Once when Jesus was praying in solitude,
and the disciples were with him,
he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”
They said in reply, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah;
still others, ‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen.'”
Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Peter said in reply, “The Christ of God.”
He rebuked them and directed them not to tell this to anyone.
He said, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly
and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed and on the third day be raised.”
Wow, what a day we had on our pilgrimage today! We woke up in our Hotel Ede in Caramanico and enjoyed breakfast before departing for Lanciano, the site of the oldest Eucharistic miracle in the 8th century.
This Eucharistic miracle is something that I have been wanting to experience and it was more than I expected. The miracle happened during Mass while the priest was consecrating the bread and wine. He was doubting the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and was contemplating leaving the priesthood. During the consecration the bread and wine turned into flesh and blood.
Scientists have studied this flesh and blood as recently as 1981. They have found that the flesh is human heart tissue and the blood is type AB human blood. The blood in the heart tissue is also AB. Human flesh and blood usually disappear within a few years. The fact that this Eucharistic miracle is still intact more than 1200 years later is amazing! It truly is a gift from Jesus.
I found myself on knees in tears thanking God for His abiding presence in our lives and the extent to which He goes to show us this love. I found myself echoing Peter’s words, “You are the Christ of God.” Not only did Jesus die on the cross for us, but He also gave us the Eucharist to abide with us forever. And when our faith begins to waver, He gives us a miracle to tell us, “I am still with you.”
We were able to celebrate Mass right in front of this Eucharistic miracle. I have to say that it was a powerful experience for me to celebrate Mass in the presence of this Miracle as the Eucharist is what brought me into the Catholic Church and the priesthood. May we never take for granted the gift of Jesus’ real presence in the Eucharist.
From Lanciano we took a bus ride to San Giovani Rotunda, resting place of St. Padre Pio. Padre Pio was a Franciscan who died in 1968 who bore the wounds of Christ in his own body (the stigmata). We saw the place where he first received the stigmata praying before a beautiful crucifix.
We visited his tomb which was very powerful as well. Whenever I am in the presence of the saints, I feel the overwhelming desire and call to “be holy as our heavenly Father is holy.” And I felt this very strongly visiting the site where this holy man lived, prayed and ministered.
Padre Pio united his life so closely to that of Jesus that he was given some very special gifts. He was given the gift of languages, hearing confessions and counseling people in languages that he never studied. He could bi-locate. There are documented occurrences of him being in two different places at the same time. I can only think that the Lord wanted to multiply his efforts because of his extraordinary holiness. He also could read souls, often asking people about their sins before they ever mentioned them.
Do I believe in Jesus’ real presence in the Eucharist?
Am I answering my call to be holy?
What are the desires of my heart as I read these words about the Eucharist and St. Padre Pio?
Dear Jesus, increase our faith in you. Help us to see you more clearly all around us, but especially in the Blessed Sacrament. Help us to then to see you in all the people we meet today. Help us to grow in holiness every moment of every day. Help us unite ourselves to you like Padre Pio so that you may live your mysteries in and through us. St. Padre Pio, pray for us.