Friday, March 29, 2013

Eucharistic Miracle in Buenos Aires 1996


Eucharistic Miracle in Buenos Aires

A consecrated Host becomes flesh and blood

At seven o’clock in the evening on August 18, 1996, Fr. Alejandro Pezet was saying Holy Mass at a Catholic church in the commercial center of Buenos Aires. As he was finishing distributing Holy Communion, a woman came up to tell him that she had found a discarded host on a candleholder at the back of the church. On going to the spot indicated, Fr. Alejandro saw the defiled Host. Since he was unable to consume it, he placed it in a container of water and put it away in the tabernacle of the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament.
On Monday, August 26, upon opening the tabernacle, he saw to his amazement that the Host had turned into a bloody substance. He informed Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, who gave instructions that the Host be professionally photographed. The photos were taken on September 6. They clearly show that the Host, which had become a fragment of bloodied flesh, had grown significantly in size. For several years the Host remained in the tabernacle, the whole affair being kept a strict secret. Since the Host suffered no visible decomposition, Cardinal Bergoglio decided to have it scientifically analyzed.
On October 5, 1999, in the presence of the Cardinal’s representatives, Dr. Castanon took a sample of the bloody fragment and sent it to New York for analysis. Since he did not wish to prejudice the study, he purposely did not inform the team of scientists of its provenance. One of these scientists was Dr. Frederic Zugiba, the well-known cardiologist and forensic pathologist. He determined that the analyzed substance was real flesh and blood containing human DNA. Zugiba testified that, “the analyzed material is a fragment of the heart muscle found in the wall of the left ventricle close to the valves. This muscle is responsible for the contraction of the heart. It should be borne in mind that the left cardiac ventricle pumps blood to all parts of the body. The heart muscle is in an inflammatory condition and contains a large number of white blood cells. This indicates that the heart was alive at the time the sample was taken. It is my contention that the heart was alive, since white blood cells die outside a living organism. They require a living organism to sustain them. Thus, their presence indicates that the heart was alive when the sample was taken. What is more, these white blood cells had penetrated the tissue, which further indicates that the heart had been under severe stress, as if the owner had been beaten severely about the chest.”
Two Australians, journalist Mike Willesee and lawyer Ron Tesoriero, witnessed these tests. Knowing where sample had come from, they were dumbfounded by Dr. Zugiba’s testimony. Mike Willesee asked the scientist how long the white blood cells would have remained alive if they had come from a piece of human tissue, which had been kept in water. They would have ceased to exist in a matter of minutes, Dr. Zugiba replied. The journalist then told the doctor that the source of the sample had first been kept in ordinary water for a month and then for another three years in a container of distilled water; only then had the sample been taken for analysis. Dr. Zugiba’s was at a loss to account for this fact. There was no way of explaining it scientifically, he stated. Only then did Mike Willesee inform Dr. Zugiba that the analyzed sample came from a consecrated Host (white, unleavened bread) that had mysteriously turned into bloody human flesh. Amazed by this information, Dr. Zugiba replied, “How and why a consecrated Host would change its character and become living human flesh and blood will remain an inexplicable mystery to science—a mystery totally beyond her competence.”
Only faith in the extraordinary action of a God provides the reasonable answer—faith in a God, who wants to make us aware that He is truly present in the mystery of the Eucharist.
The Eucharistic miracle in Buenos Aires is an extraordinary sign attested to by science. Through it Jesus desires to arouse in us a lively faith in His real presence in the Eucharist. He reminds us that His presence is real, and not symbolic. Only with the eyes of faith do we see Him under appearance of the consecrated bread and wine. We do not see Him with our bodily eyes, since He is present in His glorified humanity. In the Eucharist Jesus sees and loves us and desires to save us.
In collaboration with Ron Tesoriero, Mike Willesee, one of Australia’s best-known journalists (he converted to Catholicism after working on the documents of another Eucharistic miracle) wrote a book entitled Reason to Believe. In it they present documented facts of Eucharistic miracles and other signs calling people to faith in Christ who abides and teaches in the Catholic Church. They have also made a documentary film on the Eucharist—based largely on the scientific discoveries associated with the miraculous Host in Buenos Aires. Their aim was to give a clear presentation of the Catholic Church’s teaching on the subject of the Eucharist. They screened the film in numerous Australian cities. The showing at Adelaide drew a crowd of two thousand viewers. During the commentary and question period that followed a visibly moved man stood up announcing that he was blind. Having learned that this was an exceptional film, he had very much wanted to see it. Just before the screening, he prayed fervently to Jesus for the grace to see the film. At once his sight was restored to him, but only for the thirty-minute duration of the film. Upon its conclusion, he again lost the ability to see. He confirmed this by describing in minute detail certain scenes of the film. It was an incredible event that moved those present to the core of their being.
Through such wondrous signs God calls souls to conversion. If Jesus causes the Host to become visible flesh and blood, a muscle that is responsible for the contraction of a human heart—a heart that suffers like that of someone who has been beaten severely about the chest, if He does such things, it is in order to arouse and quicken our faith in His real presence in the Eucharist. He thus enables us to see that Holy Mass is a re-presentation (i.e. a making present) of the entire drama of our salvation: Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection. Jesus says to his disciples, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe” (Jn 4: 48). There is no need to actively seek out wondrous signs. But if Jesus chooses to give them to us, then it behooves us to accept them with meekness and seek to understand what He desires to tell us by them. Thanks to these signs, many people have discovered faith in God—the One God in the Holy Trinity, who reveals His Son to us: Jesus Christ, who abides in the sacraments and teaches us through Holy Scripture and the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.

