To Believe or Not to Believe,That is the Question

There are indeed many Eucharistic miracles. Today we are going to look at one in which God’s power is evident, manifesting itself at particularly tragic times…

Newsroom (09/11/2023 09:00, Gaudium Press) The Eucharist is a splendid and permanent miracle. When we speak of “Eucharistic miracles”, there are some very impressive ones: consecrated wafers that bleed, that glow, that resist fire, water, even time… – first and foremost should be the miracle of transubstantiation itself, which is the conversion of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Our Lord.

In any case, there are several Eucharistic miracles. Today we are going to speak about one in which God’s power is shown in particularly tragic moments. It would be a good thing if we keep this miracle in mind, as it could strengthen our faith in times to come.

This miracle took place on 31 January 1906 in San Andrés de Tumaco, a port city in Colombia. The following information has been taken from the book “Eucharistic Prodigies” by Friar Antonio Corredor García, and some of it can also be found on the website of the Diocese of Tumaco in Colombia.

This is how events unfolded: at around ten in the morning that day, the people felt the beginnings of an earthquake, which lasted more than ten minutes. Panic gripped the people who flocked to the church and the surrounding area, begging the priests to organise a procession without delay with the images of Our Lady and the Saints that had been hastily placed on their respective platforms by the people.

It seemed prudent to the Missionary Fathers – Friar Gerardo Larrondo from San José and Friar Julián Moreno from San Nicolás de Tolentino, both Augustinian Recollects – to encourage the parishioners, assuring them that there was no reason for such fear which had taken hold of everyone. They were both busy with this when they realised that, due to the continuous shaking of the earth – the earthquake had measured 8.8 – the sea was moving away from the beach, leaving dry perhaps up to a kilometre and a half of the land that had previously been covered by water, which was accumulating in the sea, forming a mountain that would become a formidable wave that would bury and destroy the town, whose ground is below sea level. Fr. Larrondo then rushed into the church and consumed the Sacred Species, reserving only the Host. Then, turning to the people and carrying Jesus Christ in the Sacrament in his ciborium, he exclaimed: “Let us go to the beach and may God have mercy on us!”

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Inflamed by the presence of the Eucharistic Jesus, and faced with the emphatic attitude of his minister, everyone went to the seaside, crying out to the Lord, to Our Lady and to the Saints in Heaven to have mercy on them. The image must have been shocking because that city had many thousands of inhabitants, who stood there as one man, with the terror of a tragic death already imprinted on their faces. The images of the Church, carried on the shoulders of the faithful, also accompanied the Blessed Sacrament, without the priests having arranged them, just because of the irresistible impulse of the faith of those fervently Catholic people. When Fr. Larrondo was already on the beach with the faithful, that mountain formed by the waters began to move towards the mainland, advancing like an impetuous flood, forming a formidable wave. Tumaco’s minutes were numbered…

The missionary was not intimidated; he went down to the sand and, placing himself in the ordinary jurisdiction of the waters, at the precise moment when the wave was already coming and the crowd’s anxiety was growing to its last limit, he raised the Sacred Host and made the sign of the Cross with it.

The wave advanced a little further and, without touching the ciborium with the Blessed Sacrament that was still raised, it crashed into the priest, hitting him only up to the waist. Fr. Larrondo only realised what had just happened to him after hearing excited exclamations: “Miracle, miracle!” In fact, that wave had suddenly been contained, and the huge mountain of water began to move backwards until it disappeared into the sea, the water returning to its normal level.

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What must have been the joy and excitement in that village, which Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament had just rescued from a hecatomb! Tears of terror were followed by tears of joy; cries of anguish were followed by cries of gratitude and praise; from all the faithful came resounding cheers for the Blessed Sacrament. The parish priest then ordered them to go to the church to bring the monstrance and, placing the Sacred Host in it, a procession was organised that went through the streets and outskirts of the village, until the Lord entered the temple with all His pomp, from where He had come in haste hours before.

This earthquake and subsequent tsunami also affected the neighbouring Republics of Ecuador and Panama, causing more than 1,500 deaths in the surrounding areas. The repercussions of the accident were felt on the shores of Japan! If it had not been for this Eucharistic miracle, Tumaco and its inhabitants would literally have disappeared from the map due to its lower level than the sea.

We must emphasise a fact of immense importance: the faith of the people and their priests was decisive for the miracle to happen. Worse than the raging natural elements is the misfortune of unbelieving and fearful souls. In Tumaco, our brothers and sisters in the Faith testified to their belief in the Eucharist, and see how they were rewarded!

Today, the Faith is declining everywhere like a devastating tsunami, ravaging the whole earth. For example, many Catholics no longer believe in the Real Presence; for them, the Eucharist would be nothing more than a mere symbol. There is something to worry about, because we also see in the Gospel that miracles are not usually given for the benefit of unbelievers; miracles are a gift for those who believe.

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“To be or not to be, that is the question,” said Shakespeare in his famous tragedy. Without pretending to be melodramatic about what we’ve been discussing, let’s simply say that the real question is “to believe or not to believe”…

By Father Rafael Ibarguren EP – Councillor of Honour of the World Federation of Eucharistic Works of the Church.

Compiled by Sandra Chisholm

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