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On October 19, around eight o'clock in the morning, upon opening the sacristy safe, Sr. Julia was struck dumb with amazement. In the center of the white Host she saw what looked like a bloody piece of living flesh measuring about a centimeter by a centimeter and a half. Msgr. Stanisław Gniedziejko would later recall his shock at seeing the blood-red substance on the white Host. On taking a closer look at the bloody substance on the Host, he saw something resembling a piece of flesh—a bloody fragment of living tissue.
"When I took the sample," states Prof. Maria Sobaniec-Łotowska, "I had no idea what this substance was. I obtained a small amount of it. It was brown in color and adhered closely to the preserved fragment of the Blessed Host.”
It turned out that the mysterious substance into which the fragment of the Host had changed was muscle tissue of a human heart experiencing the agony of death—as if on the point of cardiac arrest.
On November 4, 2009, Profs. Sulkowski and Sobaniec-Łotowska published a statement in which they once again certified the results: of their studies conducted on the sample taken from the transformed Host.
The transformation of the consecrated Host into the muscle of a human heart in its death agony is a sign calling us all to repentance. It is a reminder to all of us that every Holy Mass is a re-presentation (making present) of the passion, death and resurrection of Christ.
Superior General of Society of Christ
Tomasz Sielicki SChr
Poznań, 5 IX 2012
Recepta na życie wieczne
© 2009, 2011, 2012 Wydawnictwo AGAPE sp. z o.o.
© 2013 Wydawnictwo AGAPE sp. z o.o.
ISBN ePub: 978-83-63759-35-3
ISBN MOBI: 978-83-63759-34-6
Mieczysław Piotrowski SChr
At the end of each article the author’s name is specified
Photos from “Love One Another” magazine archive
Translations: Christopher A. Zakrzewski, Alicja Kozłowska
Cover design: Paweł Fiszer
Print: Edica, Poznań (Poland)
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Recipe for Eternal Life
Does the instant of death mark the total extinction of a human being or only a transition into a new, never-ending dimension of existence? By refusing to ponder the question of our certain death we deprive our life of authenticity and cloak it in a mantle of hypocrisy. We must open ourselves up to the mystery of man and seek out the hidden presence of Jesus Christ, who embodies the only answer to the riddle of our suffering and death.
You must search – stated the French physicist and philosopher Blaise Pascal. “When I say that you must search, I do not say this out of a sense of holy fervor… I say this not out of religious piety or plain curiosity, but out of a sense of our own personal gain. I am amazed and terrified by people’s indifference to the following question: eternity, which brings with it death, is such a sublime thing, concerning us so deeply, that one must be bereft of any sense of reason to remain indifferent to such a problem… Surely there is nothing more important to a man than his destiny; nothing more unsettling than the eternity that awaits him? And yet with other things man behaves quite differently: he fears them, places his trust in them, takes precautions against them, informs himself about them. And so the man that spends days and nights fuming and despairing over the failures of his career walks steadily and unthinkingly toward death, which is a wager for all or nothing. For me, it is a terrifying thing to see someone fussing so fastidiously over small and transient things, while remaining so blithely indifferent to what is great and eternal.”
What we have here is that darkening of the mind and heart about which Jesus speaks: “men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil“ (Jn 3:19). To rouse people out of their mental lethargy over the subject of their own death, Pascal resorts to a final argument: “if the believer is mistaken, and it is true that silence and darkness are all that remain across death’s threshold, he will never know this. If, on the other hand, it is the nonbeliever that is mistaken, and something does exist, he will pay the price of his mistake for all eternity.”
Thus, faced with the certain prospect of our death, our only reasonable response is to cling to the person of Christ. This can only be accomplished in what St. John of the Cross called the “darkness of faith.” Here there is no empirical certainty. One must simply make a personal decision to come to know and accept the joyous news of salvation as handed down to us by the apostles. It was for us and for our salvation that God became a real man at a concrete time and place. He took upon Himself the sins of us all, was condemned to death by crucifixion in Jerusalem by the procurator of Palestine, Pontius Pilate, and, after dying on the cross, was buried in a tomb. On the third day, He rose again, as He said He would, and appeared many times to His disciples. By His death and resurrection he sustained the final victory over sin and death, and now invites all of us to participate in His victory. Jesus says: “I am the resurrection and the life. If anyone believes in Me, even though he dies, he will live, and whoever lives and believes in Me, will never die” (Jn 11:25-26).
