Go to a supermarket, and chances are many, if not most people there, even in Catholic Philippines, are among some five billion on the planet, including most Christians, who don’t believe the consecrated host and wine at mass is God Himself.
Even believers who profess that the Almighty became a human being two millennia ago, dismiss the doctrine that He also makes bread and wine into His true Body and Blood.
But what if an angel appears, wings and all, and shows by his words and actions that the host and wine are indeed the Lord and Creator of heaven and earth, before Whom even heavenly beings kneel and worship?
What if the angel bears a chalice with a host floating above it and dripping blood in it? Then leaving both suspended in the air, he kneels praying: “Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, I offer You the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the sacrileges, outrages, and indifferences by which He Himself is offended.” (Tabernacles are church enclosures where consecrated hosts are kept.)
And what if this ethereal creature offered the bread and wine, saying, “Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by ungrateful men,” then lay prostrate before the floating host and chalice, repeating the prayer to the Blessed Trinity?
That’s what happened in the third apparition of the Angel of Peace to three shepherd children of Fatima in rural Portugal, Lucia Dos Santos and her cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto, aged between 6 and 9, in the autumn of 1916.
The three angelic appearances prepared the visionaries for the six apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima every 13th of the month from May and October the following year.
Said by Fatima experts to be St. Michael The Archangel, one of the patrons of Portugal, the Angel of Peace imparted three fundamental tenets of the faith in three visions.
In spring, the angel preached the existence and adoration of God. In summer, he spoke of sin and our need to repent and pray for God’s mercy and grace for our conversion.
And the third apparition manifested the paramount means of salvation and conversion: God Himself, His Body and Blood in the form of bread and wine, offered in reparation for sin, and received to sanctify and bring us to His perfection and divinity.
Thus, by the Holy Eucharist, God comes to us to restore us to the full reflection of Himself, as He created man to be — “Let us make man to our own image and likeness” — but which we disfigured by sin.
God made man brings man to God
Yesterday, the Church commemorated another heavenly message about Creator becoming creature to save man.
The Solemnity of the Annunciation on March 25 marks the Angel Gabriel’s declaration to the Virgin Mary that she would give birth to the Son of God.
In the Gospel of Saint Luke (Lk 1:31-32), St. Gabriel told the Jewish teenager: “Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Most High.”
This event is recounted in the Angelus prayer said every 6 and 12 o’clock. It opens: “The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary, and she conceived of the Holy Spirit.”
Then it recalls her acceptance of her God-given mission: “I am the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to your word.”
The prayer also quotes from the Gospel of St. John (Jn 1:14), about the Eternal Word of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, becoming man: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.”
It is, of course, the central doctrine of Christianity that God as the divine and human Jesus lived a full earthly life from conception to death, taught by prayer, preaching and living the perfect love of God and neighbor, then suffered utter humiliation, torture, and execution in reparation for our sins.
In this story of salvation, God Himself imbues humanity with divinity and perfection, both in Jesus and in His Blessed Mother, made perfect from her Immaculate Conception, who shared in the Redemption, bearing the Lord in her womb, birthing and raising Him, and suffering with Him in His Passion and Death.
And only by the same Way, Truth and Life — God entering and transforming our humanity — are we lifted from sinfulness to holiness. For if evil is the opposite of good, then by bringing in God’s absolute goodness, we wipe away the ills in us.
We follow the Way of Christ in our lives, we believe and worship in the Truth He taught about God and His saving mercy, and we partake of His eternal Life by the grace of the Sacraments, leading to the fullness of divine life after death.
God becomes man to save us, and in the Eucharist, He continues to fill us with His divinity, erasing sin and sinfulness, and increasing His holiness in us.
‘Sacrileges, outrages and indifferences’
Today, however, most of humanity has forgotten our Lord and His law, and stopped seeking His grace and mercy. God and sin are less and less spoken or thought of, even in the Church, and modern man cares little for divine assistance, if at all.
So, even if God Himself waits in church tabernacles, offering His sanctifying and transforming Body for our ills and woes, churches are empty most of the time.
Our Lady of Fatima and her angelic herald lamented that faithlessness 100 years ago, and the “sacrileges, outrages and indifferences” have grown since.
And we can only pray with the Angel at the end of the Trinity prayer: “Through the infinite merits of His Most Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of You the conversion of poor sinners.” Amen.