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The Miracle in Our Midst

Brian Caulfield

Half a World Away


WHEN I was a religious education teacher, preparing second graders for first Holy Communion, I was sure to get their attention with a simple question: “Have you ever seen a miracle?”

The children’s eyes would light up, their mouths would open wide in wonder, and their minds would start racing. I could see their delight at the very thought–a miracle.

Some would tell about things they had seen on TV or the exploits of a movie superhero. Others would recall stories their parents or grandparents had told about strange happenings in their lives. After letting them run through their stories, I would say that they were telling me about fictional characters or things they had heard from other people. Then I would repeat my question, with emphasis. “But have you ever seen a miracle?” By this time, their attention was riveted on me.

“Well,” I’d continue, “have you ever been to Mass?”

They would all nod their heads. They were preparing for first Communion and going to Mass each weekend was a requirement of the class.

“Do you know the part when the priest says, ‘This is my Body … This is the chalice of my Blood’?”

Again they would nod, not sure what I would say next.

“Right at that moment, you see a miracle!” I would proclaim.

Blank stares would face me all around.

“At the moment the priest says those words and holds up the host, the bread becomes the true Body of Christ,” I’d explain. “And at the moment the priest says the words over the cup, the wine becomes the true Blood of Christ.”

Hints of understanding would spark in their eyes.

“Boys and girls, this is not just another class you are taking, this is the most important thing you will ever learn in your life,” I’d continue. “Jesus loves you, each one of us, so much, that at the Last Supper he left us His very self under the appearance of bread and wine. So now, when the priest acts in the Person of Jesus at Mass, we can receive the very being of Jesus in Holy Communion. This is what you are preparing for, to receive Jesus, God Himself, at your first Holy Communion!”

Inevitably, questions would come: “How can Jesus be in that little piece of bread?”

“If Jesus is in heaven, how can we receive Him here on earth?”

The questions were earnest and urgent, showing that this topic was important to them, and they really wanted to know the answers.

My answers would be short and simple, so not to complicate the matter. “Did God create the world, the earth and the planets, the sun and stars?” They would agree, yes, He did. “So if God could create all these things by His own power,” I’d continue, “How much easier is it for Him to take something like bread and wine and turn them into his own flesh and blood?”

That seemed to make sense to them.

“Boys and girls,” I would conclude, “remember this and you will carry in yourself the greatest treasure of the world, and you’ll be richer than any king, or president, or movie star.”

How they would be listening now.

“You can only find the true Body and Blood of Jesus in the Catholic Church, or a church descended from the Apostles. You can look all around the world, but you will not find anyone else who even claims to give you the true Body and Blood of the Lord. So stay Catholic, live Catholic, love Catholic, and you will be happy here on earth, and prepared to enter heaven.”

As the International 51st Eucharistic Congress opens in Cebu, this is a message for everyone here to take to heart, and to bring back home.

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