By Dr. Michael Guidici
Catholic Health Care Today
“You are what you eat” is a phrase we’ve all heard many times. As Catholics, we’ve also heard “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you shall not have life within you.” Too many Catholics have become either blasé or unbelieving towards the Eucharist. They either don’t go to church or go to a nondenominational church that talks and sings about God, which is nice, but doesn’t have the body and blood of Christ.
As a physician, I practice evidence-based medicine. I employ therapies that have good, solid, scientific evidence to try and help patients with their cardiac issues. When new therapies are proposed, we are “doubting Thomas” until we, in a scientific sense, can feel the wounds in the hands and feet and know that they are real.
The Eucharist is real. Make no mistake, the Eucharist IS REAL. Do a search for eucharistic miracles — there are many and they are fascinating.
The one that appeals to me the most as a cardiologist is the miracle from Buenos Aires, Argentina, that began in 1996. A priest was finishing Mass and a parishioner told him that a host was lying on a candle-holder in the back of the church. The priest took the host and put it in a jar of water to cause it to disintegrate and locked it in the tabernacle. A week later, he removed the jar and was stunned to find that the host had changed into a bloody substance. The cardinal in Buenos Aires had it professionally photographed and then waited several years and finally had the substance analyzed by a cardiologist/pathologist who was blinded to the source of the specimen.
The pathologist identified the substance microscopically as cardiac muscle — and not just any cardiac muscle — it was from the left ventricle, the main pumping chamber of a man who had been under great stress and had been severely beaten prior to death…. the Sacred Heart!
Cardiac muscle is unique in that it looks and acts like no other muscle in the body. While your arms tire and need a rest when lifting something repetitively, your heart needs to continuously beat without pausing to rest for 90 years or so. Cardiac muscle under a microscope has many, many mitochondria, which are little energy generating “stations.” Picture little guys in there shoveling coal all day long to keep the fire going. That’s what the pathologist saw — pure cardiac muscle. He also saw a great number of inflammatory cells which is a marker of stress. This started as a piece of unleavened bread that was consecrated by a priest and became part of the heart of Jesus. It happens many times a day at churches all over the world.
We live in a world that tries to deny the existence of God when the world itself is proof of his presence. We are all feeble and flawed, but we have the opportunity to have God live within us on a daily basis. Think of all the trivial things we spend money on when every day we can receive the body and blood of Christ — for free! All we have to do is go to Mass. What a beautiful thing!
The prayer over the offerings from May 12 reads:
Grant, we pray, O Lord, that we may always find delight in these paschal mysteries,
So that the renewal constantly at work within us may be the cause of our unending joy.
Through Christ our Lord.
I hope that in some small way I can become more like what I eat at Mass.
(Michael C. Giudici, MD, is a professor of medicine and director of Arrhythmia Services, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City. He is a member of St. Anthony Parish in Davenport and the St. Thomas Aquinas Guild of the Quad Cities.)