The discussion about Eucharistic revival and coherence begun by our bishops at their June USCCB conference should be continued among us. Catechists, pastors, parents, bloggers, and journalists, and all of our lay faithful should engage in a continued conversation about this most central gift and mystery of our holy Catholic faith.
We should do so, of course, in reaction to the saddening news of unbelief which shook us in 2019. A Pew research poll revealed that a mere one-third of Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Christ under the sign of bread in what we call “Communion” given and received at every Holy Mass.
“A new Pew Research Center survey finds that most self-described Catholics don’t believe this core teaching. In fact, nearly seven-in-ten Catholics (69 percent) say they personally believe that during Catholic Mass, the bread and wine used in Communion ‘are symbols of the body and blood of Jesus Christ.’ Just one-third of U.S. Catholics (31 percent) say they believe that ‘during Catholic Mass, the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Jesus’” (Pewresearch.org).
When professed Catholics don’t believe in the minimal elements necessary to be so in good standing, we confront a crisis touching upon and putting at risk the salvation of souls. We are saved by grace through faith.
Faced with news that so many baptized Catholics lack a basic understanding of the greatest gift of Christ’s own Body and Blood sacramentally present is a tragedy of eternal proportions. Every soul was created by God to enjoy eternally life with Him. But the gift of salvation can be lost because it can only be received when accepted willingly through faith: belief in all that He teaches and obedience to all that He commands.
St. Paul instructs that if we receive the Lord Eucharistically without discerning His Body and Blood we are “guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord” (1 Cor. 11, 27).
Not only must we be free of mortal sin — that is, in a state of grace, when we receive Communion, we are also required to believe all that the Church teaches about the sacrament. This includes the dogma of the true and Real Presence of Jesus Christ present thus. Transubstantiation is the word the Church has chosen to describe how it happens that, during Holy Mass, what began as mere bread and wine become, under the action of the ordained priest, the Body and Blood of the Lord, the Holy Eucharist.