I was struck by this article with the most recent Pew Survey and the follow up tweet and video from Bishop Barron (see below).
Some of the interesting facts from the research are that among Catholics who attend Mass at least weekly only 5 out of 8 believe in the Real Presence. 5 out of 8, wow! Among self-identified Catholics, 69% believe that the Eucharist is ‘just a symbol’ and not the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.
I’m not surprised by any of this, maybe you are, maybe not. I appreciated Bishop Barron’s video (embedded below) … take a watch, it’s worth the 5 minutes.
After watching you might have one of two reactions. The article outlines these like this:
Bishop Barron sounded astounded by the findings. “Any Catholic worth his or her salt knows this is a central teaching,” he said in the video. “It’s a basic tenet of Catholicism.”
He said some are bound to react, “Oh, well, who cares? As long as they’re committed to the poor, or committed to social justice. Isn’t that important?” But Bishop Barron called that “a reduction of religion to morality, which is repugnant to Catholicism.”Source
So what’s a parish leader to do? Does it even matter?
I’ll answer the second question first – “YES it matters.” It matters because this is a teaching that has been hard from the beginning but the Lord didn’t waiver. When He told the people (see John 6) that they were going to eat His flesh and drink His blood to have eternal life, some walked away. He didn’t back down and say “Oh, you’re mistaken, you took Me too seriously. I didn’t me EAT ME, I meant, it’ll be a symbol, you know, a reminder. Come back. It’s easier than you think.”
So what can we do as a parish to promote a deeper relationship with the Lord in the Eucharist? I’ve got a few ideas:
- Preach about the Eucharist. Don’t wait for Corpus Christi or First Communion – Jesus is relevant every Sunday of the year! Some people don’t believe it because they haven’t heard it from the pulpit in a while.
- Create a series of short bulletin articles and/or social media posts talking about the Eucharist, what the Church teaches, the beauty, and the opportunity we have to become one with the Lord in communion.
- Create a very reverent feeling during Communion time with the music choices and some extra time in silent reflection.
- Hold a Eucharistic Procession this fall.
- Have a parish-wide Eucharistic Holy Hour with a reflection, music, and time in silence.
- Host a Parish Mission with the Eucharist as the primary topic.
- Focus on the teachings of the Eucharist in all Faith Formation Classes, not just 2nd grade to raise children with this beautiful teaching as a foundation.
- Have quick reminders for parishioners about how to genuflect, receive communion, and general reverence in Church to promote a culture where Christ is reverenced at all times.
Those are just some ideas, I know there are more! What does your parish do to promote a sense of reverence and awe surrounding Christ in the Eucharist? Share your ideas in the comments!