoned on the streets when she was seven. By age 18, she had become a prostitute and a heroin addict. She had also begun losing her sight. Some people brought her to a Mass. She did not want to be there. At a certain point, she began crying and could not stop, the first time she cried since she was 13. As she was walking out the door, she said “O God, I wish I could believe. At that moment, she regained her sight. Her addiction to heroin was also relieved, and she never suffered any symptoms of withdrawl. Later, she said, “I know what happened. At the moment Christ came, when the bread and wine changed into Jesus, I was changed.”
(Adapted from My Daily Eucharist by Joan Carter McHugh and Healing: God’s Work Among Us by John Bertolucci)
He Dwells There Day and Night
Dear children! God wants to make you holy. Therefore, through me He is inviting you to complete surrender. Let holy mass be your life. Understand that the church is God’s palace, the place in which I gather you and want to show you the way to God. Come and pray. Neither look at others nor slander them, but rather, let your life be a testimony on the way of holiness. Churches deserve respect and are set apart as holy because God, who became man, dwells in them day and night. Therefore, little children, believe and pray that the Father increase your faith, and then ask for whatever you need. I am with you and I am rejoicing because of you conversion and I am protecting you with my motherly mantle. Thank you for having responded to my call.
Message from Mary to the visionary Marija at Medjugorge on April 25, 1988.
Once, when St. Faustina was steeped in prayer, she was transported in spirit to the chapel, where she saw the Lord Jesus, exposed in the monstrance. In place of the monstrance, she saw the glorious face of the Lord, and He said to her: “… although there appears to be no trace of life in Me, in reality it is present in its fullness in each and every Host.”
Emmanuel With Us Still
Bolsena is a small town about 60 miles north of Rome. In 1263, a German priest, Peter of Prague was on his way to Rome. He stopped in Bolsena and said Mass in a church named St. Christina. He had his doubts about whether Christ was actually present in the Eucharist. This particular day, as he said the words of consecration, blood began to issue forth from the consecrated Host in his hands. It dripped onto the linen cloth underneath and onto the altar. At first, he attempted to hide the spectacle, but when he could not, he interrupted the Mass. He decided to go to nearby Orvieto, where Pope Urban IV was residing at the time. The Pope dispatched certain officials and an immediate investigation was launched. When the officials returned, they brought with them the Host and the linen cloth. The cloth, still exhibiting the stains of blood, is displayed in the Cathedral of Orvieto to this day. One year later, in August of 1264, the Pope instituted the feast of Corpus Christi. That day celebrates the presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, the continuation of Christmas, the time He first came to be amongst us.
When Knute Rockne became the head coach of Notre Dame’s football team, he was not Catholic. He came to appreciate the Mass and the power of the Eucharist, however, through the boys on his team. He describes the experience.
“I realized that it appeared more or less incongruous when we arrived in town for a game, for the general public to see my boys rushing off to church as soon as they got off the train, while their coach rode to the hotel and took his ease. So for the sake of appearances, if nothing else, I made it a point to go to church with the boys on the morning of a game.
Along about five or six o’clock in the morning, I started pacing the lobby of the hotel; when suddenly I ran into two of my players hurrying out. I asked them where they were going at such an hour, although I had a good idea. Then I retired to a chair in the corner of the lobby where I couldn’t be seen, but where I could see everyone who went in or out of the door.
Within the next few minutes, my players kept hurrying out of the door in pairs and groups until the last members of the squad hurried out of an elevator and made for the door. I asked them if they, too, were going to Mass, and they replied that they were. I decided to go along with them.
These youngsters were making a powerful impression on me with their piety and devotion, and when I saw them walking up to the communion rail to receive, and realized the sleep they had sacrificed in order to do this, I understood for the first time what a powerful ally their religion was to them. This was when I really began to see the light, to know what was missing in my life, and later on, I had the great pleasure of being able to join my boys at the Communion rail.”
(Taken from My Daily Eucharist by Joan Carter McHugh and Hidden Treasure, The Riches of the Eucharist by Louis Kaczmarek.)
It is 1266 in Santarem, Portugal, a village about 35 miles south of Fatima. A woman is distraught by the unfaithfulness of her husband and consults a sorceress for a cure to his infidelity. The sorceress promises help, but the price she requires is the deliverance of a consecrated Host. The woman receives Holy Communion and places the Host in a veil, so she can fulfill her bargain with the sorceress.
Soon, the Host begins to bleed. As she tries to leave the church, people notice blood on the hand and arm of the woman and think her injured. They offer assistance. She flees and runs home, leaving a trail of blood behind her.
At home, seeking to conceal her actions, she places the veil with the Host in a chest. Her husband comes home late that night, as usual. Sometime after that, they are both awakened by a strange light that has begun to come from the chest and illuminate the whole bedroom. The woman confesses all that happened and they both remain in prayer before the blessed Host until dawn, when the parish priest is summoned.
News spreads quickly throughout the village. The Host is carried in a solemn procession back to the church from which it was taken, St Stephens. The Host is encased in wax and placed in the tabernacle. The next time the priest opens the tabernacle, he finds that the wax enclosure has been broken into pieces. The Host is then placed in a monstrance and kept in the church, where it remains to this day. More than 750 years after the event, the blood that has coagulated in the bottom of the vessel containing the Sacred Host has been seen to have the appearance of fresh blood.
An Easter Sunday Story
One morning, before dawn, a man was in adoration before The Presence in the Blessed Sacrament and was troubled by a question. He had heard that the Lord had died for his sins, as he had the sins of everyone else, but could not understand it. He felt remorse for his sins, which were grievous and many. On the one hand, he wanted to believe that Christ died for his sins and that Christ would make such a sacrifice for those sins. On the other hand, he trembled at the thought that Christ had to undergo such pain and anguish for him, that he was partly responsible for such suffering.
The church was dark and no one else was in it at the time. He went to the back and picked up a hymnal. He began silently singing the words to “Jesus Christ is Risen Today.” Why not, it was Easter Sunday after all. When he got to the words “but the pains which He endured, our salvation have procured,” he instantly understood the answer to the question he had been asking. It came and it went it a flash, but the message remained. Of course, He died for our sins. He is “timeless;” His sacrifice is “timeless.”
His understanding of this was clear. It resided and came from a wealth of knowing that he would have loved to grasp, but could not. That was all in some limitless background and there was no time. The experience passed in so very fleeting a manner. But the part that was at the forefront, the sense that He was “timeless,” was clear enough to remain.
He realized that this “timeless” idea was not his own. It is not something that he would have thought of himself. Plus, the whole character of the experience was so very different from any normal time in his life. He had begun to discern other such moments. This was not the first. There were certain aspects they shared. There were certain things that said these moments were different. The most powerful one before this had also come during adoration, had also come when He was present.
The answer told him that yes Christ had died for his sins. It was the answer that he feared. And yet, the answer also brought a peace. The answer meant that he was loved, loved in spite of his sins, loved even after his sins. It was but one fleeting glimpse of a reality, but it brought so very much.
- from Mundelein, Illinois
The Miracle of San Mauro la Bruca, Italy
On the night of July 25, 1969, some thieves broke into the parish church of San Mauro la Bruca with the intention of stealing some of the more precious objects. After they had pried open the tabernacle, they took a ciborium containing many consecrated Hosts. Once they left the church, the thieves emptied the ciborium and threw the Hosts on a footpath. On the following morning a child noticed the pile of Hosts at the intersection of the road and gathered up the Holy Eucharist, immediately giving the Hosts to the pastor. It was only in 1994, after 25 years of detailed analysis, that Msgr. Biagio D’Agostino, Bishop of Vallo della Lucania, acknowledged the miraculous preservation of the Hosts. The conclusion of any chemical and scientific analysis acknowledges that after just 6 months wheat flour severely deteriorates and in a few years turns gelatinous and then, finally, to dust.
Brendan’s story: finding strength in His Presence.
It was 1875, in Philadelphia. An Episcopalian minister and his wife had a young daughter. Lena was their only child, nine years old. They engaged a servant girl to attend to her. The girl was an Irish Catholic, but they hoped they could convert her. She never went to church and had no “popish” emblem or book and was quite indifferent to religion in general.
One afternoon, when taking Lena for a walk, the girl felt an inclination to go to church, for the first time in years. On that day, a “Benediction,” in which the Blessed Sacrament is exposed, was being performed. Afterwards, Lena wanted to go back. Her parents did not allow it and discharged the servant girl. Lena, who had previously been a model little girl and the joy of her parents’ life now became stubborn and disobedient. She then fell ill, grievously ill. They summoned a doctor, but nothing could be found wrong with the child. The doctor demanded to know all the facts that surrounded the onset of the strange illness. The parents recounted for him the incidents that preceded it. The doctor insisted at once that they summon a Catholic priest. Lena was told nothing about a priest being called.
The priest, father John Dunn, carried a sacred Host in a small vessel hanging from his neck, as was customary with some priests then. As he entered Lena’s room, she sprang up in bed and exclaimed “You have brought my Lord.” She then cried, “ I wouldn’t go without Him.” As the priest tried to comfort her, she put her little hand on his breast, reaching, in a way, to be closer to Him. In response during the priest’s gentle questions during the administration of Last Rites, she revealed an understanding that was not to be expected. After saying an act of contrition for her sins, she was given the Eucharist. With a smile, she sank back on her pillow and fled to Our Lord.
The story briefly retold above is taken from a book entitled Moments Divine, first published in 1922, recently republished by TAN Books. On first reading it, it did not seem suitable for posting here. After all, the girl died, there was no miraculous healing, there was no hoped-for ending. Such initial feelings then gave way to a better understanding. We are conditioned by today’s culture not to deal with death, to try and beat it with medicine and to otherwise look away from it. In generations past, it was more a part of reality, more directly experienced. There is a beauty in this story, a true beauty. It is not sad. Lena herself knew the joy she was going towards. If we allow ourselves to believe, we can perhaps understand that a little better ourselves.
