Daily Archives: August 11, 2010

Blood in the Tabernacle: Eucharistic Miracles

On June 7, 2010, Fr. John Hedges of St. Stephen Catholic Church in New Boston, MI, told his parish of a Eucharistic miracle that had occurred the week before.  Here is a firsthand account from a parishioner (READ IT), and here is a fairly objective account from a Catholic blogger who lives in the area and took a skeptical stance but is inclined to believe it having investigated a bit.

It sounds very similar to a story I read last year about a Polish priest who had an apparent Eucharistic miracle where flesh appeared on a host.  He had the host tested, and it was positive for human myocardial tissue.

Here is the summary of the case from the case in Sokółka, Poland, from the official diocesan investigation:

<blockquote>1. On 12 October 2008 a consecrated Host fell out of hands of priest distributing Holy Communion. He has picked It up and placed in the vasculum in tabernacle. After the Mass, vasculum with contents has been transferred to the safe in sacristy.

2. On 19 October 2008 after opening the safe one could see a red stain on the Host, giving the impression of being the blood stain.

3. On 29 October 2008 the vessel with Host was transferred to the tabernacle in the chapel of the rectory. Next day The Host has been removed from the water and placed on the corporal in the tabernacle.

4. On 7 January 2009 the sample from the Host has been taken and examined independently by two professionals in pathomorphology of Medical University in Bialystok. They have issued a common statement as follows: “the sample sent to assess (…) in our opinion (prof. Maria Sobaniec-Lotowska and prof. Stanislaw Sulkowski) looks like the myocardial tissue, at least of all the tissues of living organisms it most resembles.”

5. The Commission found that the Host, which was sampled for the assessment is the same that has been moved from the sacristy to the tabernacle in the chapel of the rectory. Third party intervention was not found.</blockquote>

At the time, what struck me was the reverence of the priest at giving the Host all that attention and the fact that the priest bothered to have it investigated at all.

A similar situation is at work in this case from Michigan.  Fr. Hedges found a desecrated host in a hymnal.  He said it was, sadly, quite common to find such hosts around the church.

He put the host in a vasculum and put water on it, just like the priest in Poland, wanting to dissolve it for proper disposal.  Now, there is some confusion apparently whether the “miraculous” Host (an odd term, since they’re all miraculous) is the one that was in the vasculum or one that was reserved in the Tabernacle, but the sequence was very similar.  He went back, and saw what appeared to be blood on a host in the Tabernacle. Puzzled, the next day, he checked the Tabernacle again, and there was a lot of blood.  Next day, there was less.  He felt it was a sign, and thus told his congregation about it.

Now, the thing that strikes me is that, according to one of the reports, Fr. Hedges said this was not the first time he’d seen blood on a host in the Tabernacle–but it’s usually something that appears and goes away, and this was the first time it stayed.

One of my favorite saint stories is the one about St. Louis of France–who is, of course, one of this site’s patrons–one Christmas Eve.  A courtier came in to his private chamber and cried, “Your Majesty!  Come quickly! There has been a great miracle at Midnight Mass in the Royal Chapel!  When the priest elevated the Host at the moment of Consecration, the Face of Christ appeared in the Eucharist!”

The holy King and Third Order Franciscan (patron saint of all secular orders) turned to the courtier calmly and asked, “Why are you interrupting my meditation on the birth of Our Lord to tell me of a miracle that occurs at every Mass?”

I often wonder if Eucharistic “Miracles” of this sort happen more often than people realize, and most people either don’t notice or just accept it and move on.  My dad in his many years as a church musician witnessed a few Eucharistic miracles.  I have witnessed one–I was at a daily Mass once, and as the priest said, “This is my Body,” I heard a loud bang and saw a bright flash of white light.  I looked around to see if anyone else saw anything.  I also looked around to see if a socket or light bulb had blown out.

These days, you get YouTube videos of hosts elevating themselves, bleeding, appearing to burn, etc.  Many people say, “Miracles are multiplying.”

I don’t really think so, because, in the history of the Church, only one or two of these miracles have been widely reported per year, and we’re still at the same average.  Again, as actively as I keep my eye on such things, I’ve seen two very similar miracles reported a year apart (and the one in Poland only became news when the Diocesan investigation closed, a year and a half later).  So I don’t think the miracles are more common–but I do think we’re noticing more because of technology and able to share more because of technology.

Thus, to me, the most interesting part of this Michigan case is that the priest admits it’s actually quite common for priests to see blood in the Tabernacle.  They just realize it’s no big deal.

Facebook: The Democratization of our culture

As the various waves of Internetdom have come, the Internet has increasingly been seen as a new egalitarian frontier.  Of course, like most frontiers, there’s only so much room before new hierarchies form themselves.

About 14 years ago, you could be an instant millionaire if you came up with a new idea of how to use the Internet (still can, but it’s rarer).  The “Web” was going to provide all sorts of great ways to do business with little overhead–some of them worked; some didn’t.

Then came Drudge Report, then Blogging–and, suddenly, anyone could be a journalist.  Any Joe Schmoe with the right info could now break a national story by publishing it online.  And lots of cases that merely would have been local before became national.  For example, shortly after this blog was formed, a girl in California named Katelyn Sills became an Internet celebrity (at least in some circles) because of a row that she and her parents had had with her Catholic-in-name-only high school (which has since closed due to donations and enrollments dropping since the incident).  After numerous other beefs with the school’s liberalism, Katelyn’s parents had pointed out that, while they were protesting in front of the local abortuary, they had seen one of the school’s teachers, Marie Bain, serving as a Planned Parenthood escort (you know, the people who “protect” women from the “dangerous” pro-lifers).  Bain was fired by diocesan order, but Sills was expelled by the principal, and her parents were banned from the school.

