‘The Fruit of Carlo’s Faith’: How the Eucharist Can Change Souls and the World

Interview with Antonia Salzano Acutis, mother of Blessed Carlo Acutis

Blessed Carlo Acutis memorial at Corpus Christi Catholic Church, Covent Garden, in the Diocese of Westminster, England
Blessed Carlo Acutis memorial at Corpus Christi Catholic Church, Covent Garden, in the Diocese of Westminster, England (photo: Andy Scott / CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

From Sept. 28 to Oct. 4 of this year, Antonia Acutis came to the United States as a producer and collaborator for the movie The New Manna, a film about Eucharistic miracles and the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. She also came to speak about the Eucharistic Revival, as her son Blessed Carlo is one of the patrons of this three-year event. Antonia spoke to packed churches and auditoriums in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., and Houston. 

She spoke with the Register about The New Manna, Blessed Carlo’s devotion to the Eucharist, the meaning behind Eucharistic miracles and why Catholics must rediscover this sacrament.

 

You have been promoting the movie The New Manna. Why is this film important for the world and, in particular, the U.S.?

I was in the U.S. recently because my son Carlo and St. Manuel González García are patron saints for the U.S. Eucharistic Revival. I spent time with people in Washington from the USCCB, and they tell me what is happening in your country: that 60% of American Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. You understand that this is a major problem because the Eucharist is the center of the Catholic Church. God is in the midst of us with his Real Presence. 

I believe that this film, The New Manna, directed by Angelo Libutti, which is being made with great professionality and seriousness, can be of great help to many souls to reflect on their faith.

 

This movie speaks a great deal about the sacrament of the Eucharist. Why are sacraments so important?

The sacraments are the most supernatural thing that we have on this earth. It is an enormous problem that people do not believe in the sacraments. Through Jesus’ infinite mercy and wounded side poured forth blood and water. The Church was born from there. Jesus gives us the sacraments through his greatest act of love: his death on the cross. 

The sacraments have an infinite value because, through them, Jesus gives us sanctifying grace.

If you don’t have faith in the efficacy of the sacraments, and their supernatural reality, it means you don’t have faith in Jesus. It means you don’t believe in something that Jesus told us. This is not a promise like others. When God gives us a promise, it has an infinite value.

Let’s remember that the sacrament of the Eucharist always acts, independently from the holiness of the priest and independently from our own fervor. In fact, the Church definitely proclaimed this in the Council of Trent (from 1545 to 1563).

 

Please tell us about the relationship between the world of science and Eucharistic miracles.

It is only because of God’s infinite mercy that he has given us these recent Eucharistic miracles that have been recognized by science.

Science has not always been allied with the Catholic faith. But in this case, it is a super-ally because it is incontrovertible and indisputable that if a Eucharistic Host becomes flesh, which ends up being part of the human heart, that has parameters of living tissue, with signs of the passion of Christ, with signs of the blood type similar to the Shroud of Turin — that, as you know, is the greatest relic that we have of Our Lord in the world — then certainly, this has to make one think. 

 

Can you tell me about these recent Eucharist miracles? How many are there?

We haven’t just had one Eucharistic miracle. We have had many. And I am only talking about those that have been actually recognized by the Church. But I will tell you that we have more than 20 Eucharistic miracles that are currently under investigation. A few of these have already received a positive judgment.

But let’s talk about the recent miracles that have already been recognized by the Church: 2013 Legnica in Poland, 2008 Sokolka in Poland, 2006 Tixtla in Mexico and 1996 Buenos Aires, where our current Pope Francis was actually the archbishop who ordered the investigation.

I ask: What more does God have to do?

 

One of the problems with miracles is that even with scientific evidence, some people refuse to believe.

It is just like when Jesus was on the earth. There were many people who did not believe. Jesus did miracles. He brought the dead back to life. He suspended the laws of nature that only God can do. He did incredible things. Yet, still, some people did not believe.

 

Tell us about Carlo’s devotion to the Eucharist.

Carlo used to say: If people really understood the importance of the Eucharist, churches would be so full that it would be difficult to get inside. Yet this doesn’t happen. He also noted that there would be kilometers-long lines of people waiting to get tickets for soccer games or rock concerts, literally ripping their hair out — but then there were no lines in front of the tabernacle. 