To free ourselves of the hopeless and meaningless slavery of sin and death, we need to “hope against hope” that God will love us to the end (cf. Jn 13:1). By becoming true man, God united us to Himself and, in the mystery of the Eucharist, remains with us always… to the end of time (Mt 28:20), thereby giving us a part in His risen life. Many of Jesus’ listeners were scandalized by what Jesus had to say about the Eucharist. “I am the living bread, which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world… I tell you most solemnly, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you will not have life in you. Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life, and I shall raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink” (Jn 6:51, 53-55).
We break free of the hellish hopelessness of sin and death when, in all our sinfulness, like the Prodigal son, we cast ourselves into the arms of Christ in the Sacrament of Penance, and then, having confessed our sins, receive Him into our hearts in the gift of the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the Risen Christ in His divine humanity. It is the summit and supreme treasure of the universe.
André Frossard, the French journalist and writer, discovered the mystery of the real presence of God in the Eucharist during a chance encounter with the Blessed Sacrament, which had been exposed for adoration in one of the churches of Paris. The following is an account of his conversion as described in his book Dieu en Question (Poche, 1991): “When I walked into the chapel, I was an atheist. When I walked out a few minutes later, I was a Christian and a witness of my own conversion. I was filled with amazement, a state of mind that endures even now…
My father wanted me to attend the Teachers’ College by Rue Ulm. I went there when I was twenty years old, but I mistook the side of the street and instead of entering the College, I walked into the Sisters of Adoration…
“What I am going to relate to you is not the story of some intellectual discovery. It is an account of a physical occurrence experienced under all but laboratory conditions. When I opened the iron gates of that convent, I was an atheist. Atheism takes many forms. There is philosophical atheism, which identifies God with nature. It denies Him a separate individuality and places all things within the reach of human intelligence; nothing is God, everything is divine. This atheism leads to pantheism under the form of some ideology or other. Scientific atheism rejects the hypothesis of God which it considers unsuited to scientific inquiry. It tries to explain the existence of the world exclusively in terms of matter and its properties, without asking where this matter originates. An even more radical form of atheism is Marxist atheism. Not only does it deny God, but it would send Him on vacation even if He did exist. God’s insistent presence would be an obstacle to the free exercise of the human will. There is also the most widespread form of atheism, with which I am well acquainted. Idiotic atheism. This was my kind of atheism. Idiotic atheism poses no questions. It considers it natural that human beings should be living on a fiery ball covered with a thin crust of dry mud, rotating on its own axes at ultra-sonic speed around the sun – itself a kind of hydrogen bomb hurtling past billions of lampions of mysterious origin and unknown purpose. I was still such an atheist when I walked through the doors of the chapel, and remained so a while longer inside. Against the light, the people seemed to be mere shadows… Something bright like the sun shone in the depths of the chapel. I did not know that this was the Blessed Sacrament.
“I had never known the heartaches of love, or mental anguish, or even what it is to be curious. Religion was an old illusion and, on the path of historical evolution, Christianity was merely a belated throwback. History had declared itself on our side – on the Left, and the problem of God had been solved in the negative for the past two or three centuries. In my milieu, religion was so unfashionable that there was no need even to be anticlerical, unless it was during the elections… Even now I can see the twenty-year-old boy that I was. To this day I remember his utter amazement when, suddenly, before his eyes, there came out of the depths of that humble chapel a light, a different light – of unbearable brightness and unimaginable density; a light that at once revealed and concealed the presence of God, the very same God that just a moment ago that boy would have sworn existed only in the human imagination. At the same time, he was swept up by a wave of sweetness mingled with a joy of such power as to make the heart burst with a desire for repentance. That memory would never grow dim, even in the worst moments of his life, moments not infrequently filled with fear and unhappiness. From then on, that boy’s abiding task would be to witness to that sweetness and excruciating purity of God. On that day, God showed him, by contrast, the kind of mud he was made of…
That light, which I saw not with bodily eyes, was not the kind of light that shines on us and causes our skin to turn brown. It was a spiritual light, i.e. an illuminating light – the glow of truth, as it were. It reversed once and for all the order of things. From the moment I saw it, I was able to say that only God existed for me; everything else was mere hypothesis…
“As concerns my free will, it was only after my conversion that I really began to exercise it – only after I had understood that God alone can save us from all the dependencies that we inevitably fall into without Him.
