For the Apostle Thomas being told about the resurrection of Christ was not enough. He needed a hands-on experience to cure his skepticism. The Lord provided that assistance to renew his faith.
In a certain sense some people are like Thomas: “I have to see to believe.” And the Lord provides help again, especially in regards to the mystery of the Eucharist as the real presence of Christ under the appearance of consecrated bread and wine.
This seemed the case when a pastor in Utah, alarmed that many of his parishioners were joining the Mormons, asked a nationally known apologetics specialist to speak at his church. The expert gladly explained the foundations of our faith to the adult audience.
The apologist was shocked to hear later that the pastor had become a Mormon, but then returned. Asked why he came back to the Catholic Church, the priest said he woke up at night with his hands shaking. He realized that he had been ordained for the Eucharist.
How could this happen? Perhaps what Dominican Father Gabriel O’Donnell, a theologian, wrote in his essay “The Eucharist — Heart of the Priest’s Life,” published in the book “Born of the Eucharist — A Spirituality for Priests,” comes to the heart of the matter.
The academic dean of the pontifical faculty at the prestigious Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., noted: “The notion of the sacrificial character of the Mass has been muted in ordinary Catholic teaching in the last few decades. Without clarity on this point, there is no true theology of the Eucharist.”
If the pastor in Utah suffered a deficiency in his seminary training, divine providence supplied the medicine: a personal miracle, as it were, that got the truth across to him.
The power of such miracles, recorded for many centuries in the church, was apparent to Carlo Acutis, a 15-year-old boy in Milan, Italy. He compiled what has become the Vatican International Exhibition of the Eucharistic Miracles of the World that is now touring many countries. The exhibit is also traveling in the Diocese of Charleston.
Carlo’s faith is astounding when we learn that with some assistance from his mother, Antonia Salzano Acutis, a curator at the Pontifical Academy Cultorum Martyrum in Rome, the teen researched the entire collection of 140 officially recognized eucharistic miracles and arranged them in exhibition form.
Probably the two most famous examples are that of Bolsena and Lanciano, both in Italy. The Bolsena miracle of 1264 produced Corpus Christi — the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ — whose liturgy was composed by St. Thomas Aquinas.
The Lanciano miracle occurred in 750 when a Byzantine priest doubted that unleavened bread was valid for consecration. Suddenly the bread became flesh and the wine became blood. Records still exist from that time. In 1970, the evidence was submitted by church authorities to scientific scrutiny. The flesh proved to be heart tissue and the blood was fresh as though recently drawn. A once skeptical scientist replied by telegram: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” A book available at www.therealpresence.org covers all the numerous sites in 17 countries.
An aggressive type of leukemia claimed Carlo’s life in 2006. He is described by those who knew him as a pleasant, thoughtful boy, with a variety of interests. Although he had to work hard at school, experts unanimously claimed him to be a computer genius. His strong faith manifested itself in daily Mass and defending the moral teachings of the church when they were contested in school.
Carlo had a devotion to Our Lady and planned a similar project about her apparitions since he believed that such exhibits manifested God’s mercy to our prodigal times. His popular biography “Eucharistia: La Mia Autostrada per il Cielo” (The Eucharist: My Highway to Heaven) is being translated into English.
The cause for the beatification of Carlo is being introduced in the Archdiocese of Milan, according to www.carloacutis.com.
He is still spreading his faith and devotion universally as a youthful eucharistic evangelizer, especially helping those who are skeptical about the sacramental realities of our faith.
At a parish near you