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The Guardian Angel: Eucharistic Miracle of Cascia, Italy, 1330

St. Ignatius, talking to each of us about being in a state of 'grace' to be used by God made the following statement: "Few souls understand what God would accomplish in them if they were to abandon themselves unreservedly to him and if they were to allow His grace to mold them accordingly."

We can say for sure that Mary understood this as she gave herself completely in Spirit, Mind, and Body at the Annunciation. Her 'Fiat' was total as she humbled herself and said, "I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your words."

Do you want to be all you can be in God's service, it will mean to die to ourselves and pick up our cross and follow Jesus, and HE will sustain us with His body, blood, soul, and divinity, in the Eucharist. Now someone much more gifted than me, who denied himself and picked up his Cross to defend the faith. Listen to this Church Father before you get to the Eucharistic Miracle. God be with you:

St. Athanasius

If there is one writer whose name stands for doctrine and whose life symbolizes fortitude, it is St. Athanasius. He died in 373, after forty-five years in the episcopate. His extensive writings were mainly composed during the frequent exiles he suffered because of his defense of the faith. Like St. Paul, he was hounded by his enemies and was forced on one occasion to hide in the tomb of his father.

Unlike Cyprian, whom he resembled in many ways, Athanasius had to defend Christ's true divinity against heretical bishops. Still a deacon, he accompanied Bishop Alexander of Alexandria to the Council of Nicea in 325. Even then, his vigorous opposition to Arius, who denied that Christ had the same divine nature as the Father, earned for Athanasius the hatred of the Arians and their sympathizers. Three years after Nicea, the people clamored for his episcopal ordination, crying out, "He is a sincere, virtuous man, a good Christian, an ascetic, a true bishop."

St. Athanasius championed three principal doctrines of the Catholic faith:

The divinity of Jesus Christ,

The mystery of the Redemption,

The independence of the Church from the state in teaching the faith and in guiding the morals and worship of the faithful.

At first glance, Athanasius' writings may seem to be too polemical, as in his two main works, the Discourse Against the Greeks and the Discourse Against the Arians. But they are sober reminders to us that we should be more wary of errors in faith and more zealous in defending revealed truth in our day.

If anything, ours is an age in which error flourishes, at least partly because those who possess the truth are too squeamish about safeguarding their possession from pollution by error. Athanasius spoke fearlessly about the servility of Arian bishops to heretical pressure and denounced as a crime the banishment of Pope Liberius by the Arian emperor.

Lacking the sharp theological vocabulary later developed by the Church, Athanasius yet remained clear in his understanding of the cardinal mysteries of Christianity. What he wrote at the end of The Incarnation of the Word summarizes Athanasius' whole approach to the faith. He saw in his day widespread confusion, especially among intellectuals, about the most basic truths of revelation. His recommendation in the fourth century is more than ever valid today: a deep study of the Scriptures and education are to be highly esteemed, but "an upright life, a pure soul, and Christian virtue are necessary if the soul, having practiced these things, would obtain and possess what it desires to learn, the Word of God, as far as this is possible for human nature."

It was Athanasius' conviction that if anyone hopes to reach the wisdom of the Church's great thinkers, "he must first draw near to the saints by resembling them in their actions." Only holiness of life gives light to the believing mind. This explains St. Athanasius' preoccupation with purity of morals. It also accounts for his writing the classic story of the hermit St. Anthony of Egypt. This book is a classic three times over: it is our earliest extensive biography of a saint; it emphasizes the need for prayer and mortification if the intellect is to remain humble in accepting the mysteries of the faith; and it explains the role of the devil in seducing souls through pride, even to the rejection of God.

Eucharistic Miracle of Cascia, Italy, 1330

In 1330, at Cascia, a gravely ill peasant called the priest so he could receive Communion. The priest, partly through carelessness and partly through apathy, instead of taking the ciborium with him in order to carry the Eucharist to the house of the sick man, irreverently placed a Host in a prayer book.

When he reached the peasant the priest opened the book and with astonishment saw that the Host was transformed into a clot of blood and the pages of the book were marked with blood.

At Cascia, in the basilica dedicated to St. Rita, is also preserved the relic of the Eucharistic Miracle, which happened near Siena in 1330. A priest was asked to bring Communion to a sick peasant. The priest took a consecrated Host which he irreverently placed in the pages of his breviary and went to the peasant. When he arrived at the house of the sick man, after hearing his confession, he opened the book to take out the Host which he had placed there. To his great surprise he found that the Host was stained with living blood, so much as to mark both pages between which the Blessed Sacrament had been placed.

The priest, confused and penitent, went immediately to Siena to the Augustinian Priory to ask the counsel of Fr. Simone Fidati of Cascia, known by all to be a holy man. Fr. Fidati, having heard the story, granted pardon to the priest and asked to keep the two pages marked by Blood.

Many popes have promoted veneration, conceding indulgences. In the act of recognition of the relic of the Eucharistic Miracle of Cascia in 1687, a text was also reported of a very ancient code of the priory of St. Augustine in which are described numerous pieces of information regarding the miracle.

Beyond this information, the episode is also mentioned in the Communal Statutes of Cascia of 1387 where it was ordered that “every year on the Feast of Corpus Christi, the authorities, the counsels, and the people of Cascia should meet in the Church of St. Augustine and follow the priest, who should carry the venerable relic of the Most Holy Body of Christ in procession through the city”.

In 1930, on the occasion of the sixth centenary of the event, a Eucharistic Congress was celebrated at Cascia for the entire diocese of Norcia. A precious and artistic monstrance was consecrated, and the entire historical documentation of the miracle was published.

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