I stress again. This was an objective experience, straight out of the field of physics, you might say. I have nothing more valuable to say than this: beyond this world, which surrounds us, and of which we are a part, there looms a world considerably more substantial than the one in which we normally put our trust. It is the ultimate reality. Before it, there are no more questions to pose” (pp. 21-24).
Many years later, after winning worldwide renown as an author and journalist, Froissard would observe: “What can I do when faced with the news that Christianity is true? Can I help it if Truth exists and that Truth is a Person?”
Christianity is not a thing, or an idea, but a Person named Jesus Christ. He conquered death by His resurrection and now remains with us in the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist, that he may lead us to life everlasting in heaven. Anyone can receive His gift of Divine Love and eternal life. All we have to do is meet one condition: place total trust in Jesus in the darkness of faith and commit ourselves to Him for the rest of our life. This is the only recipe for achieving perfect happiness and eternal life in heaven. To pass up such a chance would be the height of folly and thoughtlessness.
Fr. M. Piotrowski SChr
Sokółka – Poland’s Lanciano
In October of 2008, an extraordinary event took place at St. Anthony of Padua parish church in Sokółka, Poland. A consecrated Host was transformed into a fragment of muscle tissue belonging to a living human heart suffering severe stress and on the point of death.
Transformation of the Host
At 8:30, on Sunday morning October 12, 2008, Fr. Filip Zdrodowski was celebrating Holy Mass at the above-mentioned church. While Fr. Jacek Ingielewicz was assisting him in distributing Holy Communion, one of the hosts fell by accident on the altar step. A woman parishioner kneeling nearby noticed it and pointed it out to Fr. Jacek who promptly picked it up. Observing that the Host was soiled, he placed it in the vasculum, a small bowl of water standing beside the tabernacle (the vasculum is the little basin the priest washes his fingers in after distributing Holy Communion).
After the Mass, the sacristan, Sister Julia Dubowska, took the vasculum into the sacristy, emptied its contents into another vessel, and locked it away in the safe. Only she and the pastor, Msgr. Stanisław Gniedziejko, had a key to the safe. It is worth noting that Sr. Julia is a member of the Congregation of the Sisters Servants of Jesus in the Eucharist whose special charism is to promote veneration of Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament.
Having never before dealt with such a situation, Sr. Julia examined the vessel every day to see if the consecrated Host had dissolved. Normally the host dissolves completely in the water after several days. She expected the same to occur in this case. On October 19, around eight o’clock in the morning, upon opening the sacristy safe, Sr. Julia recognized the smell of bread. She assumed that the Host had dissolved completely and that she could now empty the contents of the vasculum into the sacrarium, a special drain located near the altar.
Sister Julia Dubowska, sacristan at Sokółka
When she looked at the Host in the vessel she was struck dumb with amazement. In the center of the white Host she saw what looked like a bloody piece of living flesh measuring about a centimeter by a centimeter and a half. As laboratory analysis would later show, it was real muscle tissue characteristic of a living human heart in the agony of death, as if on the point of cardiac arrest. Sr. Julia stared at the extraordinary object with the greatest astonishment and reverence. She confessed that she felt like Moses gazing on the bush in the wilderness that burned without being consumed.
Seeing the nun standing motionless so long over the transformed Host, Fr. Filip Zdrodowski asked her what was the matter. Sr. Julia explained to him what she had in her hand and how the consecrated Host came to be there. She placed the vessel on the desk so that the Monsignor and the other priests present in the sacristy might see the transformed Host.
Msgr. Stanisław Gniedziejko would later recall his shock at seeing the blood-red substance on the white Host. The water in which it was immersed remained untinged by the blood. On taking a closer look at the bloody substance on the Host, he saw something resembling a piece of flesh—a bloody fragment of living tissue.
