Eucharistic Miracles are Signs Pointing to, Not Replacements for, Every Celebration of Mass in the World

As has been noted in this space already, I find Eucharistic miracles consoling and helpful in my ordinary day-to-day faith. And given that I think the evidence for them (bona fide and carefully check out ones) good, I have not problem with believing they have occurred. God, under carefully controlled laboratory conditions, can do whatever he pleases. And it sure looks a heckuva lot like, at rare moments and according to his own inscrutable counsels, God chooses to make visible what is normally invisible by revealing to our senses Who the Eucharist is. Accordingly, I agree completely with Chesterton on the reality of the miraculous:

Somehow or other the extraordinary idea has arisen that the disbelievers in miracles consider them coldly and fairly, while believers in miracles accept them only in connection with some dogma. The fact is quite the other way. The believers in miracles accept them (rightly or wrongly) because they have evidence for them. The disbelievers in miracles deny them (rightly or wrongly) because they have a doctrine against them. The open, obvious, democratic thing is to believe an old apple-woman when she bears testimony to a miracle, just as you believe an old apple-woman when she bears testimony to a murder. The plain, popular course is to trust the peasant’s word about the ghost exactly as far as you trust the peasant’s word about the landlord. Being a peasant he will probably have a great deal of healthy agnosticism about both. Still you could fill the British Museum with evidence uttered by the peasant, and given in favour of the ghost. If it comes to human testimony there is a choking cataract of human testimony in favour of the supernatural. If you reject it, you can only mean one of two things. You reject the peasant’s story about the ghost either because the man is a peasant or because the story is a ghost story. That is, you either deny the main principle of democracy, or you affirm the main principle of materialism–the abstract impossibility of miracle. You have a perfect right to do so; but in that case you are a dogmatist. It is we Christians who accept all actual evidence–it is you rationalists who refuse actual evidence being constrained to do so by your creed. But I am not constrained by any creed in the matter, and looking impartially into certain miracles of mediaeval and modern times, I have come to the conclusion that they occurred. – Orthodoxy

So while I do not credulously accept every claim of a miracle, neither do I doggedly refuse to accept one on the empty dogmatic assertion, “Miracles don’t happen” either. Especially when it looks for all the world like they do anyway.

That said, there is always a danger of any miracle, including (indeed perhaps especially) a Eucharistic miracle.’

The proof of this is found in the pages of the gospel itself, when the primal Eucharistic miracle–the miracle of the loaves and fishes–was dramatically misread by most of the crowd. Where Jesus intended it to point forward to the coming gift of the Eucharist, many saw in it only the promise of free chow, rather like a dog sniffing your finger when you point to something. Indeed, most of Jesus’ disciples misread the sign so badly that the more strenuously he tried to get them to see the point, the more offended they became at his resolute refusal to see things their way. In the end, most of his disciples abandoned him that day (cf. John 6).

Eucharistic miracles can still be misread today. They are intended to remind us of the truth of what every Eucharist everywhere always is: Jesus Christ fully present in his glorified body, blood, soul, and divinity. In short, they are given by God to remind us that the Eucharist is not a thing, but Jesus Christ himself. .The moment people start treating these rare signs as “more” real than a Eucharist celebrated in any ordinary parish anywhere in the world is the moment a Eucharistic miracle has passed its sell-by date (at least for that person). Let the Eucharistic miracle do what it was intended to do: point you back to the awesome and miraculous gift you receive every time you go to Mass at your own home parish or any other ordinary place. Don’t weaponize it against that miraculous gift of an ordinary Eucharist in any sleepy little chapel in any ordinary place anywhere in the world.


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