It is the kind of experience that a lot of people have had at “Catholic” schools over the years–the Internet made it a story.

As it happens, I wondered in all this why no one had reported on Marie Bain herself (at the school, she was teaching drama, and she was supposedly an actress), so I Googled her name, and wrote a post about some of the previous work in her acting resume–information I found off of such places as IMDB and Bain’s own website–and got myself a mention on a radio talk show.  I also got accused by a liberal of unfairly digging into this woman’s background (again, by Googling her name and finding a list of plays and movie’s she’d appeared in, all public record).

In the old days, a liberal priest preached heresy, and the laity who actually cared had to 1) shut up and put up with it, 2) switch parishes (if the other pastor would let them), or 3) be labelled a fruitcake fringe element (this included those who actually sent reverent and documented letters to bishops).  Now, laity who are disgruntled with their pastors’ heterodoxy and/or liturgical abuses–and have the evidence to back it up–can post that evidence online.

Live in a parish that encourages people to come in costume to the Vigil Mass of All Saints?  Bring a digital video recorder–or just your cell phone, and then upload the video to YouTube!  The priest may even get a verbal reprimand from his bishop!

Proud that your parish “invited” you to dance half-naked in front of the altar to a recording of a Celine Dion song?  Post it on YouTube, but don’t expect lots of positive feedback (comments on that particular video are apparently disabled).

Now, a priest named Fr. Joseph P. Breen of Nashville, TN, posted a video on his parish website of an “interview” in which he declares that the Church needs to change its teachings on issues like women’s ordination, contraception, etc.  See, Fr. Breen has seen the amazing numbers of people flocking to fill Episcopalian MegaChurches, and, like many people of his generation, he thinks that these are the kinds of moves the Church needs to bring in more collection basket revenue to pay for his impending retirement to a tropical island.

Instead, it brought in a wave of protest, centering around a post at Creative Minority Report. The Most Rev. David Choby, Bishop of Nashville, ordered Breen to take down the video (which he did), and is considering further canonical action.

This never would have happened even a decade ago.   I’ve directly heard at least 4 priests issue this kind of direct tirade–in person or from the pulpit–and have heard of many others (all of them wishing for the death of then Pope  John Paul II so they’d get a “liberal” Pope–bet they were surprised!)   One of those priests apparently gave the “homily” precisely because he was about to be ousted.  In most of these cases, the people who *rejected* the homilies in favor of orthodoxy.  Meanwhile, the rare priests I’ve known who’ve given homilies directly condemning the many evils of our society end up getting sent off to mental hospitals after offending “the wrong people.”

Anyway, another manifestation of the way the Internet is changing things is how connected we’ve become with Facebook and Twitter.  Facebook, used properly, lacks the anonymity of message boards and blogs or the relative distance of traditional websites.  In the early years of the Internet, you knew that it was possible that someone “famous” might be reading your posts, but they rarely contributed except in special guest chat sessions or whatever.

Sometimes, you might have a moderately famous person as a member of your listserv or forum.  And of course, you could always comment on *their* blogs and sites, or send them e-mails, and might possibly get some feedback.

And if you *did* have someone on your forum or e-mail who claimed to be “important,” or even just an “inside source,” you were highly suspicious of the claims, due to the anonymity of things.

Now, with FB and Twitter, people of all classes and strata are interacting on a regular basis.  You never know for certain if the “famous people” among your “friends” or “followers” are actually reading *your* posts, though sometimes they do comment on something you say.

There is always the question of whether the person on FB or Twitter really is whom they claim to be.  For example, there was a bit of controversy recently over a guy claiming to be Jim Caviezel.  Sometimes, celebrities on FB or Twitter even show that they’re just like the rest of us to the point that they tick people off.  People don’t like finding out that their idealized pro-life hero has a potty mouth or that Scott Baio’s wife issued a rant on Twitter.  So people may actually accuse the real person of being a fraud, even though they’re legit.  And, of course, a person may have an “official” FB page or Twitter feed managed by an assistant, so you can’t be certain if the more personal posts are from that person or the assistant.  The only way you can ultimately know that is by reading regular statuses.

Anyway, I was up last night worrying and praying over a crisis in my family.  Ironically, it hit home for me precisely because of something on Facebook.  The relative in question posted some troubling statuses.  I tried to reach out, and he shut down his account immediately.  I was rather shaken, and prayed, and wasn’t able to focus on my usual work because of it.  So I was staring at FB.

Among the many pro-life leaders among my 900+ FB friends is Kathy Ireland. The former model turned fashion mogul is married to an OB/Gyn and attributes her own pro-life stance to reading her husband’s medical books (for this, the liberals in the media call her a stupid air headed model).  In addition to more “acceptable” charities like Make a Wish, she’s very involved in pro-life work and has been a popular conservative “celebrity guest” on talk shows for the past decade or so.

Since I have so many FB friends, it’s rather random whose statuses show up, but around 3 AM last night, Kathy Ireland started posting *a lot* of statuses.  First quotations, and then abstract reflections on life, intermixed with frustrations about insomnia and having to be up in 2 hours to get ready for work and a TV appearance.  And, in the midst of those status updates, she said that the *reason* she was up and worrying about a relative with the same kind of problems.

In that particular instance, there was no direct communication, because she was posting through Twitter (which I do not actively use except to relay this blog feed), but it just struck me how close these social networking tools really bring us to one another, I where the elites and the nobodies meet in the same virtual space to share the fact that we are all just human beings, having the same human experiences.

I wasn’t sure how to contextualize this link, but you might want to look at this related piece by Joe Hargrave over at The American Catholic.