Pastor of St. Anthony’s parish in Sokółka, Msgr. Stanisław Gniedziejko
Everyone knew this was a consecrated Host in which the Risen Christ was present in His glorified human nature. They began to wonder if this red substance on the Host were the result of a natural process, or if it might not be a supernatural sign through which Christ wished to make something very important known. The Monsignor immediately cautioned those present against trivializing the mysterious phenomenon. That same day he informed His Excellency Archbishop Edward Ozorowski of the incident. Shortly afterwards, the Archbishop paid a visit to Sokółka. On examining the Host, he gave orders that it should be kept safe and observed closely.
On October 29, the vessel containing the Host was transferred to the tabernacle of the Divine Mercy Chapel in the parish presbytery. The following day, the Archbishop had the Host removed from the water, placed on a white corporal, enclosed in a pyx, and deposited in the tabernacle. In a short while, the Host dried out. The reddish brown bloody substance encrusted itself onto the corporal, and thus it remains to this day. For three years the Host was kept in the presbytery chapel. Not until October 2, 2011 was it solemnly brought back to the church and displayed for daily adoration in the chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary.The expertise of two outstanding scientists.
The expertise of two outstanding scientists
On August 5, 2009, on the Archbishop’s instructions, the Metropolitan Curia of Białystok sent a letter to Profs. Maria Sobaniec-Łotowska and Stanisław Sulkowski of the Białystok Medical University requesting their scientific expertise on “the material adhering to the Host as preserved at St. Anthony of Padua parish church in Sokółka.” The letter stressed the need for treating the matter “with all due seriousness, urgency, and in the strictest confidence.” Profs. Maria Sobaniec-Łotowska and Stanisław Sulkowski are both outstanding scientists, highly respected in Poland and abroad. For thirty years they have specialized in the field of histopathological diagnostics and have many academic achievements to their credit. They work in two separate branches of the Białystok Medical University: the Institute of Medical Pathomorphology and the Institute of General Pathomorphology.
On August 7, 2009, Prof. Maria Sobaniec-Łotowska traveled to Sokółka where, in the presence of a special commission, she took a sample of the mysterious substance on the Host. “When I took the sample,” she states, “I had no idea what this substance was. I obtained a small amount of it. It was brown in color and adhered closely to the preserved fragment of the Blessed Host.”
The two professors conducted separate, rigorously scientific analyses of the sample of the Host. Using state-of-the-art light and electron microscopes, they photographed and made detailed descriptions of the morphological images.
The results of the separate, independent analyses were in complete agreement with each other, greatly astonishing the two scientists. It turned out that the mysterious substance into which the fragment of the Host had changed was muscle tissue of a human heart experiencing the agony of death—as if on the point of cardiac arrest.
Professor Maria Sobaniec-Łotowska explains: “In the tiny fragment of material, which we examined, we found the presence of several morphologically distinctive markers indicating myocardial tissue. One of these markers is the phenomenon of segmentation, i.e. damage to heart muscle fibers at the zone of insertion, and the phenomenon of fragmentation. These lesions appear as multiple small cracks, as if cut with a knife. Such changes occur only in necrotic fibers and reflect the rapid contractions of the heart muscle in the final stages of death.
Prof. Maria Sobaniec-Łotowska (Photo: Mark Klukowski)
Another important proof that the test material comes from the muscle of a human heart is the mainly centralized configuration of the nuclei in the observed fibers, which is characteristic of that muscle. Along the length of some of the fibers we also found patterns consistent with node contractions. Closer electron-microscopic examination revealed outlines of the insertion points and delicate microfibrillar networks. Summarizing our findings in the report to the Archdiocesan Curia, we stated: ‘The material (...) indicates myocardial tissue, or at least, of all the tissues of a living body, it most resembles it.’ And what is important, in our opinion, is the fact that the material we analyzed consists entirely of this tissue.”
