ChurchPOP got the priest who led the Turnpike Mass to weigh in on the Eucharistic miracle question.
We previously reported that one of the students who helped build the Turnpike Mass snow altar said there may have been a Eucharistic multiplication miracle. Despite there only being around 40 hosts and around 500 people present, “the hosts were able to be distributed to everyone,” the student said, “all down to the last person, who then received the last particles inside the priest’s chalice. There was exactly enough hosts for everyone.” You can read his full account here.
Others who also attended the Turnpike Mass responded on Facebook that they didn’t think there was any miracle. “This is not true, unfortunately,” one person said. “I was at this beautiful Mass and did not receive the Holy Eucharist. There were about 30 from our bus who attended, including a priest, and none of us received and there were people around us who did not receive.” Another person said their daughter was present and wrote, “The priests only had about 20 hosts so very few people were able to receive the Eucharist.”
There’s yet a third account floating around social media saying that they actually had 300 hosts to begin with.
ChurchPOP previously interviewed the priest who led the Turnpike Mass, Fr. Patrick Behm. So we connected with him again to get his take on the situation. Here’s what he said:
All of the priests present combined the hosts that we had. Prior to Mass, we broke them because we knew we would have to break them into tiny fragments. I didn’t break any, but one of the priests said he broke them into 1/8th sections. I personally probably provided between 30-40 hosts, but I’m not sure. I’m quite certain no one had 300. I’m also quite certain there was no miracle beyond the miracle of transubstantiation.
But, I do know that everyone present received Communion. So, I suppose you could say that the miracle (though I would hesitate to call it that) was the miracle that we broke into just the right number of pieces.
So the priest agrees with the student on the basic facts, he’s just less inclined to interpret them as a miracle. But both the student and the priest disagree with the other commenters. What accounts for the conflicting stories?
Here’s one possible way to harmonize the seemingly conflicting accounts:
They really did have a limited number of hosts and broke them into smaller pieces. It appeared as though they had just enough hosts for everyone to receive communion at the Mass because, perhaps, everyone who tried to receive communion did. It’s possible that due to the large number of people attending and the fact people knew they had a limited number of hosts, some people didn’t even try to receive. Or at least they didn’t go up after seeing they had run out.
All of this could give the perception that everyone had received. And given the small number of hosts they had to begin with compared to the size of the group, it could make it appear that hosts had been multiplied.
At least that’s one possible explanation of the situation.