This week Roman Catholics of the world rejoiced to hear of yet another eucharistic miracle that has been approved for veneration. In December 2013, a eucharistic wafer of bread was dropped during mass, “and red stains subsequently appeared on the Host.” Tests performed on the wafer at the Department of Forensic Medicine in Wroclaw the Department of Forensic Medicine of the Pomeranian Medical University in Szczecin, indicated that the wafer contained “fragmented parts of the cross striated muscle. It is most similar to the heart muscle. Tests also determined the tissue to be of human origin, and found that it bore signs of distress” (Catholic Herald, April 19, 2016). The forensic authentication of the miracle has Roman Catholics asking questions about its significance to faith and practice, and no doubt has some Protestants asking themselves if they are in the right religion. Those, of course, are the wrong questions.
Roman Catholic blogger, Philip Kosloski reported on the miracle in the National Catholic Register under the heading, “What is God Trying to Tell Us With This New Eucharistic Miracle in Poland?” Naturally, he concludes that God is trying to tell us to take care of the eucharistic wafer which is alleged to be His Son.
The eucharistic miracle occurred after the wafer was dropped, which raises to Kosloski the question of why the paten was not used during Mass. The paten is a plate used during communion to catch any wafers or crumbs that might fall during the service, and Kosloski notes that if the paten had been used as prescribed by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacrament, the wafer never would have been dropped in the first place. Since in eucharistic calculus the part is equal to the sum of the whole, to drop even a crumb of the wafer is to drop the whole “Jesus.” Perhaps, Kosloski observes, God is telling us to use the paten so “His Son” does not get hurt:
“We shouldn’t abandon the use of patens at Mass because it seems ‘outdated.’ The reason why we use patens at Mass is because of our love of God!
Why do we hold our children with utmost care, making sure we don’t drop them? Why shouldn’t we have the same care for the Eucharistic Host at Mass that is Christ the Lord! What we hold in our hands is not just bread!
Maybe this miracle came at the right time in our world, when many Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence of Christ and during an era in the Church where the Eucharist is not cared for properly. The heart tissue [that was] found ‘bore signs of distress’ and maybe it was to show us Christ’s hurt when we do not take care of Him.”
We, on the other hand, are pleased to report that Jesus is not hurt when a crumb drops, His heart tissue is not stressed when the bread is broken, and He feels no pain when wafers hit the floor—not only because the wafer and the crumbs are not Jesus, but also because Jesus’ flesh is not perpetually slain in Heaven. All the Scriptural evidence declares that Jesus’ slaying is in the past and “It is finished”:
“…It is finished…” (John 19:30)
“…and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain…” (Revelation 5:6)
“…for thou wast slain…” (Revelation 5:9)
“…Worthy is the Lamb that was slain…” (Revelation 5:12)
Nevertheless, Roman Catholics continue to rejoice in the news of eucharistic miracles, since such miracles lend tremendous credence to claims of transubstantiation. The eucharistic miracles are alleged to be proof of Jesus’ “real presence” in the eucharist, and those miracles largely tend to manifest in two ways: with bleeding hosts, with speaking hosts, or both. The history of bleeding hosts is well documented, and the Polish miracle is just the latest example. Speaking hosts are also well documented.
According to Joan Carroll Cruz, author of Eucharistic Miracles and Eucharistic Phenomena in the Lives of the Saints, “Many saints have had the privilege of hearing the voice of Jesus speaking from consecrated Hosts” (Cruz, Joan Carroll, Eucharistic Miracles and Eucharistic Phenomena in the Lives of the Saints,(Charlotte, NC: TAN Books, ©1991) 249). One recent manifestation of the speaking host occurred in Guadalajara, Mexico in 2013, as reported by the Catholic News Agency:
“The pastor of Mary Mother of the Church, Father Jose Dolores Castellanos Gudino, said that on July 24, while he was kneeling in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, he saw a flash of light and heard a voice.
‘Ring the bells so that everyone comes,’ the voice allegedly instructed. ‘I will pour blessings upon those present and the entire day. Take your small tabernacle for private adoration to the parish altar and put the large monstrance next to the small tabernacle. Don’t open the tabernacle until three in the afternoon, not before.’ ” (Catholic News Agency, Mexico archdiocese investigating possible Eucharistic miracle, August 2, 2013)
Such miracles as bleeding and speaking hosts often bolster the faith of Roman Catholics, and renew their devotion to the eucharist. They also impel professing evangelical Protestants to consider converting to Roman Catholicism. Such is the case of Russell Stutler, who was raised as a non-denominational evangelical Protestant, then became Anglican, and finally converted to Roman Catholicism. In his testimony, Why did I become a Catholic?, he explains that his conversion was in no small part due to the history of eucharistic miracles:
“If the Eucharist is what the Church says it is, and that Jesus is really present, then it should not be surprising to hear of miracles associated with the Eucharist. A lot of those miracles involved priests who did not believe the bread and wine really became the body and blood of Jesus, so God showed them the truth in very graphic way…” (Russ Stutler, Why did I become a Catholic)
The intended effect of eucharistic miracles is certainly met in the renewed eucharistic devotion of Roman Catholics and the piqued eucharistic curiosity of Protestants. What is God telling us in the eucharistic miracles? Should we show more care for the wafer, knowing that each little crumb is the “Son of God,” “Christ the Lord,” the creator and sustainer of the universe? Should we kneel more reverently, and adore more frequently before the whole “sacred Host,” as well as each of its parts? Should Protestants repent of their unbelief and bow before this wafer that maintains the whole universe by the power of its word, saved the world on the cross and still suffers for our sins?
