Dear Parishioners, +JMJ
Here is a beautiful quote from Pope Benedict XVI that I saw this past week: If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful, and great. This can be fine meditation for us as we think of Jesus Christ coming to us at Christmas in the manger. Let’s each one of us let Christ into our lives more fully this Christmas. Aren’t there ways that each one of us can give Him more access to our life, to our heart?
This coming weekend – the Fourth week of Advent and then Monday, already, Christmas – is going to be crazy for all of us! We have our normal schedule of weekend Masses Saturday and Sunday. But then Christmas occurs already on Monday! So, since Christmas is a holy day of obligation, we also have to fulfill our Christmas duty. That means that in addition to attending one of the weekend Masses, you also have to attend one of the Christmas Masses. Because there are so many Masses in those three days, we are not having a midnight Mass this year. That is primarily because I am already well beyond the officially allowed number of Masses for a priest, and on Christmas there are simply no priests to call for help. Next year, the midnight Mass should return (Although perhaps it will return at 10 PM, because, quite frankly, the midnight Mass has not seemed that well attended to me. And I wonder if 10 PM would be better attended. And it is very hard on one priest to cover a midnight Mass, with all of the other Masses. There is no rubric specifying that it has to be at midnight.) So, I hope to see you at a weekend and a Christmas Mass!
Please take time to visit the Eucharistic Miracles display set up in the basement of our Paulding church, until the end of December. The display explains many Eucharistic miracles that have occurred in the history of the Church. What is a Eucharistic miracle? Well, every once in a while the Lord makes it tangibly obvious that He is truly present, Body and Blood, in the Eucharist . This usually means that the Eucharist actually appears as what it really is, body and blood. We know from Church teaching that we are always receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. But, we receive these elements in the form of bread and wine. That is, they don’t appear as human flesh. So it feels to us like were simply receiving mere bread and wine. But, this couldn’t be further from the truth! In every host, we’re receiving the whole Jesus. That’s because He wants to be so near to us; and he found a way of giving Himself to us that is compatible with our human sensibilities. He gives Himself to us under the form of bread and wine, although it is truly His Body and Blood (joined always to his amazing Divinity!)
Well, in the various Eucharistic miracles throughout the centuries of Church history, Jesus allows the reality of His Body and Blood to appear as it is. So, if you visit the display in the basement of the Paulding church, you will see many accounts of people who have been surprised by the Host actually bleeding, or appearing as human flesh. On several occasions when I was studying in Rome, I visited a town called Lanciano, where perhaps the most dramatic miracle of the Eucharist appeared. The center of a Host literally bled out, leaving the circumference of the host looking something like scar tissue. That remaining circumference, and the drops of blood coagulated below it, are still on display today in Lanciano. I think perhaps this has been the most scientifically studied Eucharistic miracle in the history of the Church. Scientists determined that the flesh of the host was myocardial tissue (i.e., human heart tissue). And they determined that the drops of blood were male. So, many of the Eucharistic miracles have to do with the Host actually looking like what it really is, rather than maintaining the form of bread and wine.
In other cases, however, it is a matter of the Host remaining intact beyond scientific reasonability. There is a miracle in Siena, Italy, for example – which I have visited – where a precious gold ciborium had been stolen from the church, and the burglars threw the hosts from the ciborium into a nearby poor box. The hosts, made as they were in their day with no preservatives whatsoever, should have deteriorated or grown moldy or somehow become spoiled within quite a short period of time. But, in fact they remain totally intact to this day. So you can visit this shrine of the Eucharist, and there’s a special glass ciborium that contains more than 100 hosts, complete with the seal of the Church, still maintained for adoration in the upbuilding of our belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
It’s not mere wine you are receiving from the chalice! It’s not mere bread that you are receiving in the Host at Mass! You are receiving Jesus Christ, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity – even though it looks like mere wine and bread. In the next couple of weeks, spend an hour or so in the basement of the Paulding church to grow in your appreciation for the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist!
Have a blessed Christmas!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,