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Our eyes can play tricks on us. All of us have thought we saw something, and discovered it was only a mirage, an illusion. “Magicians”, like Robert Houdin, his admirer Houdini, and the stars of Las Vegas, were and are masters at mystifying us, making us believe that we have witnessed what others might call a miracle. Sometimes we deceive ourselves and think we see something that turns out to be a false, mistaken perception. A little girl, said to have been “run over” by a bus, arrives in the Emergency Ward. According to an article published by the local Catholic Archdiocese, “at one point doctors were convinced her shin had a fracture … but the next day the plaster was removed for treatment” and “there was no sign of a break”. The doctors thought they had seen signs of a fracture and were in fact convinced of it. But it turned out that there was no fracture at all. The “cure” was declared by many to be a “miracle”, attributed to either a Miraculous Medal, a papal kiss or earnest prayer (see my post of May 22, 2015).

Recent comments on this Blog have concerned the “miracle” of “transubstantiation”. It seems pointless to pursue the sterile discussion about form and substance. People who believe that what was, and still looks like, a wafer of bread, has become, because of the words of consecration, the very Body of Christ, should reread our post “Gobbledygook” of July 28, 2014 :

“The preposterous, gratuitous Catholic claim for the Eucharist inspired the British comedian Tommy Cooper to use his ‘magic’ to transform two scarves into rabbits, insisting with a perfectly straight face that by another even greater feat of magic he had made them to continue to look like the scarves they had been, instead of the rabbits they now really were.” The post ends with : “It is no coincidence that the origin of ‘hocus pocus’ is, precisely, ‘Hoc est enim corpus meum’ “.

If Catholic believers’ faith in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is not shaken by this hilarious send-up of their own credulity, nothing will ever convince them that their faith has made them blind. I hear some of these believers asking me, as the Pharisees asked Jesus after the “miracle” of restoring sight to the man born blind : “You are not calling us blind, are you ?” (John 9:40). My answer is more explicit but less judgmental than that which Jesus gave in the following verse. I say simply, “Yes !”

RIDENDA RELIGIO

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