by Joan Carroll Cruz
Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D.Profiles in Catholicism
Absolutely the greatest treasure of the Catholic Church is, without question, the Holy Eucharist in which Jesus Christ humbly assumes the appearance of bread. Whether retained in simple chapels or grand basilicas, the Eucharist which in Greek means Thanksgiving remains a sign of the Heavenly Father’s unwillingness to be physically separated from His children. His great love for us is manifest in the Eucharist. At times Jesus has found reasons for the presence to be expressed by performing Eucharistic miracles of various kinds. The author of this text has learned about these miracles by examining numerous books on the Eucharist, but only two volumes mentioned Eucharistic miracles, and these gave only one or two reports. If a picture is worth a thousand words, surely miracles of the altar, the species are still preserved or the event is well documented will encourage a keen awareness and appreciation of the Sacrament and will prove what many pages of print expound namely that Jesus is truly present in the Holy Eucharist. This text will be a compilation of miracle accounts. The accounts were gleamed from various sources, and were, authenticated by the churches involved.
The Holy Catholic Church teaches that at the moment of the Consecration of the Mass, the bread and wine on the altar truly become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. The bread and wine cease to exist, though the appearances and properties, or accidents, of bread and wine remain. This momentous change is known as transubstantiation that is change of substance. The consecrated host and the Precious blood under the form of wine are given the adoration that is reserved for God alone, since they are Almighty God Himself. This highest form of veneration is known latria. The opinions that Christ is only in the Eucharistic elements as in a sign, or that Christ is received only spiritually were condemned by the Council of Trent. Both the bread and wine become the whole Jesus Christ. His Body and His Blood, Soul and Divinity, so that the recipient receives Christ whole and entire under either form. The tiniest particle of a consecrated Host or the smallest drop of consecrated ‘wine’ is Christ. Yet Christ is not divided, He remains one. Our Lord is present as long as the appearances of bread and wine remain.
The great 13th century philosopher and theologian St. Thomas Aquinas has been called “the Eucharistic Doctor” not only for his inspiring theological writing on the Eucharist in his Summa Theologica, but also for his Eucharistic hymns and his composition of the Proper of the Mass for the feast of Corpus Christi, St. Thomas considered by many to equal Plato and Aristotle as one of the greatest philosophers of all time, declared on his deathbed regarding the Eucharist: If in this world there be any knowledge of this Mystery keener than that of faith, I wish now to affirm that I believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in this Sacrament, truly God and truly man, the Son of God, the Son of the Virgin Mary. This I believe and hold for true and certain.
Eucharistic miracles have taken different forms. On many occasions Hosts have bled, or a Host has been transformed into flesh and the Eucharist “wine” into perceptible blood. On other occasions Hosts have levitated, or have been preserved for long periods of time. These miracles have been resulted in a resurgence of faith in the Real Presence, as well as in conversions to the Catholic faith. They have been followed by acts of reparation and increased devotion for the “Sacrament of Christ’s love” In this way these prodigies have been strengthened the faith of thousands and even of millions, because many Eucharistic miracles have endured for centuries. We are privileged to witness these wonders, even if only through words and pictures. They remain a testimony by God to one of the most basic truths and more exalted mysteries of the Catholic religion: ”And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” not only in Bethlehem, but in every Catholic tabernacle and in every faithful Catholic heart.
The text contains a bibliography of Eucharistic terms as well as a bibliography of books to provide added reading. The stories of the Eucharistic miracles are numerous and beautifully laid out. The person who is devoted to the Eucharist can take the stories to prayer and contemplation.