Understanding the Blessing of Miracles
God still performs a lot of miracle in our world today through men. Everything from the raising of the dead to restorative miracles of the body has been experienced in the Church for 2,000 years, accomplishing his words in Mark 16:17-20: “These signs will follow those that believe.” And they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it.”
And yet these miracles might be the best-kept secrets in Catholicism. I strongly believe that many souls would come to Christ in his Church if we as Catholics would simply teach them about these incredible gifts.
What is a miracle?
A miracle is “a sign or wonder, such as a healing or the control of nature, which can only be attributed to divine power. The miracles of Jesus were messianic signs of the presence of God.” – Catechism.
The main point above is that a true miracle “can only be attributed to divine power”; it cannot be described by the action of created beings. Thus when the Church looks into whether or not a phenomenon is miraculous, all natural contingency must first be removed. In fact, in its discernment process, the Church often brings in non believing experts in relevant areas, whether they are doctors when discerning physical healing or scientists when examining other material phenomena.
If anything, the Church would prefer the investigating expert to have an inclination against rather than in favor of a real miracle. The principle is simple: God does not need our assistance to impart miracles. He is able to do it all by himself in a way that will be convincing to any and all who sincerely desire the truth.
In A.D. 700, at the Monastery of St. Longinus in Lanciano, Italy, a priest-monk whose name is not popular today was celebrating the Holy Eucharist. He had been contending with his faith in the Real Presence when our Lord granted to this priest and to the world a miracle that even up till date continues to be visible evidence of the truth of the Eucharist.
There after the consecration—after the bread and wine he gave had been transubstantiated into the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ—the accidents of bread and wine he was holding in his hands were transformed into real human flesh and real human blood.
Over many years there have been many occasions where the Church allowed this miracle to be examined, but probably the most thorough of these examinations took place in 1970, under the expert scrutiny of Odoardo Linoli, head physician of the united hospitals of Arezzo, Italy, and Dr. Ruggero Bertelli, a professor emeritus of human anatomy at the University of Siena. The discoveries of their research were not convertible:
The flesh was the muscular tissue from the myocardium of a human heart.
The blood tested from both the flesh and coagulated blood was AB positive and human in origin.
The proteins in the coagulated blood were “seen to be normally fractionated, with the same percentage ratio as those seen in normal fresh blood.” In other words, this blood was not later planted from a cadaver; it came from a living body and maintained properties of fresh blood.
In as much as the receptacles containing the miracles were not secretly sealed, nor did they have any detectible preserving agents, the flesh and blood had been protected for well over 1,200 years, in as much as they would have been exposed to all sorts of variant temperatures and atmospheric state, the smoke of incense, et cetera (Joan Carroll Cruz, Eucharistic Miracles, Tan Books, 1986, 3-7).
Recently, a lot of annual pilgrims visit Lanciano, where the Eucharistic miracle is protected, to view the flesh, which upholds a pinkish hue, blood vessels remaining visible as a sign of the truth of the Real Presence of Christ in the sacrament.
Precisely on August 14, 1730, in Siena, Italy, criminals broke into the Church of St. Francis, collected the lock on the tabernacle, and stole the golden ciborium consisting of consecrated hosts. After a deep search, the sacred hosts were found stuffed into an offering box in a nearby church, St. Mary of Provenzano.