Carlo said that we are luckier than those people who lived 2,000 years ago next to Jesus, when he was on the earth in Palestine, walking on the streets. Yes, people could see him and maybe talk to him, but it was not that simple, because Jesus was often surrounded by the masses. We are luckier because we can go down to the tabernacle in the church behind our house and be near Jesus at any time. Carlo would say that we have Jerusalem behind our house because the tabernacle has the Real Presence of Jesus.

 

Some people have difficulty with the teaching on the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. What does the Church teach?

Pope Benedict XVI said that in the holy sacrament is the Presence of Jesus. It is a physical presence. He is really present. He hides under the species of bread and wine. We can’t imagine it. On the other hand, Jesus promised: “I will be with you every day until the end of the world.” This is a promise from God that has infinite value. Jesus did not intend that he would be with us only spiritually. He wanted to be our food and drink.

When Jesus said that the Jews’ ancestors ate manna in the desert from heaven but all of them died, this is because it was not the Bread of Eternal Life. But then Jesus said: “I am the Living Bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever” — thus clearly announcing the Eucharist. 

Then, in the Gospel of John, Chapter 6, Jesus goes on to say: Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in them.”

Therefore, Jesus is promising us something extraordinary: a special union through the Eucharist.

 

Some people leave the Church and the sacraments because of anger at other laypeople or clergy who are less than holy. What would you say to them?

It is super important to rediscover the beauty of Jesus’ promises and to go beyond what can be our judgments of the Church, which, in any event, are partial judgments. 

Jesus never promised a perfect earthly Church. Imperfections will always be present. But we can never doubt the sacraments because maybe the priest is not holy or because I dislike him. I need to believe in the words of Jesus because there is my faith. Many people deprive themselves of the Eucharist because they fall into judgments of others. This is not good for souls and their own spiritual life. And this is a shame, to deprive yourself of the sacraments, because there is nothing more supernatural on the earth.

 

How did Carlo come up with the idea of creating the website on Eucharistic miracles?

Carlo had the opportunity to teach catechism for five years. He saw in a very concrete way the reality of catechists: that the majority of people do not have faith. You can see this in the fact that many go through catechism classes but then abandon the practice of going to Mass. This decline of belief in the Eucharist is not just something that is happening in the U.S. Even in Italy, there has been a huge decline in people going to Mass on Sunday. It is happening in many countries. This shows a real coldness towards the faith.

 

What has been the effect of technology on evangelization? 

More than ever, now is the time for people to rediscover the beauty of faith. But especially now, we have the internet and many instruments of technology that we can use to learn more about Catholicism. People should be less ignorant about their Catholic faith.

Yet there is an illiteracy about the faith that is frightening and unjustifiable. This is especially true considering the instruments that we have at our disposition today which we certainly did not have 50 years ago, not even during the lifetime of Carlo.

When Carlo died [in 2006], there was still no smartphone. Can you imagine what he could have done with the technology of today? 

With the little bit of technology available to him at the time, Carlo, a young teenager from Milan, was able to do everything he did with his simple laptop. He created a website and exhibit that has gone all over the world and visited thousands of parishes. We are speaking about countries like China, India, Japan; countries in Africa, Australia, Latin America and the United States.


It seems that Carlo corresponded to a special grace from God. What can you tell me about this?

Carlo was able to do amazing things because of his intuition and his love for the Eucharist. Remember: All that we do that is good, it is always God who is working through us. Of course, Carlo was an instrument. He was inspired by God. He could have said “No” because we are all free to say “Yes” or “No.” Carlo gave his free disposition to God. He realized that there was a big problem in our faith because otherwise our churches would be packed.

 

Angelo Libutti (the director of The New Manna) told me that, during Carlo’s life, his computer caught on fire five times. Can you tell me about this?

Yes, we had to buy five computers for Carlo. The devil does not want us to speak about Eucharistic miracles. Don’t ask me how it was possible that his computers caught on fire. Carlo did not do anything to cause them. We were always very careful. Mysteriously, there were always strange things happening.

I saw that there were preternatural forces acting: preternatural, because, obviously, they were operated by the devil, certainly not God. These forces wanted to, at all costs, destroy what Carlo was doing. 

The fruits of Carlo’s website have been that many. Many people have been converted, and others have come back to the Catholic faith because of it. So it’s clear that someone didn’t want this.