Reaffirming the Faith of a Priest
One day a young priest phoned Sister Briege McKenna. He had just learned that he had cancer of the vocal chords and had to have his voice box removed. He was troubled and afraid. Sister McKenna prayed with him, but also told him that he needed to take this matter to Christ. She asked if he did not realize that it was Jesus himself he received each time he said Mass, that it was Jesus who was actually passing down his throat each time he received the Eucharist and that there was no one better for him to approach with this concern.
He thanked her profusely. Three weeks later he went in for his surgery, but did not have it. The doctors told him that his cancer was gone and that he had brand new vocal chords.
(This story was recounted in Sister McKenna’s book, Miracles Do Happen, and in the book My Daily Eucharist by Joan Carter McHugh.)
The Miracle of Bourdeaux – Origin of the Feast of The Holy Family
After the French Revolution, an effort arose to repair some of the harm done to the Catholic Church and its people in France. Among such efforts was the founding of an organization of women called The Holy Family of Bourdeaux, sometimes also called the Ladies of Loreto. It had many houses around the city of Bourdeaux, and in the chapel of one of these, at 22-24 rue Mazarin, on February 3, 1822, something out of the ordinary occurred.
A priest, Fr. Delort came to perform a Benediction service. Two days later, he signed an official ”Attestation” of what occurred next. In it, he states that at 4:00 in the afternoon, in the sacristy of the chapel, he placed the Blessed Sacrament in a monstrance and exposed It. Instead of seeing a white Host, he saw Our Savior, head chest and arms, with a red scarf draped over his shoulder and chest. He looked alive, and moved his head from time to time. He did not trust what he saw and called an altar server to approach. He asked if he saw anything extraordinary, and he responded that he had already observed the miracle. The priest next instructed him to get the superior of the order. The vision continued through all the hymns of the Blessed Sacrament, the canticle and the orations. The monstrance was placed on the altar, but when he opened it, he did not see the white Host. He left the chapel, trembling.
As soon as he was outside, all the members of the house and the laypeople asked him if he had seen what they had.
The Mother Superior also signed an “Attestation.” She describes Our Lord as moving from time and time, with a face that seemed to want to come out of the circle on the side where she was. She states that she saw “light flashing from all sides and so quickly that each seemed, for a moment, to resemble long stems ending in a burst of a flower before it disappeared.” She went home, without speaking to anyone, but others came to tell her what they had seen and she realized that she had not made a mistake.
Other testimonials were signed by the altar boy and several witnesses.
In all, the spectacle lasted some twenty minutes.
The event was soon recognized by the Church, and Pope Leo XII instituted the Feast of the Holy Family in response. The feast was not universally honored at first, but in 1921, Pope Benedict XV extended it to the whole Church. The feast is now celebrated during the Christmas season.
In terms of understanding the significance of the event, the words Fr. Delort spoke to the people at the time are perhaps best: “You have seen our Saviour, which is a signal favor He has accorded us in order to make us remember that He is really with us.”
The Inspiration for Bishop Sheen
Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen was granted the title “venerable” by the Church on June 28, 2012 and is presently a candidate for sainthood. Upon his ordination, Archbishop Sheen vowed to do a holy hour of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament each day of his life. At every Mass he said, he asked the Lord that he might die during such adoration. On December 9, 1979, having kept his promise for more than sixty years, he was on his way into the chapel to spend another hour adoring His Lord in the Eucharist when he was called home.
A couple of months before his death, he was interviewed on national television and was asked: “Bishop Sheen, you have inspired millions of people all over the world. Who inspired you? Was it a pope?”
Bishop Sheen responded that it was not a pope, a cardinal, another bishop, or even a priest or a nun. It was a little Chinese girl of eleven years of age. He explained that when the Communists took over China, they imprisoned a priest in his own rectory near the church. After they locked him up in his own house, the priest was horrified to look out of his window and see the Communists proceed into the church, where they went into the sanctuary and broke into the tabernacle. In an act of horrible desecration, they took the ciborium and threw it on the floor with all of the Sacred Hosts spilling out. The priest knew exactly how many Hosts were in the ciborium, thirty-two.
When the Communists left, they either did not notice, or didn’t pay any attention to a small girl praying in the back of the church who saw everything that had happened. That night the little girl came back. Slipping past the guard at the priest’s house, she went inside the church. There she made a holy hour of prayer, an act of love to make up for the act of hatred.
After her holy hour, she went into the sanctuary, knelt down, bent over and with her tongue received Jesus in Holy Communion, since she was taught that it was not permissible for laymen to touch the Sacred Host with their hands.
The little girl continued to come back each night to make her holy hour and receive Jesus in Holy Communion on her tongue. On the thirty-second night, after she had consumed the last and thirty-second Host, she accidentally made a noise and woke the guard who was sleeping. He ran after her, caught her, and beat her to death with the butt of his rifle. This act of heroic martyrdom was witnessed by the priest as he watched grief-stricken from his bedroom window.
It was this story that inspired Archbishop Sheen to make a holy hour of adoration everyday of his life. If this frail, little child could give such testimony and witness to the real and wonderful presence of her Savior in the Blessed Sacrament, then the Archbishop was bound by all that was right and true, to do the same.