A mystery that surpasses our understanding
 The Eucharist—the actual presence of the risen person of Jesus under the appearances of bread and wine—is one of the most important and most difficult truths revealed to us by Christ. Eucharistic miracles are merely visible confirmations of what He tells us about Himself; namely, that He really does give us His glorified body and blood as spiritual food and drink.
Jesus established the Eucharist on the eve of His passion, death, and resurrection. During the Last Supper, He “took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, gave thanks,and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins’” (Mat 26: 26-28). When Jesus took and gave the apostles the bread and wine, He said, “this is my body….this is my blood” by which He clearly meant that the bread and wine which He gave them to eat and drink really was His body and blood, and not some sort of symbol.
Earlier, in the famous Eucharistic sermon recorded by St. John the Evangelist, Jesus said to the Jews: “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him” (Jn 6: 53-56). Shocked by Jesus’ words, the Jews said, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” (Jn 6: 52). Many of Jesus’ disciples were also scandalized. “This saying is hard,” they objected, “who can accept it?” Knowing that the truth of the Eucharist was a shock and a scandal to many of His listeners, Jesus responded not by retracting His words, but by raising the stakes: “Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life”” (Jn 6: 62-63). Here Jesus goes to the heart of the mystery by anticipating the glorification of His humanity through His death, resurrection, and ascension. He will give His flesh and blood as food and drink after the Ascension; that is, when His flesh and blood have been glorified and divinized, for, unglorified, “flesh” is indeed “of no avail.”
Not all Jesus’ listeners accepted His teaching of the Eucharist. Thus He turned to them, saying, “‘But there are some of you who do not believe.’ Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him” (Jn 6: 65). Judas’ betrayal began with his rejection of Jesus’ teaching about His real presence in the Eucharist. In confirmation of this fact, Jesus said, “‘Did I not choose you twelve? Yet is not one of you a devil?’ He was referring to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot; it was he who would betray him, one of the Twelve” (Jn 6: 70-71).
The Eucharist is the Risen Jesus Himself in His glorified, and thus invisible, humanity. This is the essence of His teaching of the Eucharist (Jn 6: 62-63). By its death and resurrection, the humanity of Jesus takes on a divine nature; it assumes a new order of existence: “For in him dwells the whole fullness of the deity, bodily” (Col 2: 9). In His glorified humanity, the Risen Jesus, becoming omnipresent, gives of Himself in the gift of the Eucharist. He shares with us His resurrected life and love that we may even here on earth experience the reality of heaven and partake of the life of the Holy Trinity.
Confronting the mystery of the Eucharist, human reason feels its impotence and limitations. In his encyclical devoted this sacrament, John Paul II writes: “‘The consecration of the bread and wine effects the change of the whole substance of the bead into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord, and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. And the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called this change transubstantiation.’ Truly the Eucharist is a mysterium fidei, a mystery which surpasses our understanding and can only be received in faith, as is often brought out in the catechesis of the Church Fathers regarding this divine sacrament: ‘Do not see—Saint Cyril of Jerusalem exhorts—in the bread and wine merely natural elements, because the Lord has expressly said that they are his body and his blood: faith assures you of this, though your senses suggest otherwise’” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 15).
The Eucharist is Christ’s supreme gift and miracle, for in it He gives us Himself and engages us in His work of salvation. He enables us to participate in His victory over death, sin, and Satan, share in the divine nature, and partake of the life of the Holy Trinity. In the Eucharist we receive “the medicine of immortality, the antidote to death” (EE, 18). For this reason, Mother Church holds that every deliberate and freely willed absence from Holy Mass on Sunday is an irretrievable spiritual loss, a sign of loss of faith, and hence a serious sin. Let us also remember that if “a Christian’s conscience is burdened by serious sin, then the path of penance through the sacrament of Reconciliation becomes necessary for full participation in the Eucharistic Sacrifice” (EE, 37). 

