June: Journey to the Living, Beating Heart of the Catholic Faith

June offers a unique opportunity to journey into the heart of Catholic devotion, and quite literally, to the physical Heart of Jesus, beginning with the Feast of Corpus Christi on June 16. 

Corpus Christi has its roots in the fervent Eucharistic devotion of a 13th century Belgian saint, Julianna of Cornillon. She had a vision of Jesus requesting a special feast to increase devotion to His presence in the Blessed Sacrament.  She reported her vision to Archdeacon Jacques Panteleon and in 1246 the Bishop of Liege, Belgium, established the feast of the Blessed Sacrament. 

Fourteen years later an Italian priest, who suffered doubts about the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, celebrated mass. At the moment of consecration, as the host was elevated, it began to bleed. Many witnessed this. The priest wrapped the bleeding host in corporals and brought the host and corporals to the Bishop at Orvieto.

Providentially, the bishop brought this matter to the attention of Pope Urban IV, formerly Archdeacon Jacques Panteleon, to whom St. Julianna had initially confided her vision.

 The miracle was affirmed, and the host and corporals remain in Orvieto for veneration to this day. In 1264 Pope Urban IV established the feast of Corpus Christi for the universal Church.  

Sadly, a 2019 Pew Research Center survey found that most self-described Catholics don’t believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

  • Close to seven-in-ten Catholics (69%) say that during Catholic Mass, the bread and wine used in Communion are symbols of the body and blood of Jesus Christ.”
  • Just one-third of U.S. Catholics (31%) say they believe that “during Catholic Mass, the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Jesus.”

It seems that once again, as in the 13th century, Heaven is responding to this growing ignorance among Catholics.  Between 1992 and 2013 a series of miracles associated with the Eucharist were reported from Buenos Aires to Poland.  In each of these cases, consecrated communion hosts turned into fleshy and bloody substances. 

Using Modern Science to Study the Phenomena

The previously consecrated communion wafers were studied by a series of doctors and scientists.  In a number of these cases, doctors were not told the source of the material, to further aid objectivity.

Here’s what they discovered:  

  • The blood is human, AB blood type; human DNA was found… in one case, the blood clearly emanated from within, because the blood on the surface had begun to coagulate but the interior blood was still fresh, as with a bleeding wound.
  • The flesh is human myocardium tissue of the left ventricle of an inflamed heart; in the miracles from Argentina and Poland, there was evidence of trauma from the presence of thrombi, indicating repeated lack of oxygen; lesions present showed rapid cardiac spasms typical in the final phases of death. 
  • In the Sokolka miracle, the remaining host is tightly interconnected with the fibers of human tissue, penetrating each other inseparably – as if the bread were transforming into flesh. “Even NASA scientists, who have at their disposal the most modern analytical techniques, would not be able to artificially recreate such a thing,” affirmed Dr. Sobaniec-Lotowska, one of the examining experts.

With this understanding of the Eucharist as the traumatized heart tissue of our crucified Lord, we enter an even deeper appreciation for the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, celebrated June 24.

Devotion to the Sacred Heart presents the heart of Jesus encircled by thorns, crowned with the cross, and burning with love for the human family. This devotion dates back to the 11th century. 

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque had multiple visions of Jesus and the Sacred Heart between 1673 and 1675.  Jesus shared 12 promises with St. Margaret Mary for those who honor the Sacred Heart. A few of these promises are particularly relevant in our day:  Special graces for family peace and healing; comfort in times of trial, and most importantly, Jesus promised “sinners will find in My Heart, an infinite ocean of mercy.”

The Heart of Healing: Restoring Trust after Abuse and Trauma

The scientific research with Eucharistic miracles reveals a powerful connection between the Sacred Heart of Jesus devotion and the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist:

Jesus wants to, quite literally, share his heart with us in intimate communion.

But those who have experienced abortion and other abuse can struggle to process their experiences, to grieve or to trust others.  This can impact their relationship with God, and the ability to receive the love, mercy and healing that emanate from the heart of Jesus.

Thankfully, healing programs are available that incorporate psychological treatments with special Scripture meditations and the sacraments of the church. The emotional and spiritual healing process safely opens the heart and soul so participants can work through those painful events and come to see they are not alone. Light begins to shine where there was darkness. As the healing progresses, the heart softens, and is open to receive God’s forgiveness, healing and mercy.

May the great feasts and devotions of this holy month draw you closer to the merciful Heart of Christ Jesus.

Photo by Jonathan Dick, OSFS on Unsplash

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Kevin and Theresa Burke are Founders of Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries for healing after abortion and are Pastoral Associates of Priests for Life.   Kevin and Theresa are the authors of many books and articles on healing the wounds of abortion and other traumatic loss.  They recently released their latest book with Fr Frank Pavone, Rivers of Blood/Oceans of Mercy

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