If we tailored our conclusions to a preconceived ideology, science would stand still. But when we examine openly and honestly, as set out in this further consideration of Sokołka, we discover objective Truth.
Sokółka – The Facts
Professor Maria Sobaniec-Lotowska is a first-rate scientist whose considerable academic achievements are recognized by the medical profession throughout Poland and abroad. Her expert opinions are normally considered definitive, since in her research and resulting conclusions. She is led by her conscience and the guidelines of the Ethics Commission of the Polish Academy of Sciences. So when she showed me the astonishing photographs obtained with the aid of optical and electron microscopy, I had no cause to doubt their authenticity. What I saw was truly astonishing.
Science operates on the principle of verifiability. What one scientist discovers or observes must be considered an objective fact if another scientist independently observes the same. I have not met or spoken with Prof. Stanislaw Sulkowski, who studied the same samples and arrived at the same conclusions, but his signature at the bottom of the research report is good enough for me. The two professors have presented me with an incontrovertible, scientifically proven fact: that a portion of a consecrated Host was transformed into human heart muscle tissue.
Over the years I have observed many objects and structures under a microscope. I have studied the microgeometry of various surfaces. Consequently, when I saw the photographs. I had no trouble distinguishing the structure of the Host and the muscle tissue and tiny blood vessels that appeared fused onto it. These ill-matched materials were so bonded together as to form a single, unbroken, and astonishing structure of bread-which-is-at-the-same-time-human-flesh. To achieve such a fusion artificially is impossible. Hence the two professors were forced to acknowledge that the matter of the Host had mysteriously assumed the form of heart muscle tissue.
Prof. Sobaniec-Lotowska informed me there could be no doubt that the fragments of flesh observed under the microscope belonged to the heart of a living person in his death agony. All the morphological changes known to medicine were here present. As a specialist with thirty years of experience in the field of pathomorphology, the professor honestly described the results of her findings in her report of January 21, 2009, which she submitted to the Metropolitan Curia of Białystok. Since October of 2009, when the Ecclesiastical Commission published its communiqué, no substantive reservations as to the reliability of these results have been expressed. An honest scientist, irrespective of his religious world-view, must simply state that he is dealing with a miraculous phenomenon.
Men and women of science must also be able to connect facts. If while eating dinner, we saw bread being transformed into fragments of human flesh, we would be appalled and forced to seek an answer to the question why this happened. The believing community observing the miraculous transformation of the Host into the tissue of a suffering heart knows the answer to the question of the nature of this phenomenon.
We need to recall that a miracle, as the Gospel understands it, is not at all some astonishing, inexplicable occurrence. What is normally translated into our modern languages as "miracle" means, in the original tongues of the Bible, "power, a manifestation of God's might" or "a sign, a supernatural confirmation." God is not some conjurer who seeks to amaze people with cheap tricks. God has something to say to us and confirms the truth of His words with a visible manifestation of His power.
In the Gospel account of the Eucharist, the words of Jesus Christ arc plain and unambiguous. Translated literally from the Greek, they sound as follows: "Take and eat (chew), this is my body (flesh, meat)." These graphic words point to an inconceivable reality: the disciples of Christ were to chew, to eat up His flesh, His meat, and drink His blood. The Apostles must have been horrified on hearing these words during the Last Supper. Christ's earlier Eucharistic sermon caused many of His disciples to desert Him (Jn 6: 60-66). Now, these words were the last straw, prompting Judas Iscariot to proceed with his plan of betrayal (Lk 22: 19-21; Jn 13:21-22). The words were simply too hard for the human mind to accept. Only after the resurrection of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit were the disciples able to fully accept the truth of the changing of the Eucharistic bread into the real Body of Christ. Even Saint Paul who was not present at the Last Supper had to "accept" this teaching without reservation — like it or not (cf. 1 Cor 11: 23-29).
The Church teaches that the sacrifice made once and for all by Christ is re-presented on the altars of the whole world in the Eucharist. The evangelists expressed this astonishing truth in the word aväuvnoic, which is usually translated as "memory," though "remembrance" or "commemoration" come closer to the original meaning. In the original Jewish context, the word meant "re-presentation" i.e. making present anew something that occurred once. When the Jews observe their weekly Sabbath, they do so as if "in remembrance of the days of the creation of the world." In their understanding, they make present, i.e. actually re-live anew this day of rest, which occurred then, at the beginning of time. When they observe the Passover every year, they do this as if each of them was a real participant of the events in Egypt. Precisely this meaning is implied in Jesus' words: do this — really experiencing the sacrifice of my body on the cross.