Fr. M. Piotrowski SChr

Thursday, March 28, 2013

In God's Company 2: Only one single Mass per year

In God's Company 2: Only one single Mass per year:   Pictured:  Fr. Edward Sousa Jr.
Only one single Mass per year
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-OY4ndNX86ts/T5Hx4EQ0WSI/AAAAAAAAEXk/9KIsKlugoV4/s1600/Fr.+Sousa+5.jpg
Pictured:  Fr. Edward Sousa Jr.

One single mass per year?

  Many are still unaware of a magnificent and astonishing element in Medjugorje’s history. It is a joy for me to share this with you today, because it is directly linked to Divine Mercy Sunday! 

The Turks ruled the country for more than four centuries (1463-1873). Now during this period of time, the Christians were submitted to terrible persecution and forced to convert to Islam. In fact, according to the Papal visitor Peter Masarecchi, by 1624 40-50,000 Croat Catholics were forced to convert to Islam in the central part of Bosnia. (This explains the presence of Muslims in the country, who are in fact “ex-Christians” according to their roots).

The government at that time did not allow Catholics to celebrate the Mass, so a sort of secret Christian life grew that was similar to the secret life of the first Christians who celebrated Mass in the Catacombs of Rome, (also similar to the lives of Christians in modern day China). The Bosnian government did however make one concession: Christians were granted permission to celebrate one Mass per year, only one, in a predetermined place, in the middle of nowhere, far from any city. The date of this Mass was predetermined too - the first Sunday after Easter, the same date that Jesus would later choose as the Feast of the Divine Mercy, according to the revelations of Saint Faustina Kowalska. The Christians, who were so fervent in this era, did not hesitate to go by foot to this chosen place in their thousands, walking for days and through the night in all weather facing dangers along the way, in order to be able to live this Mass and “see Jesus” present in the host at least once in the year. This pilgrimage was, for them, the source of their strength, their hope, their joy, and their light in the night of persecution.

We know that there is method in God’s ideas! We will only see in Heaven, the whole tapestry that he weaves in the world in his Divine Providence, and how strongly we are connected to one another through the communion of Saints! Only then will we discover how certain events, which appear to be new to us, are in fact deeply rooted in the past, in the heart of several generations of believers who have prayed and paid the price, who have even spilled their blood for their faith. It happens that sometimes God reveals a little of his mysterious designs and illuminates a surprising continuity in His choices.

So this place, blessed by the annual mass for these thousands of suffering Christians, was none other than the rocky countryside of Medjugorje, in the exact spot where the cemetery of Kovacica is now, (where Father Slavko is buried)!! It is found just a few meters away from St James, where thousands of pilgrims gather again today!
No wonder then to see rivers of graces flowing on this village! Isn't our God truly Amazing?    source- Children of Medjugorje 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Is Christopher Still a Saint?

Is Christopher Still a Saint?


Is Christopher Still a Saint?

FR. WILLIAM SAUNDERS

Whatever happened to St. Christopher? Is he still a saint?

