On two separate occasions Catholics on retreat at a parish in Jacksonville, Florida, have reported remarkable images in and around exposition of the large Host known as the Blessed Sacrament.
The events were recorded at St. Joseph’s Church in the Mandarin area of the city and join a growing number of reports concerning Eucharistic phenomena from around the world — as if to remind that world of the True Presence.
A few days ago we reported the spiritual benefits of adoration in front of the Host and quoted a woman who claimed to see a radiant mist in connection with it. The phenomena often go beyond that, to reports of details and visual effects witnessed — as in the case of Jacksonville — by dozens of people.
The events began on November 6, 1999, and were also witnessed by priests, including Father Bernard Ahern, a retired Navy chaplain who recounted that in the midst of the retreat — the middle of Saturday afternoon — a woman came into the room "hysterically" crying that she had seen Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, which was exposed during the retreat.
"I then went into the chapel myself to find out what was happening, and I, also, saw the Face of Jesus in the Eucharist," the priest told two chroniclers of the events, who produced a booklet on the occurrences. "The color of the image was a sepia color, a light brown and white. There were many other people who also saw Him. I was skeptical and thought that there might be some shadows in the back of the monstrance, or light in front of it causing the image. But I found no basis for this after checking the surrounding area, and realized I saw what I saw."
I heard about this after it originally happened. The Pastor of my parish, Fr. Leon, told our Carmelite group about it. The two priests involved had contacted him after it happened and he had asked them why they hadn’t notified the Bishop during the almost hour that it was observed. He told us that the priest felt rather foolish for not calling the Bishop immediately. This happened in the chapel of what was the older Church built before there new Church was built. They are still maintaining the older Church since it is part of the grounds where they have a school. Even though this is pretty close to where I live I have never visited their previous Chapel. While I found the story interesting and relying on my pastor’s opinion to be credible, I don’t worry about following signs. That Jesus is in the Eucharist is already something I firmly believe and I would prefer to rely on the eyes of faith.
Fr. Leon also told us that one of the people there that he talked to was upset that his wife who is a convert saw it and that he as a cradle Catholic did not. I would hope that I myself would not react that way. That hopefully I would rejoice in a visible sign given my wife and to rejoice that perhaps God thought that my faith was strong enough with out it.