September 9, 2008

Eucharistic Miracles

I think my traditionalist credentials are pretty good, though there are those who disagree. But if it's one thing I can't get my spirit around, it's so-called "eucharistic miracles."

I was talking to someone the other day who was telling me about one. "And then the wine actually turned into the blood of Christ," he said.

"Isn't that what happens at every Mass?," I asked.

"Yes, Father, but this time it really changed.," he responded.

"Doesn't it really change at every Mass?," I repeated.

"Yes, Father, but this time you could see it!"

That's what gets me. To me, the fact that there is no observable change in the bread and wine has always been constitutive of my very idea of the Eucharist. This is the Lord, who, as St. Francis put it, "hides himself under the little form of bread."

This is the God who is revealed in secret and humility. This is the God who, contrary to the pride and desire for signs that live in the human heart, is revealed in the obscurity of of a homeless newborn and in the humiliation of a tortured and executed criminal. That this mysterious God should also hide himself "under the little form of bread" is no surprise. That there is nothing to see with the physical eye is perfectly consonant (and indeed a continuous revelation) with the Nativity and the Passion.

It isn't just that the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ, but that Jesus Christ is the sort of Lord who wills to become bread and wine. To me, for there to be nothing to see is part of what reveals the personality of God. God is the opposite of someone who ever makes a big deal about himself, and that's why I don't get this thing with "eucharistic miracles." It's already a miracle precisely because there's nothing to see. That's the "sublime humility" of the living God.


4narnia said...

hi Fr. C!
i totally agree with you on this subject. i'll post more on my reason when i have a little more time later in the week. hope you're having a nice week. see you soon. PEACE!
tara t

W. E. Messamore said...

Wow. That was an excellent explanation for why the Eucharist is made available to us in bread and wine. I'll have to remember that.

W. E. Messamore said...

I talked to one of my Orthodox friends about this post, and he also offered the answer that if God gave His Body and Blood to us in the same physical state of human body and blood, it would be far too hard for us to consume. It would just be too difficult for many of us to stomach it. He offers Himself in Bread and Wine as a mercy to us.