Prof. Stanisław Sulkowski M.D. (Photo: Adam Białous)
Professor Stanisław Sulkowski emphasizes, “The matter comprising the Host quickly dissolves when immersed in water. But the Blessed Host from Sokółka has not broken down for reasons that remain baffling to science. What is still more remarkable is the fact that the middle portion of the Host turned into heart muscle tissue, forming an inseparable structure with the rest of the white Host.”
The photomicrographs are empirical, scientific proof that no one could have united the two structures—heart muscle tissue and bread. Even scientists equipped with the most up-to-date equipment could not produce anything like it, so closely is the matter of the Host united and interpenetrated with the heart muscle fibers. This excludes any possibility of human interference.
Professor Maria Sobaniec-Łotowska stresses, “This extraordinary and mysterious interpenetration of the white Host’s material with human heart muscle fibers was observed, examined, and photographed using both light and electron microscopy. The indication is that there could not have been any human intervention. Yet another extraordinary fact bears mentioning. The Host remained immersed in water for a considerable length of time, after which it was placed on the corporal. Yet our studies indicated none of the changes one would have expected of heart muscle fibers being immersed in water for so long a period. From the point of view of empirical research, we are unable to explain this fact. These are undoubtedly the most important studies I have conducted in my life. The results were shocking to me. They point to an extraordinary phenomenon, which from a scientific standpoint, is simply inexplicable.”
Pseudoscientific attempts at questioning the facts
The liberal and left-leaning media have endeavored to cast doubt on the results of the pathomorphological studies conducted by the two outstanding scientists from Białystok. These media rely on the commentaries of pseudo experts who have no substantive grounds for forming a competent opinion on these studies. One of these pseudo experts, for example, opines, “It is not a miracle, but simple biology.” Another attributes the red coloring on the Host to a bacilli-shaped bacterium (serratia marcescens). He presumes to comment on the Phenomenon even though he has never seen it, let alone analyzed the miraculously transformed Host or even read the scientific documentation. Such an attitude is not only a denial of scientific objectivity, but also flies in the face of human logic and elementary principles of ethics; the more so, since both professors Sulkowski and Maria Sobaniec-Łotowska clearly state that “no bacterium known to science is able to create tissue structures; still less is it able to create muscle fibers characteristic of the human heart; and yet we have observed such fibers in the Host.”
This is a statement of objective and incontrovertible fact. Alas, there are some who, for ideological reasons, deny facts that cast doubt on their own ideological assumptions. Far from being objective, scientific claims, their opinions are pure ideology. They are the propaganda of lies.
Other preposterous charges have also been made. One group of so-called rationalists notified the public procurator, alleging that, since the sample analyzed by the scientists indicated heart muscle tissue of a dying man, a murder must have been committed. The prosecutor undertook to investigate the matter, but quickly dismissed the allegation for lack of proof. Atheists who reject objective facts behave irrationally. They are closed to the perception of truth for a very simple reason: they clap ideological irons on the reality that surrounds us. Only that exists which can be perceived by the senses, they claim with doctrinaire certainty. Hence, they state with absolute conviction, God and spiritual world could not exist. Yet when confronted with clear, irrefutable facts such as those that came to light at Sokółka—facts that cast doubt on their ideological assumptions—these same “rationalists” proceed to explain them away by resorting to laughable, irrational arguments.
“The indication of heart muscle tissue in the sample taken from the communion wafer points to a miracle, and one would need strong scientific evidence to disprove it,” observed pathomorphologist Dr. Janusz Miętkiewski in a letter to Maria Sobaniec-Łotowska shortly after the appearance of the Curia’s first communiqué.
The results of the pathomorphological studies conducted on the Flesh-Host from Sokółka were sent to the Metropolitan Curia in Białystok on January 21, 2009. The upshot of the report was unequivocal. The fragment of the consecrated wafer had been changed into heart muscle tissue belonging to a human being in the final stages of death. The structures of the heart muscle fibers and bread wafer were so closely integrated as to exclude of the possibility of human intervention.
Neither Professor Maria Sobaniec-Łotowska nor Professor Stanisław Sulkowski conceals the fact that they are believers. As scientists they are keenly aware of the awesome complexity and design of both the macro- and microcosmos. Since all this could not be of accidental origin, one comes to the logical conclusion that there must exist a Supreme Intelligence—the One Triune God. However, a rejection of faith in God is also an act of faith, but one that rejects the clear logical conclusions that arise from our perception of the world around us, the events associated with the life, death and resurrection of Christ, the history of the Catholic Church, and the lives of the saints.
