The Guardian Angel: Eucharistic Miracle of Weiten, Austria, 1411
Jesus said, "I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were blazing already!"
We need a New Pentecost. We need to be baptized afresh in the Holy Spirit. The Church of the Third Millennium needs the spiritual power with which she transformed the world of the first millennium. Lord, set the earth on fire! Lord, set me on fire! What are we waiting for?
Eucharistic Miracle of Weiten, Austria, 1411
In fifteenth-century Austria there were a number of thefts of consecrated Hosts, so Church authorities began keeping the Hosts in the sacristy. Despite these precautions, in 1411 a thief succeeded in stealing a consecrated Host from the parish church in Weiten. The Host slipped unnoticed to the ground during his journey and was discovered several days later by a pious woman. The Host glowed brilliantly, divided in two Pieces, but was united by threads of Bleeding Flesh.
In the parish church of Weiten, a thief broke into the sacristy and got hold of a consecrated Host that he slipped into one of his gloves. According to reports from the village of Weiten, the theft occurred in 1411. The thief then mounted his horse intending to make for the nearby village of Spitz. Instead of taking the main road, he chose a side road that passes through the valley of Mühldorf and is known as “Am Schuß.”
When he arrived at the spot (that today is marked by a chapel in honor of the miracle) his horse halted and would not move, no matter how much the man beat him. Some laborers working in the surrounding fields came to help. But there was no way to make the horse move; it stood still as a statue. Then without warning, the animal leaped to a gallop, and the Sacred Host hidden in the rider's glove dropped to the ground without anyone noticing.
A few days later, a Mrs. Scheck from Mannersdorf passed by the spot and saw the Host encircled in a strong light. In great wonder, she picked up the Holy Eucharist and noticed that the consecrated Host was broken in two Parts but remained joined together by threads of Bleeding Flesh. Greatly moved and at her own expense, in thanksgiving, she built a small chapel on the spot. As news of the miracle spread, many pilgrims came to the place. Later, it was necessary to build a bigger church to honor the precious reliquary in order to contain the great crowds that came every year on pilgrimage.
More from St. Athanasius:
22. But why did He not withdraw His body from the Jews, and so guard its immortality? (1) It became Him not to inflict death on Himself, and yet not to shun it. (2) He came to receive death as the due of others, therefore it should come to Him from without. (3) His death must be certain, to guarantee the truth of His Resurrection. Also, He could not die from infirmity, lest He should be mocked in His healing of others.
But it were better, one might say, to have hidden from the designs of the Jews, that He might guard His body altogether from death. Now let such an one be told that this too was unbefitting the Lord. For as it was not fitting for the Word of God, being the Life, to inflict death Himself on His own body, so neither was it suitable to fly from death offered by others, but rather to follow it up unto destruction, for which reason He naturally neither laid aside His body of His own accord, nor, again, fled from the Jews when they took counsel against Him. 2. But this did not show weakness on the Word's part, but, on the contrary, showed Him to be Saviour and Life; in that He both awaited death to destroy it, and hasted to accomplish the death offered Him for the salvation of all. 3. And besides, the Saviour came to accomplish not His own death, but the death of men; whence He did not lay aside His body by a death of His own John 10:17-18 — for He was Life and had none— but received that death which came from men, in order perfectly to do away with this when it met Him in His own body. 4. Again, from the following also one might see the reasonableness of the Lord's body meeting this end. The Lord was especially concerned for the resurrection of the body which He was set to accomplish. For what He was to do was to manifest it as a monument of victory over death, and to assure all of His having effected the blotting out of corruption, and of the incorruption of their bodies from thenceforward; as a gage of which and a proof of the resurrection in store for all, He has preserved His own body incorrupt. 5. If, then, once more, His body had fallen sick, and the word had been sundered from it in the sight of all, it would have been unbecoming that He who healed the diseases of others should suffer His own instrument to waste in sickness. For how could His driving out the diseases of others have been believed Matthew 27:42 in if His own temple fell sick in Him ? For either He had been mocked as unable to drive away diseases, or if He could, but did not, He would be thought insensible toward others also.