Jesus spoke of offering up His body and pouring out His blood in such a way that the apostles who heard him understood that the sacrifice was actually occurring — in the present (not in the future). This must have seemed strange to them, given the fact that they could still see the living Jesus, eating supper with them. However, from the moment Jesus uttered their words, there began that eternal "now" of the sacrifice made by Him — offered up once, but made really present on the altar of every Holy Mass celebrated.
In revealing His will to the Israelites, God used such grammatical forms with remarkable consistency. He constantly spoke of things in the future as if they had already occurred. In reality — for God — they have already happened, though man has not yet experienced them first-hand. In revealing His divine nature to the Jews, Jesus Christ used a similar grammar. A notable example of this is seen in His words: "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven" (Jn 20: 23). The human reality is bound up with time, and so the apostles will be able to forgive sins only in the future. But with Jesus these sins are already forgiven. He has made the sacrifice. He has forgiven them.
The Eucharistic miracle witnessed by Christ's disciples at St. Anthony of Padua parish church and certified by two professors of pathomorphology at the Medical University of Białystok is a logical sign confirming the solemnity of the words of Jesus Christ. The extraordinary, irreplicable structure of the partially transformed Host confirms the supernatural source of power that accomplished it. At the same time, the heart tissue, crushed by suffering, points to the ongoing, actual re-presentation of Christ's sacrifice in the Eucharist. It shows us that the words of Jesus as set down in the three Gospels and First Letter to the Corinthians are neither empty utterances nor metaphorical or symbolic in intent. They are reality — pure and simple.
Thus we are confronted with a series of unfortuitous, interconnected facts. Jesus uttered certain words. In accordance with these words, He offered Himself up as a sacrifice and rose from the dead. Accordingly, the Church has for twenty centuries been making His sacrifice and resurrection present in the Eucharist. A Eucharistic miracle is only a sign, a confirmation that all this is objective truth — that our faith makes sense and really does lead us to resurrection and salvation.
The “rationalists” exposed
The above are objective facts. The connection between them is logical and rational. Yet there have been those calling themselves "rationalists" who have reacted to the news of the miracle at Sokółka with extreme irrationality. They notified the public procurator, alleging that since the priest had in his possession a fragment of a human heart, he must have committed a murder. The authorities launched an investigation. The police paid a visit to the pastor.
Of course the Monsignor showed them the murderers and their victim. Both Pontius Pilate and Jesus Christ were real historical figures; no rationally thinking person would deny this; nor would any rationally thinking person lay charges today against Pilate who committed this crime against Jesus two thousand years ago. The only thing that might have aroused doubts was the way in which the pastor of Sokółka came into possession of a fragment of the heart of Jesus who was murdered in Jerusalem so many years ago. But then, in accordance with its procedures, the Ecclesiastical Commission had already gathered all the pertinent facts and interviewed the witnesses. Established beyond a shadow of a doubt were the circumstances surrounding, and the principals involved in, the case: who had placed the consecrated Host in the water vessel, and why; who had locked it away in the safe; who had keys to the safe; and who was the first to notice the unusual changes occurring in the Host. Hard to see a crime in everyday actions carried out in millions of churches around the world; so the procurator dismissed the case.
One is reminded of the joke of the two men at the zoo seeing a giraffe for the first time. After long reflection, one says to the other: "Do not believe your eyes; it's simply impossible." I often wonder why people who deny clear incontrovertible facts call themselves "rationalists." Objective reality remains objective reality irrespective of whether they consider it possible or impossible. The transformed Host at Sokółka is not a natural anomaly; nor is it a fake. It is a confirmation of the actual changing of bread into the Body of Christ, which is consumed at every Eucharist celebrated in the community of His disciples. A supernatural confirmation — yes, but nonetheless completely real and undeniable, apparent to any anyone who will honestly convince himself of the Truth.
God awaits your response
God's meek love is unfathomable. He "humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross" (Phil 2:8). Having absolute power over the universe, He places Himself in the hands of men, desiring only our love and trust. Can we ignore His suffering heart, which is offered up constantly for our sins? Can we reject such great love?
The facts speak for themselves. Jesus Christ did not utter idle words. He really did offer up His body as a sacrifice, thus redeeming the human race. He chose to experience death and resurrection in order to make our salvation possible. He makes His sacrifice and its consequences present in the life of all those who will only place their trust in Him: "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day " (Jn 6: 54).
Now everything depends on you and me. So little is demanded of us: trust and acceptance of what Jesus gives us. Let us not dismiss this only means of attaining eternal life. Let us reject every sin and follow Jesus to sanctification, real life, and real love.