 Yes, St. Christopher is still a saint. Tradition holds that he died at Lycia on the southern coast of Asia Minor about the year 251. Various legends surround his life. The most popular is that he was a rather ugly, giant man, born to a heathen king who was married to a Christian, who had prayed to the Blessed Mother for a child. Originally named “Offerus,” he carried people across the river for his livelihood. (Another source stated that he was named “Reprobus” prior to his baptism, and then changed his name.)
He converted from paganism through the teaching of a hermit, named “Babylas.” Christopher believed that our Lord was the most powerful of all, more powerful than any man and the one whom even Satan feared.
Again according to legend, one day one of his passengers to cross the river was a small child. As they proceeded, the child kept growing heavier, and Christopher feared that they would drown. The child then revealed Himself as Jesus, and the heaviness was due to the weight of the world that He carried on His shoulders.
According to the Roman Martyrology, he suffered martyrdom during the persecution of Emperor Decius by being shot with arrows after surviving burning.
The name “Christopher” means “Christ bearer.” He is the patron saint of travelers, especially those driving cars. His popularity increased during the Middle Ages. However, evidence attests to widespread devotion even prior to this time: St. Remigius of Rheims was buried in 532 in a church dedicated to St. Christopher; Pope St. Gregory the Great (d. 604) mentioned in his letters a monastery dedicated to this saint; and the Mozarabic Breviary and Missal of St. Isidore of Seville (d. 636) has a special office dedicated to him.
Moreover, medals of St. Christopher and car medallions or pins are still manufactured and used by the faithful. St. Christopher’s feast day is still July 25, and the proper of the Mass in his honor is found in the 1962 edition of the Roman Missal still authorized for the Tridentine Mass.
The confusion over whether St. Christopher is still a saint arose when Pope Paul VI revised the Liturgical Calendar, which includes the feast days of saints that are commemorated at Mass. Due to the proliferation of the number of feast days over the centuries, the Second Vatican Council in its “Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy” proposed, “Lest the feasts of the saints should take precedence over the feasts which commemorate the very mysteries of salvation, many of them should be left to be celebrated by a particular Church, or nation, or family of religious. Only those should be extended to the universal Church which commemorate saints who are truly of universal importance” (No. 111). With this in mind, a special commission — “Consilium” — examined the calendar and removed those saints whose historical base was more grounded on tradition than provable fact, changed the feast days to coincide with the anniversary of a saint’s death or martyrdom whenever possible and added saints that were recently canonized and had universal Church appeal. Moreover, local conferences of bishops could add to the universal calendar those saints important to the faithful in their own country. In no way did the Church “de-canonize” St. Christopher or anyone else, despite the lack of historical evidence surrounding their lives. St. Christopher is still worthy of our devotion and prayers, and each of us should be mindful that he too is called to be a “bearer of Christ.”


ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
Saunders, Rev. William. "Is Christopher Still a Saint?" Arlington Catholic Herald.
This article is reprinted with permission from Arlington Catholic Herald.
THE AUTHOR
Father William Saunders is dean of the Notre Dame Graduate School of Christendom College and pastor of Our Lady of Hope Parish in Sterling, Virginia. The above article is a "Straight Answers" column he wrote for the Arlington Catholic Herald. Father Saunders is also the author of Straight Answers, a book based on 100 of his columns and published by Cathedral Press in Baltimore.
Copyright © 2003 Arlington Catholic Herald 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

In God's Company 2: Eucharistic Healing Service--Fr. Jose Maniyangat

In God's Company 2: Eucharistic Healing Service--Fr. Jose Maniyangat:

Eucharistic Healing Service--Fr. Jose Maniyangat

A priest who saw heaven, hell, and purgatory
The death experience of Father Jose Maniyangat 

Fr. Jose Maniyangat is currently the pastor of St. Mary’s Mother of Mercy Catholic Church in Macclenny, Florida. Here is his personal testimony: 

I was born on July 16, 1949 in Kerala, India to my parents, Joseph and Theresa Maniyangat. I am the eldest of seven children: Jose, Mary, Theresa, Lissama, Zachariah, Valsa and Tom. 

At the age of fourteen, I entered St. Mary’s Minor Seminary in Thiruvalla to begin my studies for the priesthood. Four years later, I went to St. Joseph’s Pontifical Major Seminary in Alwaye, Kerala to continue my priestly formation. After completing the seven years of philosophy and theology, I was ordained a priest on January 1, 1975 to serve as a missionary in the Diocese of Thiruvalla. 

On Sunday April 14, 1985, the Feast of the Divine Mercy, I was going to celebrate Mass at a mission church in the north part of Kerala, and I had a fatal accident. I was riding a motorcycle when I was hit head-on by a jeep driven by a man who was intoxicated after a Hindu festival. I was rushed to a hospital about 35 miles away. On the way, my soul came out from my body and I experienced death. Immediately, I met my Guardian Angel. I saw my body and the people who were carrying me to the hospital. I heard them crying and praying for me. At this time my angel told me: “I am going to take you to Heaven, the Lord wants to meet you and talk with you.” He also said that, on the way, he wanted to show me hell and purgatory. 