23. Necessity of a public death for the doctrine of the Resurrection.
But even if, without any disease and without any pain, He had hidden His body away privily and by Himself in Acts 26:26 a corner, or in a desert place, or in a house, or anywhere, and afterwards suddenly appeared and said that He had been raised from the dead, He would have seemed on all hands to be telling idle tales Luke 24:11, and what He said about the Resurrection would have been all the more discredited, as there was no one at all to witness to His death. Now, death must precede resurrection, as it would be no resurrection did not death precede; so that if the death of His body had taken place anywhere in secret, the death not being apparent nor taking place before witnesses, His Resurrection too had been hidden and without evidence. 2. Or why, while when He had risen He proclaimed the Resurrection, should He cause His death to take place in secret? Or why, while He drove out evil spirits in the presence of all, and made the man blind from his birth recover his sight, and changed the water into wine, that by these means He might be believed to be the Word of God, should He not manifest His mortal nature as incorruptible in the presence of all, that He might be believed Himself to be the Life? 3. Or how were His disciples to have boldness in speaking of the Resurrection, were they not able to say that He first died? Or how could they be believed, saying that death had first taken place and then the Resurrection, had they not had as witnesses of His death the men before whom they spoke with boldness? For if, even as it was, when His death and Resurrection had taken place in the sight of all, the Pharisees of that day would not believe, but compelled even those who had seen the Resurrection to deny it, why, surely, if these things had happened in secret, how many pretexts for disbelief would they have devised? 4. Or how could the end of death, and the victory over it be proved, unless challenging it before the eyes of all He had shown it to be dead, annulled for the future by the incorruption of His body?
24. Further objections anticipated. He did not choose His manner of death; for He was to prove Conqueror of death in all or any of its forms: (simile of a good wrestler). The death chosen to disgrace Him proved the Trophy against death: moreover it preserved His body undivided.
But what others also might have said, we must anticipate in reply. For perhaps a man might say even as follows: If it was necessary for His death to take place before all, and with witnesses, that the story of His Resurrectionalso might be believed, it would have been better at any rate for Him to have devised for Himself a gloriousdeath, if only to escape the ignominy of the Cross. 2. But had He done even this, He would give ground for suspicion against Himself, that He was not powerful against every death, but only against the death devised forHim; and so again there would have been a pretext for disbelief about the Resurrection all the same. So death came to His body, not from Himself, but from hostile counsels, in order that whatever death they offered to the Saviour, this He might utterly do away. 3. And just as a noble wrestler, great in skill and courage, does not pick out his antagonists for himself, lest he should raise a suspicion of his being afraid of some of them, but puts it in the choice of the onlookers, and especially so if they happen to be his enemies, so that against whomsoever they match him, him he may throw, and be believed superior to them all; so also the Life of all, our Lord and Saviour, even Christ, did not devise a death for His own body, so as not to appear to be fearing some other death; but He accepted on the Cross, and endured, a death inflicted by others, and above all by His enemies, which they thought dreadful and ignominious and not to be faced; so that this also being destroyed, both He Himself might be believed to be the Life, and the power of death be brought utterly to nought. 4. So something surprising and startling has happened; for the death, which they thought to inflict as a disgrace, was actually a monument of victory against death itself. Whence neither did He suffer the death of John, his head being severed, nor, as Esaias, was He sawn in sunder; in order that even in death He might still keep His body undivided and in perfectsoundness, and no pretext be afforded to those that would divide the Church.
25. Why the Cross, of all deaths? (1) He had to bear the curse for us. (2) On it He held out His hands to unite all, Jews and Gentiles, in Himself. (3) He defeated the Prince of the powers of the air in His own region, clearing the way to heaven and opening for us the everlasting doors.
