"IT'S A MIRACLE!"Growing up in southwestern Pennsylvania with five brothers, it was impossible to not become a lifelong fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. So when friends invited me to a wildcard playoff game here in Nashville between the Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills, I went along as a disinterested observer. What are the odds that I would witness arguably the most famous play in Titans' history?!
The Music City Miracle came with just a few ticks left on the clock but catapulted the Titans to a Superbowl appearance in 2000. It's another heart-pumping video moment ending with raucous applause as the crowd goes wild.
We cheer the underdog. We celebrate when the Davids of the world beat the Goliaths. We love when the impossible is made possible. And sports often provide these types of moments. But our Catholic faith provides miracles that far surpass any athletic event. Each and every day, all around the world, Christ comes to us in the Holy Eucharist. Fully present: Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. In fact, this miracle is the one that fueled the charity of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati who said, "Jesus comes to me every morning in Holy Communion. I repay him in my very small way by visiting the poor."
The Church also gives us the assembly of Saints and the plethora of miracles attributed to their intercession. I am often asked to clarify how many miracles are required for a person to be declared a saint. The norm is two: one miracle before beatification, one miracle after beatification. (Of course, Pope Francis has the ability to waive the requirement, as he recently did in the case of St. John XXIII.)
Before talking about the exciting U.S. miracles occurring in the past few years, we should recall the first miracle approved for the beatification of Pier Giorgio. That miracle came in 1933 when the Church officially recognized the healing of Domenico Sellan. At the time, Domenico was 40 years old and suffering from a tubercular disease of the spine, paralyzed and nearing death. A priest visited him on December 28, 1933, and brought him a small prayer card of Pier Giorgio. Domenico was miraculously cured and lived another 35 years.
It wasn't until 1989 that the documentation of this miracle received final approval. Pier Giorgio was declared a Blessed the following year on May 20, 1990.
You may have been lucky enough to have seen one of those same prayer cards with your own eyes. Although rare, many have been in circulation since the beginning of the cause for the canonization of Pier Giorgio. They contain a small piece of the linen from the bed where Pier Giorgio died and are, therefore, considered second-class relics. One of those cards played a significant part in the miracle that occurred in 2009. This miracle is the one we are praying will be approved. More on that tomorrow...
While I am on the topic of relics, it would be worth noting that first-class and third-class relics of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati are not available. The only type ever made were second-class and these can only be acquired by adhering to the formal process which can be read here: How to Obtain a Frassati Relic.
On Day Two of the Novena, let us pray for the grace to comprehend more fully the awesome presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. Let us return to our pews, kneel and silently exclaim, "It's a Miracle!"
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us. Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, pray for us.