Faith that Conquers: The Living Jesus is Waiting for You
by Kelly Mescher Collins | February 26, 2021
Carlo Acutis was a regular teenage boy who enjoyed playing video games, hanging out with his friends and coding on a computer.
But what set him apart was his devotion to Jesus. Born in London in 1991 and raised in Italy, he spent his free time attending daily Mass and weekly confession. He was devoted to the Eucharist, the rosary and Jesus, whom he imitated by loving those around him, including the homeless and lonely.
Carlo was very good with technology, and used his skills to show case the Eucharist. He built a website cataloguing all documented cases of Eucharistic miracles around the world.
Unfortunately, Carlo passed away from leukemia in 2006
Admittedly, I was unaware of Carlo until his beatification on Oct. 10, 2020. He instantly caught my attention though. A young man on the road to sainthood who lived in my generation, surfed the internet, worked on computers and had a deep love for Jesus like me.
While digging deeper into the life of Carlo for this column, I discovered our lives had “touched” years prior. My husband and I attended a Eucharistic Miracles of the World Exhibition at St. Patrick Parish in Neola in July 2016. Turns out this traveling exhibition, which has been on display at thousands of parishes around the world, was created and designed by Carlo.
If you’re unfamiliar with Eucharistic miracles, you’re likely not alone. It’s when a consecrated host changes in appearance to human blood or tissue. But a “miracle” is not proclaimed until lab tests confirm the host contains human blood and/or human muscle or tissue.
One of the more well-known Eucharistic miracles occurred in Lanciano, Italy, in 750 AD. The priest doubted the True Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist while celebrating Mass. During the consecration, the bread and wine transformed into what appeared to be flesh and blood.
Of course, modern technology did not exist in 750 AD for testing purposes. But more than 1,200 years later, scientists did a thorough exam. It revealed:
- The coagulated substance is human blood, AB blood type, with the same protein distribution as found in normal, fresh blood.
- The consecrated host is human muscular striated tissue of the myocardium, left ventricle of the heart; arteries, veins, the branch of the vagus nerve and adipose tissue all can be identified.
- Like the blood, the flesh is also fresh, living tissue, because it “responded rapidly to all the clinical reactions distinctive of living beings” (Ascension Press).
In 1992 and 1996 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, hosts were sent for testing by then Bishop Jorge Bergoglio (now Pope Francis). The forensic doctor, Professor Frederick Zugibe at Columbia University in New York, examined the host, not knowing its source. He said: “If white blood cells were present (in the heart tissue), it is because at the moment you brought me the sample, it was pulsating.”
I share this scientific documentation to drive home a point – the living Jesus is waiting for you at Mass and in Eucharistic Adoration. And during this time of Eucharistic renewal in our Diocese, I love pointing out that we Catholics have the privilege of experiencing something very special.
When Professor Zugibe learned the source of the Argentinian sample, he was very moved, exclaiming: “I do not believe it.”
Sadly, disbelief is the reaction of many of today’s Catholics.
According to a 2019 Pew Research Center Study, 69 percent of Catholics say they personally believe the bread and wine used in communion “are symbols of the body and blood of Jesus Christ.” Just one-third of U.S. Catholics say they believe that “during Catholic Mass, the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Jesus.”
Is complacency, secularism or simply forgetting the lessons learned before making our First Communion at the root of this lack of Eucharistic faith?
I do not know for sure. But I do know that spending time with the living Jesus in Adoration and consuming his Eucharistic body at Mass will make you more like him. Results are burdens lifted, hearts afire and spirits soaring.
I’m in. You?
Kelly Mescher Collins is a multimedia journalist at the Diocese of Des Moines.