And thus much in reply to those without who pile up arguments for themselves. But if any of our own people also inquire, not from love of debate, but from love of learning, why He suffered death in none other way save on the Cross, let him also be told that no other way than this was good for us, and that it was well that the Lordsuffered this for our sakes. 2. For if He came Himself to bear the curse laid upon us, how else could He have become Galatians 3:13 a curse, unless He received the death set for a curse? And that is the Cross. For this is exactly what is written: Cursed Deuteronomy 21:23 is he that hangs on a tree. 3. Again, if the Lord's death is the ransom of all, and by His death the middle Ephesians 2:14 wall of partition is broken down, and the calling of the nations is brought about, how would He have called us to Him, had He not been crucified? For it is only on the cross that a man dies with his hands spread out. Whence it was fitting for the Lord to bear this also and to spread out His hands, that with the one He might draw the ancient people, and with the other those from the Gentiles, and unite both in Himself. 4. For this is what He Himself has said, signifying by what manner of death He was to ransom all: I, when John 12:32 I am lifted up, He says, shall draw all men unto Me. 5. And once more, if the devil, the enemy of our race, having fallen from heaven, wanders about our lower atmosphere, and there bearing rule over his fellow-spirits, as his peers in disobedience, not only works illusions by their means in them that are deceived, but tries to hinder them that are going up (and about this the Apostle says: According to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that now works in the sons of disobedience); while the Lordcame to cast down the devil, and clear the air and prepare the way for us up into heaven, as said the Apostle: Through Hebrews 10:20 the veil, that is to say, His flesh— and this must needs be by death— well, by what other kind of death could this have come to pass, than by one which took place in the air, I mean the cross? For only he that is perfected on the cross dies in the air. Whence it was quite fitting that the Lord suffered this death. 6. For thus being lifted up He cleared the air of the malignity both of the devil and of demons of all kinds, as He says: I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven; and made a new opening of the way up into heaven as He says once more: Lift up your gates, O you princes, and be lifted up, you everlasting doors. For it was not the Word Himself that needed an opening of the gates, being Lord of all; nor were any of His works closed to their Maker; but we it was that needed it whom He carried up by His own body. For as He offered it to death on behalf of all, so by it He once more made ready the way up into the heavens.
26. Reasons for His rising on the Third Day. (1) Not sooner for else His real death would be denied, nor (2) later; to (a) guard the identity of His body, (b) not to keep His disciples too long in suspense, nor (c) to wait till the witnesses of His death were dispersed, or its memory faded.
The death on the Cross, then, for us has proved seemly and fitting, and its cause has been shown to be reasonable in every respect; and it may justly be argued that in no other way than by the Cross was it right for the salvation of all to take place. For not even thus— not even on the Cross— did He leave Himself concealed; but far otherwise, while He made creation witness to the presence of its Maker, He suffered not the temple of His body to remain long, but having merely shown it to be dead, by the contact of death with it, He straightway raised it up on the third day, bearing away, as the mark of victory and the triumph over death, the incorruptibility and impassibility which resulted to His body. 2. For He could, even immediately on death, have raised His body and shown it alive; but this also the Saviour, in wise foresight, did not do. For one might have said that He had not died at all, or that death had not come into perfect contact with Him, if He had manifested the Resurrection at once. 3. Perhaps, again, had the interval of His dying and rising again been one of two daysonly, the glory of His incorruption would have been obscure. So in order that the body might be proved to be dead, the Word tarried yet one intermediate day, and on the third showed it incorruptible to all. 4. So then, that the death on the Cross might be proved, He raised His body on the third day. 5. But lest, by raising it up when it had remained a long time and been completely corrupted, He should be disbelieved, as though He had exchanged it for some other body— for a man might also from lapse of time distrust what he saw, and forget what had taken place— for this cause He waited not more than three days; nor did He keep long in suspense those whom He had told about the Resurrection: 6. but while the word was still echoing in their ears and their eyes were still expectant and their mind in suspense, and while those who had slain Him were still living on earth, and were on the spot and could witness to the death of the Lord's body, the Son of God Himself, after an interval of three days, showed His body, once dead, immortal and incorruptible; and it was made manifest to all that it was not from any natural weakness of the Word that dwelt in it that the body had died, but in order that in it death might be done away by the power of the Saviour.