Obviously, in studying the sample of the Host, Professors Maria Sobaniec-Łotowska and Stanisław Sulkowski were not guided by their faith; rather they conducted their expertise in accordance with the rigorous norms of scientific research, which they scrupulously documented with numerous photomicrographs.
On November 4, 2009, Profs. Sulkowski and Sobaniec-Łotowska published a statement in which they once again certified the results of their studies conducted on the sample taken from the transformed Host. In it, they deplored the way in which “the public is being led into error by being presented with hypothetical, pseudoscientific explanations of the phenomenon, which we studied, especially by individuals who are ignorant of the parameters of these studies, who do not have access to the material examined, and who all too often lack even an elementary knowledge of the research methods used.”
The transformation of the consecrated Host into the muscle of a human heart in its death agony is a sign calling us all to repentance. It is a reminder to all of us that every Holy Mass is a re-presentation (making present) of the passion, death and resurrection of Christ and that Christ is truly present in the consecrated Host in His glorified, resurrected humanity, in order that He may offer Himself to us as our “antidote to death.”
Fr. Mieczysław Piotrowski SChr
No Arguing the Facts
A true scientist examines the facts and draws her conclusions. If we suited our conclusions to a preconceived ideology, science would stand still. But when we study the facts honestly, we discover objective Truth.
The scientist confronting a miracle
Professor Maria Sobaniec-Łotowska is a first-rate scientist whose considerable academic achievements are recognized by the medical profession throughout Poland and abroad. Her expert opinions are normally considered definitive, since in her research and resulting conclusions, she is led by her conscience and the guidelines of the Ethics Commission of the Polish Academy of Sciences. So when she showed me the astonishing photographs obtained with the aid of optical and electron microscopy, I had no cause to doubt their authenticity. What I saw was truly astonishing.
Science operates on the principle of verifiability. What one scientist discovers or observes must be considered an objective fact if another scientist independently observes the same. I have not met or spoken with Prof. Stanisław Sulkowski, who studied the same samples and arrived at the same conclusions, but his signature at the bottom of the research report is good enough for me. The two professors have presented me with an incontrovertible, scientifically proven fact: that a portion of a consecrated Host was transformed into human heart muscle tissue.
Over the years I have observed many objects and structures under a microscope. I have studied the microgeometry of various surfaces. Consequently, when I saw the photographs, I had no trouble distinguishing the structure of the Host and the muscle tissue and tiny blood vessels that appeared fused onto it. These ill-matched materials were so bonded together as to form a single, unbroken, and astonishing structure of bread-which-is-at-the-same-time-human-flesh.
The transformed Host of Sokółka
To achieve such a fusion artificially is impossible. Hence the two professors were forced to acknowledge that the matter of the Host had mysteriously assumed the form of heart muscle tissue.
Prof. Sobaniec-Łotowska informed me there could be no doubt that the fragments of flesh observed under the microscope belonged to the heart of a living person in his death agony. All the morphological changes known to medicine were here present. As a specialist with thirty years of experience in the field of pathomorphology, the professor honestly described the results of her findings in her report of January 21, 2009, which she submitted to the Metropolitan Curia of Białystok. Since October of 2009, when the Ecclesiastical Commission published its communiqué, no substantive reservations as to the reliability of these results have been expressed. An honest scientist, irrespective of his religious world-view, must simply state that he is dealing with a miraculous phenomenon.
Men and women of science must also be able to connect facts. If while eating dinner, we saw bread being transformed into fragments of human flesh, we would be appalled and forced to seek an answer to the question why this happened. The believing community observing the miraculous transformation of the Host into the tissue of a suffering heart knows the answer to the question of the nature of this phenomenon.
We need to recall that a miracle, as the Gospel understands it, is not at all some astonishing, inexplicable occurrence. What is normally translated into our modern languages as “miracle” means, in the original tongues of the Bible, “power, a manifestation of God’s might” or “a sign, a supernatural confirmation.” God is not some conjurer who seeks to amaze people with cheap tricks. God has something to say to us and confirms the truth of His words with a visible manifestation of His power.
