Miracle of the Eucharist Explained to Children

«Small Eucharistic Catechism» Distributed in Guadalajara Congress

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ROME, OCT. 22, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Among the publications distributed at the 48th International Eucharistic Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, was the «Small Eucharistic Catechism.»

The publication, written for children, is a veritable ABC’s of the faith that is easy to read and solid in content.

In the following interview Antonia Salzano, creator and promoter of the catechism, discusses how the small book is being disseminated in the world and in what way it is fostering knowledge and participation in the Eucharist.

Salzano is president of the St. Clement Pope Institute and curator of the Pontifical Academy Cultorum Martyrum.

Q: How was the idea conceived of writing and publishing a small catechism on the Eucharist?

Salzano: It was my own idea. I reflected on people’s perception of the Eucharist and realized that there were extremely confusing points.

I got in touch with Father Roberto Coggi, who is professor of dogmatic theology in Bologna, whom I had heard speak several times on the Eucharist, suggesting that he write a catechism on the Eucharist in a simple edition based on questions and answers.

Q: What was your specific concern about the perception of the Eucharist?

Salzano: Many controversial points. For example, in some theological faculties, I have heard it said that the Eucharist is a subjective event: if you believe Jesus is present, he is, and if you don’t believe he is, he is not.

I have also heard it said that transubstantiation is an erroneous word because what matters is the assembly. In this connection, one could not speak of real presence because what is important is that the assembly be gathered, so that Eucharistic adoration, outside of the assembly, is meaningless.

Moreover, there are many who hold that Jesus is present in Sacred Scripture in the same way as he is in the Eucharist. In many cases, for example, the Eucharist is presented to children as a supper, in which the sacrificial aspect and real presence of Christ is denied, so that communion becomes an event of the assembled community. In a word, a series of confused ideas carried to the extreme.

Because of this, the idea arose to clarify matters, insisting on the fundamental truths in regard to God and Jesus’ divinity, emphasizing the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

Q: Essentially, it is a book written especially to educate children.

Salzano: The objective was to produce an easy book for adults and children. Children are far sharper than we think. All ask why the piece of bread becomes the Body of Christ and this small book, with many pictures, makes it easier for them and helps them.

For adults it is important to know how it is possible to explain the mystery of the Eucharist to children.

Q: How did the small Eucharistic catechism come into being and how is it being disseminated?

Salzano: The project was born in the year 2000. The work of creation and writing lasted more than a year. The first edition of the book was published in 2002. It has been reprinted several times in Italy by Edizioni Studio Domenicano of Bologna.

We then began to distribute it abroad also. First in Portugal, where through the mediation of the Bishop of Elvas, a community translated it into Portuguese and distributed it in the country.

The «Aid to the Church in Need’ association in Portugal, acquired 10,000 copies for distribution. Then two groups in Brazil acquired it, one of which is Schoenstatt, and began to distribute it throughout the country.

In Africa, specifically in Tanzania, we have a collaborative project with the Salesians and with the Christians in the World community, a religious community inspired in St. Alphonsus Mary Liguori.

We are also preparing editions for Eastern Europe, Rumania and Ukraine. The Mexican edition has an introduction written by Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iniguez, and in the section of Eucharistic saints are also included Mexican martyrs who died for the faith. The edition has been distributed in the cardinal’s diocese. The small catechism has also been disseminated as notebook no. 19 of the International Eucharistic Congress.

Q: The principal Eucharistic miracles have been included in an appendix of the volume. Why?

Salzano: We have published those which have been recognized by the Church. The reason is simple. Many do not know what a Eucharistic miracle means, they can’t even imagine it.

Just the fact of knowing about these miracles obliges them to think seriously about the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

Many people are fascinated by real or alleged apparitions, but the Eucharist is God who is present among us every day; therefore, it is more important than other apparitions. Sadly, many people don’t know this, because if they knew it they would queue to go into churches, the same as they queue to go to shrines.

Q: Which Eucharistic miracles would you point out as the most astonishing?

Salzano: The Eucharistic mystery of Lanciano, Italy, is awesome. It is the oldest, and dates back to the 8th century. The Sacred Species are seen to be transformed into flesh and blood. A miracle before which modern science has bowed. Analysis of the host transformed into flesh has demonstrated that it is tissue of the myocardium.

The miracle of Sienna is also awesome. The consecrated hosts of simple unleavened wheat flour, stolen and then found in August 1730, have not altered in time. Only the consecrated hosts have remained intact, while those that were not consecrated have deteriorated in time.

Modern science has tried every possible means to explain the phenomenon, but has had to admit that it is a miracle. For us, believers, it is a real permanent presence, with forms that are conserved intact for 300 years.

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