While on pilgrimage recently in Italy, I took my group of pilgrims to several places that centered around miraculous events, including the first documented Eucharistic miracle, the Holy House in Loreto, another Eucharistic miracle in Siena, and the Veil of Manoppello. It is well worth your time to read about even one of these miracles, and perhaps it was almost overwhelming to visit all of them within the span of a few days.
Kneeling in front of the Eucharistic miracle in Lanciano, all I could ask God was why He loved us so much. The term “Eucharistic miracle,” is a funny one – after all, the greatest miracle we witness on a daily basis is the fact that at the words of the priest, the Holy Spirit changes the substance of bread and wine into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ. While it appears to our senses to be normal unleavened bread and grape wine, the substance is now Christ Himself. So every Mass is a Eucharistic Miracle!
But at certain points in history, God has chosen to intervene in a special way, suspending the laws of nature to bring greater faith to those who witness it. In the 700s in Lanciano, a monk was celebrating Mass while doubting the Real Presence. After the consecration, the Eucharistic species was physically changed into flesh and blood. There were many witnesses, as this monk regained his faith in the daily miracle of transubstantiation.
This extraordinary miracle was preserved, and people began to flock to the little church. The blood coagulated into five globules. The archbishop ordered an investigation and that witnesses be interviewed. Over the next hundreds of years, numerous tests were performed on the miracle, including one by a World Health Organization commission. In 1981, tests with advanced medical technology concluded that the flesh and blood were of human origin. What is more, they were not from a cadaver, nor did the samples test as if they were centuries old. Rather, the samples taken from the miracle had the same properties of fresh human flesh and blood.
You can still kneel in front of the miracle today. We had Mass directly in front of the miracle. As if the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass isn’t miracle enough, God gives us more.
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, we need to regain our understanding and faith in the loving fatherhood of God. A good father knows his children will doubt him sometimes. Perhaps every child goes through a phase where they question if their father really knows what is best for them. A good father will have patience during this phase and continue to love their child through their doubt or rebelliousness.
And isn’t this what God does for us? We doubt the Eucharistic presence and so he gives us another miracle. We doubt the Resurrection and so He gives us the Shroud and the Veil of Manoppello. He humbles himself, constantly lowering himself to our level to accommodate us, as hard-hearted and foolish as we might be.
The Incarnation. The Resurrection. The Sacraments. The Eucharist. And still we need more. And He gives it. In the big miracles of our lives and in the smallest miracles of our lives, He is there, waiting for us. Always patient. Always loving. Always ready to give us one more sign, one more proof that He has loved us all along.