“More than 10 years ago, the bishops really sort of tried to take by the handle catechesis in our country because they realized that several things in common catechetical texts were misrepresenting the truth about Catholic theology and one of those was the Eucharist,” he said.
“That's where the bishops started this very intensive catechism review for all catechetical texts and we're still getting our hands around all that, but it pointed to a problem that was very real in catechesis,” he added. “And some of that reality in catechesis also really flowed into our liturgy.”
Cozzens said that the liturgy of the Mass has not always had true reverence “that would help to carry forth the meaning of the truth of both the sacrifice of the Mass and Jesus' presence and the Eucharist.”
Cozzens said that at times “we placed more emphasis on the communal dimension of the liturgy, which is a very important dimension, but sometimes to the detriment of the reality of what's happening at the Mass and who we're encountering.”
How to restore belief in the Eucharist
“Good liturgy follows the General Instruction of the Roman Missal,” Cozzens said, while noting that the General Instruction allows for variations within the liturgy. He said if the Missal is followed, “that alone contributes to reverence of the Eucharist.”
When asked if liturgical changes such as Communion in the hand and celebration versus populum had contributed to disbelief in the Eucharist, Cozzens said, “I am hesitant to believe that certain particular ritual changes will solve all our problems.”
Cozzens said he believes that “we ought to receive Communion reverently,” while adding that he has seen people receiving on the hand with so much reverence that it has brought him to tears “because you can tell how much they believe in Jesus in the real presence.”
“I also think it's very beautiful when people receive Communion on the tongue, or even when people receive Communion kneeling and I appreciate the reverence that they're showing for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament there,” he said.
Cozzens said that he trusts the Church in its judgement to permit Communion on the hand and Mass said versus populum, and noted that there “may come a day when the Church in general says, ‘yeah, we think it's better to go back to Communion on the tongue.’”
However, he said it would be difficult to say Communion on the hand was a mistake, “because a lot of evidence that we have shows that Communion on the hand preceded Communion on the tongue for centuries.”
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Cozzens praised the writings of Benedict XVI on Mass said ad orientem, which communicated his thoughts that “it would be too much of a dramatic change to try to change that back, at least right now and that it was better to try to do the versus populum liturgy well because something was gained for many people in their experience of the liturgy by being able to see more of what the action of the priest is.”
Cozzens told CNA that people often bring concerns to him about irreverent liturgy, and liturgical abuse.
He said that he recommends to those people that they sit for an hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament in adoration once a week and that they “offer that holy hour for the struggles that their parish is having and for the people in [their] parish.”
Anger is a normal reaction when holy things are not treated properly, Cozzens said, but, “that kind of anger needs to be converted into deeper love and sacrifice in order to be able to be used by the Lord in a spiritual, for the good of his Church.”
Cozzens also recommends starting a small group with friends to study the Eucharist and sit in adoration together as a witness.
“I think it's wonderful that [the movie] is in Spanish because we have so many Latino Catholics in the United States, many of them great lovers of our Lord in the Eucharist,” Cozzens said.