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

Dear “Ria”,

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


  1. I agree that it's ridiculous to claim that bread and wine are transformed into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity at the Holy Sacrifice...since the bread and wine are transubstantiated (i.e., by singular conversion of the whole substance leaving the accidents of bread and wine existing in a singular way in no substance)and not transformed at all (i.e., not changed, since no corruption of the substance and accidents of bread or wine can possibly result in the generation of the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of His Divine Majesty).

  2. Well said, Rev. Faith is indeed impossible for the rationalist who ends up being a mere relativist with no Truth, but only petulant Almighty Opinion as his standard. In fact, another Eucharistic miracle has just occurred at Holy Family church in White Center on Roxbury Street SW. This Wednesday, September 12th at 8:30 am the priest to whom it occurred will explain it in English and expose the Host for all to see. I saw It last night at the Spanish Mass, took video and it's the Real Thing.

  3. I am reminded of the case of Fr James Bruse, priest of the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, who in 1992 received the stigmata. In addition, statues of the Virgin sometimes would weep in his presence. A writer for a newspaper published an interview he had with Father Bruse. I don't have a copy of the interview, but quote from memory.

    And, by the way, some of the phenomena that manifested around Father Bruse were, well, phenomenal. And they had a Divine effect. His parish at the time was close to going right over the modernist edge. The parishioners were shocked into a renewed faith.

    "People have told me that statues weep in your presence. Is there any truth in that?"

    "Yes, as a matter of fact, that one is weeping right now," he said, pointing to a statue in his office.

    The writer said he got up, went to the statue, picked it up and examined it. It was an ordinary plaster statue, but beyond any doubt or question it was weeping. The writer then stated one of the most telling set of words I have ever read: "This was a case of not believing my own eyes."

    Just exactly so. "... they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead." Luke 16:31. Faith is grace, pure gift. It you have it, you will see miracles when they happen. If you don't have faith, you will not see miracles when they happen.

  4. In editing, the last paragraph got moved to be the second in my comment.

  5. Blessed Jesus and Mary!

    I`ve read few articles about the Eucharistic Miracle Buenos Aires, Argentina and I`ve seen that they also made a documentary about it, a 30 minutes long video. Do You perhaps know where it is possible to buy this DVD? I`ve been looking for it on the internet, but unfortunately without any success. :(

    Thank You in Advance!

    May God`s peace and blessing be always with You!

  6. I believe in miracles, but more information is needed here. I am skeptical of scientists who seem to specialize in researching miracles, then sell books and lecture about it. This guy reminded me of a used car salesman in the video. They need to publish the details of the experiments and make them available to the public. Is that too much to ask? We are simply taking their word for it. Why wouldn't they publish a paper about this amazing find? Why hasn't the Church approved of the miracle as worthy of belief? They also need to have more objective scientists examine the sample and have the study peer reviewed. Zugibe and Castanon are known religious scientists who are biased and may have ulterior motives. Zugibe examined and approved of Catalina Rivas who is a fake stigmatist - so I am very cautious about his conclusions on the supposed eucharistic miracle. I don't believe for a minute that Zugibe was clueless about the nature of the sample he was examining, since he is known for miracle research and received it from a scientist who is known for miracle research. Castanon should have sent a sample to a more objective scientist for the sake of credibility. Plus, the story about the host has two versions - one says it was discovered stuck to a candlestick holder in the back of the church and another version says it was dropped during communion. Which is it? Castanon and Zugibe also have differing stories about the experimental process as well.

    1. Zugibe did not know the source of the tissue he was examining. It was a blind experiment. Get it Slick?

    2. Didn't you read what "the Rev. Know-it-all" had to say? They don't like questioning these miracles. They just want you to shut your mind off and believe it... without question. It is apparent that he stands staunchly against skepticism. But just because he thinks that is a good way to examine (or rather to not examine) claims, that doesn't mean that you or anyone else need heed his advice. I can never be certain if any of these people actually believe what they say, or if they are just being defensive due to an emotional reaction. It's clear that this guy, Rev. Know-it-all, has no intention of scrutinizing these miracle claims, because he wants to believe. And then he charges all atheists with just not wanting to believe. Ha! My belief in the reality of a claim has nothing to do with whether or not I want to believe it (as if anyone could possibly choose to not believe something after being presented sufficient supportive evidence; at best, they could merely ignore the evidence.). I am compelled to believe by overwhelming evidence. I am also uninclined to believe when there is insufficient evidence. It is just that simple. I wish these people (apologists) would stop trying to caricature "the atheist position" and create straw men to easily knock down. It's been stated before, numerously, but I will state it once more: The only atheist position is a disbelief in a god or gods. Not all atheists are skeptical, and they certainly aren't all immune from unjustified beliefs, as many actively believe in sasquatches, extraterrestrial visitors to earth, and unsupported conspiracy theories, just to list a few. Skepticism is not the position from which all atheists begin.

  7. err the point on this is that you have to let go of science for a mere second to understand why we believe! I know some of you don't believe in God but try to understand our point of view. We believe that He is all knowing, and all powerful. So to put it in an atheist," point of view," so "god" has the power to do anything he wants, even turn wine into blood, and a cracker into flesh." Well, yes! He can! We believe so! ( in response to all the other religions (in Jewish view, they call the nonbelievers "Gentiles")

  8. Do you have an opinion on the more recent Eucharistic miracles of Poland and Mexico?

  9. I do find it amusing that people will easily and happily believe a wafer made of flour can magically turn into human flesh and that they happily consume this.

    Point one is that they happily consume what they believe to be human flesh.

    Point two is that they believe in magic. They don't believe in faeries, ghouls, ESP, psychics, specters, gnomes, leprechauns, Santa Claus, unicorns or goblins. "Preposterous!" they say. But magical transforming wheat wafers...that's real!

    1. And clearly you’re a master of all space, science, and matter... yep nothing let to uncover. All that business about quantum physics and dark matter and energy solved.