Philip Kosloski graduated from the University of Saint Thomas in Minnesota with a Bachelor’s in Philosophy and Catholic Studies and completed his Master of Arts degree in Theology with the Augustine Institute. He is a writer and author of In the Footsteps of a Saint: John Paul II’s Visit to Wisconsin. He blogs at philipkosloski.com and writes to help all Catholics master the art of prayer by conquering the practical obstacles that prevent a fruitful relationship with Christ.
On April 17, Bishop Zbigniew Kiernikowski of Legnica, Poland announced the approval of a Eucharistic miracle in his Diocese. The miracle happened about two years ago when, “a consecrated Host fell to the floor [during the distribution of Communion and] was picked up and placed in a container with water. Soon after, red stains appeared on the host.”
The miracle was tested and the “Department of Forensic Medicine found: ‘In the histopathological image, the fragments were found containing the fragmented parts of the cross striated muscle. It is most similar to the heart muscle.’ Tests also determined the tissue to be of human origin and found that it bore signs of distress.”
What is interesting is how this Eucharistic miracle differs from other miracles, such as the miracle at Lanciano. Often the Eucharist is changed into blood after the words of consecration and at the altar in response to a lack of faith from the priest.
This time, the miracle occurred after a Precious Host was dropped during Holy Communion. The miracle itself would have happened in the sacristy when they put the host in the water (as is proper procedure), but it appears one cause of the miracle was a lack of care for the Blessed Sacrament.
Now, accidents do happen and I am not trying to single out the person or priest who dropped the host. However, it does bring up an interesting topic: the use of patens.
In the Catholic Church, the paten is typically a gold disk that is used by an altar server to hold under the mouth or hands of the person receiving Communion. It is meant to catch any hosts or particles from the host from falling to the ground.
The practice has been abandoned by most in the Church for the past few decades, but the document, Redemptionis Sacramentum, cites this instruction, “The Communion-plate for the Communion of the faithful should be retained, so as to avoid the danger of the sacred host or some fragment of it falling.”
This document was prepared by the “Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments by mandate of the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II in collaboration with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was approved by the same Pontiff on the Solemnity of St. Joseph, 19 March 2004.”
Even the General Instruction of the Roman Missal references “the Communion-plate for the Communion of the faithful” as a part of the items needed for Mass on the credence table.
What this miracle should do is make us reconsider how we approach the Holy Eucharist. Do we truly believe that Jesus is present in the bread and wine at Mass? Do we treat the hosts with all due respect, being extremely careful in distributing the Precious Body of our Lord?
We shouldn’t abandon the use of patens at Mass because it seems “outdated.” The reason why we use patens at Mass is because of our love of God!
Why do we hold our children with utmost care, making sure we don’t drop them? Why shouldn’t we have the same care for the Eucharistic Host at Mass that is Christ the Lord! What we hold in our hands is not just bread!
Maybe this miracle came at the right time in our world, when many Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence of Christ and during an era in the Church where the Eucharist is not cared for properly. The heart tissue found “bore signs of distress” and maybe it was to show us Christ’s hurt when we do not take care of Him.
Let us use this as a teaching moment and rekindle our love of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament!
O Sacrament most holy! O Sacrament divine!
All praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine.