“However, although these persons consider themselves ‘Catholic’ as a demographic category, they haven’t and don’t practice the Catholic faith, and they haven't made much effort to learn what the Catholic Church teaches.”
He called for better catechesis, especially in parish and school settings, to counter the lack of belief shown in the survey.
For Bergsma, a former Protestant pastor who once preached vehemently against the Catholic Church, a big factor in his conversion was encountering the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist.
“Jesus said, ‘This is my body … this is my blood.’ Every Christian who claims to follow Christ should take him at his word and believe in the Real Presence,” he said.
“The early Christians surely did, and reading the earliest Christian writings on the Eucharist is what converted me on this issue...For those who don’t know or reject the Church’s teaching, I would encourage them to give it a chance. Read, for example, what the Catechism says about the Eucharist, and ponder it with an open mind.”
Father Bradley Zamora, director of liturgy at Mundelein Seminary in Illinois, told CNA that the Eucharist— and what the Church teaches about it— is the “very core” of the Catholic faith, and the fact that it seems to be so misunderstood is disheartening.
“As a person of faith, as someone who has chosen to follow Christ as a disciple, you have to be willing to enter into the narrative of what we believe,” he said.
“You have to be willing to give your heart completely to Christ, you have to put on eyes of faith, you have to open your ears to the very voice of Christ. This is the disposition, as difficult as it may be, that our faith begs of us. When we gather for the Eucharist we see and hear things happening in front of us, but beneath what we see and what we hear is the very Paschal Mystery coming to life before our eyes.”
Zamora, like Bergsma, emphasized the need for better catechesis and teaching about the basic tenets of the Catholic faith. He also said that Catholics do themselves a “disservice” as a Church when they don’t speak about the mysteries of the faith as often as they can. As a seminary professor, he said he tries to bring his seminarians back to the reality of the Real Presence constantly as he teaches them how to celebrate Mass.
“When we pronounce the words of the institution narrative, ‘This is my body,’ and ‘This is my blood,’ it is Christ Himself who prays those words again in our time and space just as He did at the Last Supper,” Zamora explained.
“What we do when we gather for prayer is not some stage play, but rather we re-present the very mystery Christ instituted.”
(Story continues below)
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