Of course not. Those are all the wrong questions.
The correct question is, “What did Jesus mean in Revelation 13:15 when he warned us that the image of the beast would come to life and speak and cause people to be put to death?”
“And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.” (Revelation 13:15)
The Scripture says “the life of the flesh is in the blood” (Leviticus 17:11), and eucharistic miracles often involve a substance that when tested is shown to be human blood. As noted above, many eucharistic miracles involve a voice emanating from the eucharist. We note further that eucharistic miracles have been the cause of the murders of many Christians in history, as evidence by the 1228 eucharistic miracle in Alatri, Italy. Pope Gregory IX interpreted the miracle “as a sign against the widespread heresies regarding the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist” (Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association, Eucharistic Miracle in Alatri, Italy) and instigated the Papal Inquisition two years later.
We note as well that there are only three things in Scripture that can yield a mark on the hand and forehead: redemption of the firstborn (Exodus 13:12-16), teaching God’s word to our children (Deuteronomy 6:6-8, 11:18), and the use of unleavened bread:
“…And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes…” (Exodus 13:6-9).
Only one of those three can be fashioned into an idol to be worshiped: unleavened bread. Thus, Jesus’ warning to us: “And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads” (Revelation 13:16). The Image of the Beast is made of unleavened bread.
Those who have followed this blog for some time will recall that we believe Papal Roman Catholicism to be the Beast of Revelation 13:1-2, that the Apparition of Mary is the False Prophet of Revelation 13:11, and that the Roman Catholic eucharist is the Image of the Beast in Revelation 13:12-13. Those who wish to read more on this topic may refer to our articles:
We of course believe, therefore, that the eucharistic miracles should be interpreted in the context of Scripture. We were warned that the Beast and his False Prophet would erect an Image that would come to life and be able to speak and cause people to be put to death, and place a mark in the worshiper’s hand or forehead. Therefore, be so warned. The god of Roman Catholicism is a wafer of bread, nothing more, and since the part is equal to the sum of the whole, the Roman Catholic would as soon worship a crumb as if it were God Himself. But it is a bread-god, fashioned by the hands of men, and is not to be worshiped, adored or carried about in procession.
Our God, of course, needs neither to be fashioned into an image by the hands of men, nor carried about for worship. We find it interesting to note that with one exception in all of Scriptures, images are portrayed as dead and mute:
“They lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver in the balance, and hire a goldsmith; and he maketh it a god: they fall down, yea, they worship. They bear him upon the shoulder, they carry him, and set him in his place, and he standeth; from his place shall he not remove: yea, one shall cry unto him, yet can he not answer, nor save him out of his trouble” (Isaiah 46:6-7).
“For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.” (Acts 17:28-29)
All these images have one thing in common: they cannot save. The bread-god, nay, the crumb-god of Roman Catholicism, prophesied in Revelation 13, is the Scriptural exception to the rule of dead, mute gods. It comes to life and can speak. But it is unexceptional in this: it still cannot save.
Roman Catholics will of course object to that characterization, responding with indignation and accusations of insensitivity and bigotry for calling their god precisely what Jesus, Paul, the disciples and the apostolic church all called it: “bread” (John 13:18, Luke 24:35, 1 Corinthians 11:26, Acts 2:42)—as if calling their papal religion “the Beast,” and calling their favored apparition “the False Prophet,” and calling their eucharistic god “the Image of the Beast,” were all lesser offenses!
In response to their cry of indignation we borrow a summary dismissal from C. H. Spurgeon, who knew well how to turn such criticism back on the critics: “Of course, we shall be howled at as bigots, but we can afford to smile at that cry, when it comes from the church which invented the Inquisition,” an inquisition that was expressly targeted against those who would not bow to the bread idol (Spurgeon, “The Religion of Rome,” Sword and Trowel, 1873). Well played, Charles Haddon.
We will neither adore it, nor kneel to it, nor bow to it, nor revere it, nor respect it, nor even cease from our daily conversation as it passes nearby in procession or as you elevate it publicly in your idolatrous eucharistic flash mobs; nor shall we grant to the idolater the prerogative of dictating the terms of polite conversation about his antichrist idol. It is a bread god, a wafer god, a crumb god, nothing more, and we will call it just as it is. Roman Catholics have many times objected, and have as often demanded that we show some respect and stop calling it that.
And that is the proper response to Eucharistic miracles.