In the Gospel account of the Eucharist, the words of Jesus Christ are plain and unambiguous. Translated literally from the Greek, they sound as follows: “Take and eat (chew), this is my body (flesh, meat).” These graphic words point to an inconceivable reality: the disciples of Christ were to chew, to eat up His flesh, His meat, and drink His blood. The Apostles must have been horrified on hearing these words during the Last Supper. Christ’s earlier Eucharistic sermon caused many of His disciples to desert Him (Jn 6:60-66). Now, these words were the last straw, prompting Judas Iscariot to proceed with his plan of betrayal (Lk 22:19-21; Jn 13:21-22). The words were simply too hard for the human mind to accept. Only after the re-surrection of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit were the disciples able to fully accept the truth of the changing of the Eucharistic bread into the real Body of Christ. Even Saint Paul who was not present at the Last Supper had to “accept” this teaching without reservation—like it or not (cf. 1 Cor 11:23-29).
The Church teaches that the sacrifice made once and for all by Christ is re-presented on the altars of the whole world in the Eucharist. The evangelists expressed this astonishing truth in the word ανάμνησις, which is usually translated as “memory,” though “remembrance” or “commemoration” come closer to the original meaning. In the original Jewish context, the word meant “re-presentation” i.e. making present anew something that occurred once. When the Jews observe their weekly Sabbath, they do so as if “in remembrance of the days of the creation of the world.” In their understanding, they make present, i.e. actually re-live anew this day of rest, which occurred then, at the beginning of time. When they observe the Passover every year, they do this as if each of them was a real participant of the events in Egypt. Precisely this meaning is implied in Jesus’words: do this—really experiencing the sacrifice of my body on the cross.
Jesus spoke of offering up His body and pouring out His blood in such a way that the apostles who heard him understood that the sacrifice was actually occurring—in the present (not in the future). This must have seemed strange to them, given the fact that they could still see the living Jesus, eating supper with them. However, from the moment Jesus uttered their words, there began that eternal “now” of the sacrifice made by Him—offered up once, but made really present on the altar of every Holy Mass celebrated.
In revealing His will to the Israelites, God used such grammatical forms with remarkable consistency. He constantly spoke of things in the future as if they had already occurred. In reality—for God—they have already happened, though man has not yet experienced them firsthand. In revealing His divine nature to the Jews, Jesus Christ used a similar grammar. A notable example of this is seen in His words: “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven” (Jn 20:23). The human reality is bound up with time, and so the apostles will be able to forgive sins only in the future. But with Jesus these sins are already forgiven. He has made the sacrifice. He has forgiven them.
The Eucharistic miracle witnessed by Christ’s disciples at St. Anthony of Padua parish church and certified by two professors of pathomorphology at the Medical University of Białystok is a logical sign confirming the solemnity of the words of Jesus Christ. The extraordinary, irreplicable structure of the partially transformed Host confirms the supernatural source of power that accomplished it. At the same time, the heart tissue, crushed by suffering, points to the ongoing, actual re-presentation of Christ’s sacrifice in the Eucharist. It shows us that the words of Jesus as set down in the three Gospels and First Letter to the Corinthians are neither empty utterances nor metaphorical or symbolic in intent. They are reality—pure and simple.
Thus we are confronted with a series of unfortuitous, interconnected facts. Jesus uttered certain words. In accordance with these words, He offered Himself up as a sacrifice and rose from the dead.
The transformed Host of Sokółka
Accordingly, the Church has for twenty centuries been making His sacrifice and esurrection present in the Eucharist. A Eucharistic miracle is only a sign, a confirmation that all this is objective truth—that our faith makes sense and really does lead us to resurrection and salvation.
The “rationalists” exposed
The above are objective facts. The connection between them is logical and rational. Yet there have been those calling themselves “rationalists” who have reacted to the news of the miracle at Sokółka with extreme irrationality. They notified the public procurator, alleging that since the priest had in his possession a fragment of a human heart, he must have committed a murder. The authorities launched an investigation. The police paid a visit to the pastor.