The reader will recall that I had met a young woman at a parish event and she was asking me why I did not believe in miracles. My response to her had been that I did not believe in them, rather, I depended on them.
I met her coming out of Mass one morning and she asked if we could explore a few more events which she was considering as perhaps unusual, but not miracles. She said, “Let me take an alternate view. Maybe with the exception of the bridge and vertigo, everything else is just your imagination going nuts.”
I responded, “I will grant you that that may not be out of the realm of possibility, but check out the next couple / three…”
I continued, as you are aware, in the Catholic Church there are reports of Eucharistic Miracles. Well, I have experienced at least three versions of them.
As an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, I assist in the distribution of the Body or Blood. From time to time when distributing the Precious Blood, just at the furthest point in my peripheral vision, I can see angels kneeling in prayer. The angels are essentially androgynous and have both the grace of females and the power and strength of males. As I turn to either side to more easily see them, they are gone. They return when my focus returns to the Communicants. I do not see or sense them as present at every Mass. It is a rarity at best and that is what is most special about it.
Is There Another Example?
At one of the lowest points in my recent past, I went to Communion and on the way back to the pew, the composition and taste of the Host changed so much as to cause me distress bordering on terror. On the way to the pew, the host changed in texture and taste to something that I could describe only as a very rare prime rib, blood and all.
My entire audience, that would be the one young woman, said in unison, “O.K., as a Catholic I can understand that, but if you were speaking to a non-Catholic there is nothing there that would be anything other than wishful thinking or your own imagination involved.”
I said, “While it is true that I could quote my friend Ebenezer, ‘(It) may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato’, but if you thought there was any merit to the bridge and stream event, follow this one…”
Several years ago, my wife made appointments for each of us to receive a “Heart-Saver CT Scan”, which is, essentially, a scan of the chest cavity and the heart. The results of my scan indicated that there were seven points of occlusion in a total of five major blood vessels.
I had been under the care of a cardiologist since. Appointments every six months, stress test every 18 months, and so forth for 6 or 7 years or perhaps somewhat longer.
The town in which we were living had explosive growth over the past few years and a wide range of clinics, specialists and hospitals were then available in the town. Given this, I decided to move my cardiologist records to a lab physician closer to our home.
When I met the cardiologist, his PA had taken my vitals, medical records, ran an EKG and left me while for a moment until he came into the room.
Going over the information from the former cardiologist and the EKG, he told me that everything the other doctor found, he had found. He asked me at that point, “When was your heart attack?” I told him I had not had one ( that I recalled ).
We scheduled a nuclear stress test, continued the meds I had been on and waited.
I took the stress test, met their desired times, pace, incline angles of the treadmill and anything else they wanted, no shortness of breath, no issues of any sort. The PA said, “Wait for a week or so until the doctor goes over your records and make a follow-up appointment.”
My wife and I went to the follow-up to get the bad news and see what was next. The doctor showed the x-rays, photos, and such and said to my wife, “If I didn’t know better, I would say that someone made an error here. Look at these before and after images – they are the same. The EKG which was run during the test indicates there is nothing wrong at all.”
The doctor took me off of the six-month schedule and has me listed as PRN (Pro re nata is a Latin phrase that literally means “for the thing born”. It is commonly used in medicine to mean “as needed” or “as the situation arises”).
It took her a couple of moments before she spoke. “Wow. Do you have other examples?”
At a local parish, we take part in, and frequently lead the Liturgy of the Hours, the rosary and the Angelus, we are the altar guild ( for weekday Masses ), I am one of the lectors, and am one of the sacristans, and assist when the priest needs anything during Mass ( retrieve, repose the ciborium, etc, etc, etc. ).
My Third Eucharistic Miracle
Morning Mass was the site of my third Eucharistic event/miracle. I had been less than pleased with the church since it was built ( 4 years ago ), no aesthetics of any note, etc. The church nave is in the shape of a cross, as are many of the newer churches. The side sections are approximately 2 stories tall, while the center aisle of the nave is well over 40 feet tall, for no discernable reason. The altar and nave are so terribly empty, other than the Baptismal lap pool, that I was uncertain if the construction had been completed ( of course, it has been ), the tabernacle is off in the adoration room and is nowhere near the altar. There are sharp lines and harsh angles all over the place and not the gentle “softness” which would promote an attitude of prayer and reflection. However, the adoration chapel and the daily Mass chapel are intimate and made of Austin limestone, as is the nave of the church. Austin limestone is not simply white as with most limestone, rather it has shades of pale eggshell to light beige on one side of the spectrum and pale eggshell to light gray on the other end of the spectrum. Now, clearly, the miracle was simply a confluence of a couple of random acts, and all that was required was that:
I be kneeling in exactly the right spot during the Consecration, my eyes were at the correct angle when facing the altar, my head was at the exact vertical position, my head was at the exact vertical angle, the sun was shining through the windows and skylight at exactly the right angle, the sun was shining at precisely the correct intensity, the priest had elevated the host to the exact level required, he held the host at the exact vertical angle required, he held the host at exactly the correct angle off of horizontal to catch the light, and the composition of the host was exactly the correct blend of flour.
When all of these items aligned themselves totally in a haphazard, random manner, the elevated, Consecrated host appeared to disappear into the wall of the chapel based on the light, color, etc. Mary’s Kid was clearly telling me, “Hey Dummy, this is my House, sit down, shut up and color, and don’t get ticked that the building doesn’t meet your definition of a church.”
“Wow. Do you have other examples?”, she asked.
“Probably, but I don’t pay attention to the low-grade ones. When one happens, or at least when I become aware of it, I look up and say ‘Thank you’ and continue along. Do I simply believe in miracles, nope, I depend on them.”