Hell 

First, the angel escorted me to hell. It was an awful sight! I saw Satan and the devils, an unquenchable fire of about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, worms crawling, people screaming and fighting, others being tortured by demons. The angel told me that all these sufferings were due to unrepented mortal sins. Then, I understood that there are seven degrees of suffering or levels according to the number and kinds of mortal sins committed in their earthly lives. The souls looked very ugly, cruel and horrific. It was a fearful experience. I saw people whom I knew, but I am not allowed to reveal their identities. The sins that convicted them were mainly abortion, homosexuality, euthanasia, hatefulness, unforgiveness and sacrilege. The angel told me that if they had repented, they would have avoided hell and gone instead to purgatory. I also understood that some people who repent from these sins might be purified on earth through their sufferings. This way they can avoid purgatory and go straight to heaven. 

I was surprised when I saw in hell even priests and Bishops, some of whom I never expected to see. Many of them were there because they had misled the people with false teaching and bad example. 

Purgatory 
After the visit to hell, my Guardian Angel escorted me to purgatory. Here too, there are seven degrees of suffering and unquenchable fire. But it is far less intense than hell and there was neither quarreling nor fighting. The main suffering of these souls is their separation from God. Some of those who are in purgatory committed numerous mortal sins, but they were reconciled with God before their death. Even though these souls are suffering, they enjoy peace and the knowledge that one day they will see God face to face. 

I had a chance to communicate with the souls in purgatory. They asked me to pray for them and to tell the people to pray for them as well, so they can go to heaven quickly. When we pray for these souls, we will receive their gratitude through their prayers, and once they enter heaven, their prayers become even more meritorious. 

It is difficult for me to describe how beautiful my Guardian Angel is. He is radiant and bright. He is my constant companion and helps me in all my ministries, especially my healing ministry. I experience his presence everywhere I go and I am grateful for his protection in my daily life. 

Heaven 
Next, my angel escorted me to heaven passing through a big dazzling white tunnel. I never experienced this much peace and joy in my life. Then immediately heaven opened up and I heard the most delightful music, which I never heard before. The angels were singing and praising God. I saw all the saints, especially the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph, and many dedicated holy Bishops and priests who were shining like stars. And when I appeared before the Lord, Jesus told me: “I want you to go back to the world. In your second life, you will be an instrument of peace and healing to My people. You will walk in a foreign land and you will speak in a foreign tongue. Everything is possible for you with My grace.” After these words, the Blessed Mother told me: “Do whatever He tells you. I will help you in your ministries.” 

Words can not express the beauty of heaven. There we find so much peace and happiness, which exceed a million times our imagination. Our Lord is far more beautiful than any image can convey. His face is radiant and luminous and more beautiful than a thousand rising suns. The pictures we see in the world are only a shadow of His magnificence. The Blessed Mother was next to Jesus; She was so beautiful and radiant. None of the images we see in this world can compare with Her real beauty. Heaven is our real home; we are all created to reach heaven and enjoy God forever. Then, I came back to the world with my angel. 

While my body was at the hospital, the doctor completed all examinations and I was pronounced dead. The cause of death was bleeding. My family was notified, and since they were far away, the hospital staff decided to move my dead body to the morgue. Because the hospital did not have air conditioners, they were concerned that the body would decompose quickly. As they were moving my dead body to the morgue, my soul came back to the body. I felt an excruciating pain because of so many wounds and broken bones. I began to scream, and then the people became frightened and ran away screaming. One of them approached the doctor and said: “The dead body is screaming.” The doctor came to examine the body and found that I was alive. So he said: “Father is alive, it is a miracle! Take him back to the hospital.” 

Now, back at the hospital, they gave me blood transfusions and I was taken to surgery to repair the broken bones. They worked on my lower jaw, ribs, pelvic bone, wrists, and right leg. After two months, I was released from the hospital, but my orthopedic doctor said that I would never walk again. I then said to him: “The Lord who gave me my life back and sent me back to the world will heal me.” Once at home, we were all praying for a miracle. Still after a month, and with the casts removed, I was not able to move. But one day while praying I felt an extraordinary pain in my pelvic area. After a short while the pain disappeared completely and I heard a voice saying: “You are healed. Get up and walk.” I felt the peace and healing power on my body. I immediately got up and walked. I praised and thanked God for the miracle. 

I reached my doctor with the news of my healing, and he was amazed. He said: “Your God is the true God. I must follow your God.” The doctor was Hindu, and he asked me to teach him about our Church. After studying the Faith, I baptized him and he became Catholic. 

