May 2, 2012
Some years ago, I was teaching Eucharistic theology to a class of college students. A non-Catholic raised her hand with a stunning declaration: “If I believed that the bread and wine were changed into the Body and Blood of Christ, I would want to be nourished on that food every day.”
America Magazine has just published a survey entitled “Why They Left,” co-authored by Fr. William J. Byron, S.J. and Dr. Charles Zech. The exodus from the Church continues for various reasons, among them matters dealing with the Eucharist, its ritual, preaching, and other particulars of the liturgy. The respondents of report, for the most part, are “willing to separate themselves from the celebration and reception of the Eucharist.” The conclusion of the report calls for “a creative liturgical, doctrinal, and practical response.” At the root of this crisis is a weakened faith or loss of faith. A single viewing of programs like Dr. Phil and Judge Judy suggests that, for the average man and woman entangled in the weeds of life, religious faith, Catholic or otherwise, can be the farthest thing from their minds.
America, the Skeptical
Americans doubt government and elected leaders, public trust–banks, hospitals, and law enforcement, and church leaders. Increasing numbers of Catholics doubt the efficacy of the Eucharist. Trying to grasp the meaning of Catholic teachings is a laudable practice, and belief in the Eucharist seeks understanding of it, the first of which is giving thanks to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for creation, redemption, and sanctification.