 

What is your hope for The New Manna?

Angelo’s film is a wake-up call for the conscience and to support the faith of people who are far from God. It will be an act of great mercy if God permits this film be finished because I am sure it can bring many people to greater understanding. Films can be instruments on the part of God to bring many people to conversion. We remember that many films have helped others, like The Passion of the Christ and the film on St. Francis of Assisi [Brother Sun, Sister Moon] and the film on Padre Pio.

These movies can be an instrument to show God’s love. Cinema, when done well, can really help us to open ourselves up to faith and God.

 

What were Carlo’s favorite Eucharistic miracles?

Carlo’s favorite miracles were the ones where the Host transformed into heart muscle and wine into blood. These were the miracles that left one shocked and wide-mouthed. For Carlo, every miracle was great, but to impact people, he knew that you needed strong signs.

Many Eucharist miracles have been very striking: For example, there have been people who lived only on the Eucharist for years, like Venerable Marthe Robin or Servant of God Therese Neumann. Blessed Alexandrina da Costa lived 14 years only on the Eucharist. St. Nicholas of Flüe lived 19 years only on the Eucharist. 

There is the famous miracle of the conservation of Hosts in Siena. We know that, normally, Hosts will decay in a short time. The Siena miracle occurred 300 years ago. These Hosts have never decayed, even to this day.

There was also the miracle at Tumaco in Colombia. An underground earthquake caused a tsunami [in 1906]. The wave stopped when a parish priest went to the beach with the townspeople, holding up a monstrance with a consecrated Host inside.

Some Eucharistic miracles occurred where the Eucharist would fly up in the air. Sanctuaries have been built around the world as a witness to these miracles. There are historical documents with papal stamps, attesting to these miracles throughout the centuries.

 

How did Carlo investigate these Eucharistic miracles?

We ended up visiting many sites of Eucharistic miracles for two and a half years. During the time of Carlo — the internet came into being in 1998 — there was still little information and no publicly available photographs on these Eucharistic miracles. So this was a big job that we participated in as a family. We went to Spain, Belgium, France, Holland and Italy to take the photographs personally. Images are important. We thought it was important that people see these pictures for themselves. 

 

When God gives us a Eucharistic miracle, what is the message that he is giving?

The message is clear. God is saying: I am here, really present. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life. I am giving myself. I am the Bread of Life. I am giving you the instruments to sanctify yourselves, to reach eternal life, to fight against temptations because I, myself, fight with you. 

God is also saying: I am here, but I want your free love. It must be your will that brings you to want to use these means that I give you. God does not want to force anyone, or else he would have created us as robots. Instead, God created us with liberty. 

This is the great test of our life: Either we choose God, or we choose the world.

So, what is the problem? The world is not necessarily negative — but by saying the “world,” we mean that world that brings us further away from God. The choice is ours.

 

You have said that Marian apparitions, such as Fatima, are Eucharistic? Can you explain?

Fatima is a very Eucharistic apparition. Before Our Lady appeared to the shepherd children [Lucia dos Santos and Jacinta and Francisco Marto], she sent an angel to prepare them. He asked them to make reparations for outrages committed against the Most Holy Sacrament. And how did he prepare these children spiritually? With the Eucharist. After the angelic apparition, the three shepherd children lived in a state as if they were suspended from the world. It was a state that would last for days where they were so taken with their senses that they lived in a state of supernaturality. 

In an apparition that Sister Lucia had later on, when she had become a nun, she had a vision where she saw Jesus on the cross with a dove in front of him as the Holy Spirit. Then she saw that, from his face and side wound, fell drops of blood into a chalice with a Host. To the right of Jesus was Our Lady. On the left side, there was a fountain of fresh water descending with the words — written — “grace and mercy.” This means that from these sacraments descend the grace and mercy of God to us. This vision confirms for us that sacraments are the mercy of God. 

 

What about the miracles that have come about through Carlo’s intercession? What can you tell me about them?

We are seeing the fruit of Carlo’s faith now. Apart from miracles taking place in the whole world — every day we hear news about miracles through Carlo’s intercession — but more than anything, we are hearing about the spiritual help that he is giving. When we say that faith can move mountains, in a certain sense, Carlo has done this. 

 

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