Wednesday, December 01, 2004


The whole issue of the Holy Eucharist and germs discussed here reminds me of an incident in the life of the English Carthusian monk, St. John Houghton - protomartyr of the Henry VIII's persecution of the Church. Here it is from the writings of Dom Maurice Chauncy (maybe an upcoming title for Requiem Press) , an eyewitness to the life and circumstances of St. John Hougton's life:

During the time he [John Houghton] was in this office [of Sacristan], this thing occurred which is worthy of all remembrance. A certain devout Father, attacked by a pestilential disease, was near his end; who, when he had received the Body of our Lord, was unable, through extreme weakness, to swallow It, and at once cast It forth. The Father Vicar, in the absence of the Father Prior, gathered up the Sacred Host, together with all that had been cast forth, and took It to the cell of this holy Father, John Houghton, then sacristan, to be burnt. A fire having been lighted, these Fathers contended together which of them should cast It in — neither of them presuming to do this, It was reserved for two days. On the third day the devoted sacristan separated, as far as he could, the venerable Sacra­ment of the Body of Christ from the uncleanness with which It was mixed, and placed It in a chalice, intending to consume It on his next celebration. But previously he called to him (remembered) a certain devout Lay-brother, to whom God had frequently revealed with certainty many things, as was known through-out the house (for whatever he asked of God, God immediately gave him an answer, so familiar was he and so pleasing and dear to God). To him, therefore, the Father Sacristan communicated his intention, requesting him in so difficult a matter to pray to God, to know His good pleasure, for he was afraid to burn It, and had some kind of horror in con­suming it. The Lay-brother, to fulfil the commands laid on him, earnestly besought the Divine clemency to deign to give him in this matter some indication, and behold at Matins, being in an ecstasy, he saw a great multitude, whom no man could number, clothed in white, each carrying a lighted wax taper, enter the sacristy, in measured step, and proceed to the place where the Body of Jesus lay, and there adoring with the utmost reverence, opened the chest, which was closed, and having made, here a brief delay, disappeared. But what in the meanwhile they did there, remained unknown to the Brother who saw these things. But the Brother having come to himself, asked the sacristan in the morning, whether in such a place he had deposited the aforesaid particles of the most holy Body of Christ, and on his answering yes, he at once understood what he had seen. The most devout Father Sacristan having heard this, putting aside all fear, both of death and nausea, prepared himself at once with all alacrity to celebrate Mass, during which he reverently and with affection received that which had been set aside; but no one knows but he who received It, how glorious that chalice was to him. Truly inebriating It was, so far as those who stood by were able to perceive. He feared not death who received the Author of Life, nor sickness who swallowed Him Who heals all diseases, nor had he nausea from what had been cast forth, because he tasted in spirit how sweet the Lord is."

From the small holding in Bethune .....

Oremus pro invicem!

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