This is NOT a bleeding Host. No. Pfft. Imagine the fiasco that would have caused. Here’s a timeline and some important circumstances:
Last Friday, December 6, I personally prepared the chalice for Mass, as always, without exception. I put a celebrant altar bread (a bit larger than those used for the congregation so that it can be seen by the whole church at various part of the Mass) on the paten. A paten is a purpose made small usually gold-plated plate used for some parts of the Mass. I wasn’t paying much attention assembling the chalice, purificator, paten with altar bread, pall, chalice veil, burse with corporal together nicely symmetrically to place on the altar. My bad that I wasn’t paying attention. One should look for defects in the altar bread.
Then it came time for the offertory half way through Mass. That’s when I saw what looked like three reddish smears, like three fingers only slightly wet with a reddish substance that had been smeared across that particular altar bread. That alarmed me, as this would indicate that someone’s whole hand had been soaked in some weird material and that they had purposely smeared their fingers across that altar bread. I mean, it’s so very lightweight, weighing basically nothing, so that a mere touch will move it. Either you pick it up or it moves with you, but you won’t smear it unless you’re holding it purposely in place just for that purpose. Creepy. Brrrr. I immediately took the altar bread back into the makeshift “sacristy” of our tiniest of all parish churches and threw it away in the trash. I was not bleeding at all. I washed my hands anyway. I was creeped out. I got another altar bread from the sealed container in the sacristy fridge (which upon very careful examination, was clean) and brought it out to the altar, put it on the paten, and continued Mass. That was annoying. We get our altar breads through the Poor Clares at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Alabama, good friends. They get them from a national distributor without any packages being opened. We’ve never had a problem. Don’t be scandalized that I threw that altar bread away. It was not consecrated. And there was no Eucharistic miracle.
Successive Masses over the weekend, December 7-8: no problem.
Monday Noon Mass for the Immaculate Conception: In preparing the chalice once again before Mass there was a difficulty. I opened the container in which we keep the celebrant altar breads in the little sacristy fridge and the top altar bread looked just fine. I tried to grab just the top one in the little container. No go. I fumbled a bit with it, and realized that it was stuck to the one below it. Figuring it was just a bit of humidity that had slightly welded the altar breads together I tried to get them apart, and they did come apart. Being curious, I examined them more closely, both sides each. That’s when I saw the red material pictured on that altar bread above.
It looked like some stage blood. Notice the weird coagulation as the color draws together through what must be an oily substance. That’s not how blood works. Real blood would stain the alter bread and then coagulate. Unless it was real blood, just mixed with something else to make it look, you know, vibrant!, alive!, like some oily substance would. At any rate, it doesn’t soak into the bread, but just stays on top.
Again I checked my fingers to see if I was bleeding, and, indeed, I did have some red on my index finger. What a relief that it was just me bleeding, thought I. And, the blood on my finger had the same shape as that longer stain. Great! But then, upon thoroughly washing my hands there was no cut, no bruise, nothing. What had been on my finger had come from that altar bread, not vice-versa. Grrr…
But maybe it was just some red wine that was on my fingers, surely, after putting some wine in the wine cruet. In writing this, I had to do an experiment, going back up to the church campus and into the sacristy and getting an altar bread and putting a couple of drops on it:
The two drops were immediately soaked up and spread out, disintegrating the altar bread into gloppiness, the opposite reaction from the other. I put some red wine on my fingers. I couldn’t even see it. It’s clear when you put it on your fingers, and flows off, not like my experience with this other substance above. I even tried to get some older wine around the cruet stopper. No, nothing.
Because of the difficulty in staining these two altar breads, which I only noticed once on Friday and then once on Monday, and the way they were stained, I just cannot imagine that this was just a sloppy worker of the company which produces these breads. Zero chance of that. And in that case it would all have been long dried. The three fingers thing is just too weird in the Friday incident. That was purposed, malicious. But why?
Imagine if events had played out differently and there’s a near 100% chance that would have been the case:
What if the bright red stain on the more recent Monday incident were on the lower side of the altar bread so that I just placed it on the paten not noticing anything wrong, seeing only the top side with no stain? What if I had gone through the consecration and lifted it up for all to adore, Jesus Himself, as is said throughout the Gospels and Saint Paul? I wouldn’t see anything, just the clean side of the Host, but everyone else would immediately see what they thought was a “bleeding” Host, and they would all gasp and cry out that the Host is bleeding. Mayhem would ensue. “It’s a Eucharistic miracle! It’s a Eucharistic miracle!”
The fraud would have immediately been brought to light, not only because of the logistics of the stains described above, but because the material is clearly not blood, or at least not blood alone. It had not coagulated but was still sticky for very many days (and who knows how many days or weeks before Friday in that container in the fridge), indicating that it’s probably stage-blood. I would have been accused of grave manipulation. The Church would have been discredited not only in this region, but all around. People would have lost sight of Jesus who truly is present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Most Blessed Sacrament, as our Lord Jesus Himself said at the Last Supper united with Calvary: This is my Body now being given up for you… in sacrifice, the Chalice of my Blood now being poured out for you… in sacrifice. What a blow to the Church such stage-blood or whatever it was would be. Stage-blood is so very cynical. Demonic, really.
But God will not be mocked. The angels dislike such shenanigans. It’s so deeply offensive to their Creator and ours. I wouldn’t want to be on the bad side of good angels.
Humanly speaking, I’m sure a Federal Court would agree that such a hate crime blatantly violates the free exercise of religion as guaranteed in the Constitution of these United States. Doing such things can put a perp in prison.
UPDATE: So, I was preparing the chalice and paten for Mass the other day, putting, of course, another celebrant altar bread on the paten. I’ve learned to examine the altar breads rather closely these days, and, again I found another stained altar bread, though it’s probably from the same incident described above. It’s just a small stain, with the same red, in the lower left near the center of the altar bread pictured below (the smallness of the stain being why I missed it in my examination of all the altar breads after the incident described above):
My comment on this is the same as further above: Grrr…