Here is an incident that has been reported in the newsletter named “Garabandal Journal” dated January/February 2007.
It was the year 1995 in the month of October.
Pope St John Paul II, on the evening of the last day of his visit to the United States, was scheduled to make a passing visit at St Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore.
The timetable of the day had been so tight and hectic that the plan was to simply greet the seminarians, as they stood outside the seminary, on the steps.
But on reaching the seminary, the Saintly Pope expressed an unplanned desire: to make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament in the Seminary Chapel.
This act of the Pope took all by surprise!
The security personnel quickly flew into action.
>>A quick sweeping of the securities in the building was done with extra attention paid to the Chapel where the Holy Father would be praying – to see if anything untoward was there or if any human presence was there.
For this purpose, highly trained dogs were engaged, which would detect any human presence.
These dogs had been trained to locate living people especially in crushed buildings after earthquakes and other disasters.
These clever and intelligent canines quickly made through their rounds in the various portions of the buildings – halls, offices, classrooms.
Finally, they were sent to the Chapel.
They went along the aisles and passed the pews and finally into the portion of the Chapel where the Blessed Sacrament was reserved.
On reaching the tabernacle, the dogs sniffed and whined and growled loudly!
They refused to leave that place!
>> They seem convinced that they had discovered Someone there and remained firmly in that place, refusing to leave!
The dogs were indeed right, isn’t it?
Our Catholic Faith firmly tells us that in the Blessed Sacrament is the Living Person – Jesus Christ!
((There could be perhaps objections raised as to how could the dogs “sniff” the Living Presence when the Catholic Teaching is that the ‘accidents’ of bread i.e. the external aspects do not change, and only the ‘substance’ of the matter changes in the Eucharist.
But the fact that this incident occurred also needs to be explained!
>> Perhaps this needs to be considered as a “miraculous” event whereby the Real Presence of the Lord was also detected ‘physically’
>> Perhaps, the dogs, though lower in reason, were ‘miraculously’ blessed with the knowledge of their Creator and Maker
>> Perhaps, just as human beings need not always have an external sensory experience to know the presence of another human being, these dogs also, at that moment, had a sort of an ‘intuitive’ feeling of the Presence))
In the light of this incident – whether we believe it to be true or not, whether we consider it to be authentic or not – it is good to examine and ask ourselves:
What is the strength of our faith and the weight of our belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist?
The Gospel of the Day beautifully presents the teachings of Jesus on He being the Bread of Life and makes a radical challenge to our faith and belief in His Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist.
Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you…
… For My Flesh is food indeed and my blood is drink indeed” ( Jn 6: 53-54)
These were very powerful and shocking words from Jesus!
When we go through the “feelings dimension” in the words of Jesus in the 6th Chapter of Gospel of John, we find a progressive growth in the intensity.
· Jn 6: 1-15: In the multiplication of the loaves…
… Jesus has a tone of compassion, of glory and of gratitude
>> “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?”
· Jn 6: 16- 21: In the incident of the walking on water…
… Jesus has a tone of assurance and of authority
>> “It is I. Do not be afraid”
· Jn 6: 22-41: In the Introduction to the Bread of Life discourse…
… Jesus has a tone which evokes further thought and food for consideration
>> “I am the bread that came down from heaven”
· Jn 6: 42 – 52: In the further explanation of the Bread of Life discourse….
… Jesus has a tone of emphasis and slowly causes people to feel offensive and uncomfortable
>> “.. the bread that I will give is my flesh…”
· Jn 6: 52 – 58: In the clarification to His Words on the Bread of Life Discourse…
… Jesus has a tone that provokes shock and even induces disbelief and disapproval
>> “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood… For my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink”
As the teaching on the Bread of Life progresses, the tone changes from a mild and serene nature to a shocking and challenging one!
We notice five progressive levels here:
1. A tone of compassion – that makes people to feel good
2. A tone of assurance – that makes people to feel more secure
3. A tone of introspection – that makes people to think deeper
4. A tone of discomfort – that makes people to be at the crossroads
5. A tone of shock – that makes people to make radical decisions
And this progression is what made the Jews to question in astonishment and bewilderment: “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?” ( Jn 6:52)
Today, the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist challenges us – a challenge to move progressively, through higher levels of faith and trust, in knowing Him
· In our faith-life, initially, we may be content to just have Him as the One who satisfies us
>> We feel good and encouraged
· Then, we are happy to be knowing Him and basking in the comfort of His graces
>> We feel secure and wish to remain in this contentment.
· A little later, we are made to reflect a little deeper on the perspectives of our life
>> We feel introspected and consider the level of our relationship
· As the relation progresses, we are made to feel discomforted since there arises some challenges to our way of thinking
>> We feel challenged and go deeper into finding the priorities of our life
· Finally, we are provoked into making radical decisions in life and called to have a commitment in life
>> We feel the need to make a radical choice and to remain firm and sturdy in that dedication.
At what level of faith and trust are we in?
· Can we let go of the factors – sinful acts, prejudiced mindsets, lethargic feelings – which prevents us from making a progression to the higher level?
Jesus – truly, really and substantially – present in the Holy Eucharist invites and challenges us to grow deeper in our faith in Him.
Shall we positively respond to this loving longing of the Lord?
May the words of St Angela of Foligno inspire us:
“If we but paused for a moment to consider attentively what takes place in this Sacrament…
… I am sure that the thought of Christ’s love for us would transform the coldness of our hearts into a fire of love and gratitude.”
God Bless! Live Jesus!