Following the message from my Guardian Angel, I came to the United States on November 10, 1986 as a missionary priest... Since June 1999, I have been pastor of St. Mary’s Mother of Mercy Catholic Church in Macclenny, Florida. 

Fr. Jose Maniyangat

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Pope and the poor | Philanthropy Daily

The Pope and the poor | Philanthropy Daily

CARYLL HOUSELANDER


Groeschel’s comment is a good way to begin thinking about the new Pope, whether you’re Catholic or not. The new Pope took the name Francis because St. Francis of Assisi was a great lover of the poor, and Cardinal Bergoglio/Pope Francis has long shown his desire to love the poor by joining in their lives and serving them.
The Roman Catholic Church already serves the poor in countless ways, of course, but the Church also knows that, from the twelve men Jesus chose as his apostles down to today, the Church’s members often fail in their duties. At the very least, we Catholics can always do more than we are doing to love “the least among us.”
That means eschewing worldliness, the love of comfort and fame. It also means learning from the poor.
One woman who both served the poor and learned from them was Caryll Houselander. (wrote THE REED OF GOD) An Englishwoman who lived 1901-54, Houselander was an artist, a spiritual writer, and a self-confessed neurotic. She also helped mentally disturbed children during and after the London Blitz. Her friend the psychiatrist Eric Strauss, later president of the British Psychological Society, brought the children to her, explaining simply, “she loved them back to life.”
Pope Francis’ election reminded me of a passage in Houselander’s letters.
She's writing to a Mr. St. George about another friend of hers, “a man who had an appalling tragedy in his life, namely that his wife went out of her mind and vanished with their four-year-old child. He spent a fortune trying to find them, but never did so. The police presumed that the poor woman had taken her life and the child’s too, but the father never knew for certain, and does not know to this day. Well, he took to drink, which one can understand, and he went rapidly downhill until at last he was living in doss-houses and the streets.
“He was in despair. He had lost faith in God and hope in life. He was drinking himself to death…. Then for some reason he disappeared…. Five years passed in which all my efforts to trace him failed; and then to my astonishment he turned up again, a changed man. He no longer drank. He had got and kept a good job. He had taken a room and made it bright and homely although he was alone; and though he was still a semi-invalid he was able to work and was cheerful. No bitterness remained, only tenderness to everyone and belief in God.
“What had happened? He told me that in the doss-houses the poor ‘down-and-outs,’ the ‘old lags’ and the drunkards had shown him divine charity. When he was starving they had shared their last crusts with him. They had taught him to keep out the cold with old newspapers. They had spread their own ragged coats over him. They had shared with him the cigarette ends which they had picked up in the gutter.
“He started to marvel. First of all he asked himself how was it that men so bad, so outcast, so insensitive and so ignorant as most of them really were, could have in them a strain of brotherly love stronger than the evil around them and sometimes in them? That was the question. But another one arose: What on earth could any of them see in him worth one moment’s kindness?
“He pondered this and arrived at the great truth of the presence of Christ in man. Whatever is loving and whatever is lovable, he thought, is Christ in man. This idea changed his whole life, as I have told you. The change, by the by, lasted. He has resumed his life among his fellow beings, but very often he returns to the doss-houses to try and give to others some of the faith and kindness they gave to him.
“All that and much more is what I mean by the unconscious Christ in man; and to me it is the unconscious Christ which is the consolation for the unlovingness of the professionally righteous.”
Houselander concludes that the usual “efforts at reform” in the Church are useless. “There are only two weapons against the worldly spirit which has possessed so many Catholics for so long,” and they are “Contemplation and visible, voluntary Poverty.”
How prophetic, given that Rome now has a Pope Emeritus devoted to the former and a new Pope devoted to the latter. Pope Benedict voluntarily gave away his power to devote himself to a cloistered life of contemplation. And Pope Francis famously said after his election, “How I would like a Church which is poor and for the poor.”
FOOTNOTE: For a thoughtful meditation on Pope Francis’ concern for the poor, see this piece by The Anchoress. A brief introduction to Caryll Houselander’s life is here. For more on Fr. Groeschel’s injunction to love the poor, read Anthony Esolen’s essay on the topic. For more on learning from the poor, read William Schambra's recent post on how civic renewal comes from the poor in their own communities. I wrote about Bob Cote, a man similar to Houselander's friend, who was a drunk and now runs a faith-based homeless shelter in Denver.