Knights of the Holy Eucharist Call Us to Genuine Eucharistic Faith
Real apostolate: Community works to strengthen Catholic belief in Christ's Eucharistic presence
Founded in 1998 for the service of the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament and the protection of the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration residing at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Hanceville, AL, the Knights live totally committed to adoring our Eucharistic King and to making known His Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist.
HANCEVILLE, AL (Catholic Online) - The survey data of nearly two decades ago sent shock waves throughout much of the Catholic Church: According to a 1992 Roper poll and a later 1994 New York Times/CBS News poll, as many as 70 percent of U.S. Catholics no longer believed in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist - the fundamental Catholic doctrine that the bread and wine consecrated by the priest at Mass become the true body and blood, soul, and divinity of Christ while the appearances of bread and wine remain.
Even when one adjusts the data to include only Catholics who attend Mass regularly, the numbers remain startling, resulting in no small amount of finger-pointing as to the root cause of this apparent diminishment in so vital an aspect of the Faith.
Many of the Catholic faithful and their leaders refused to take this depressing news lying down. In fact, the posture for many became that of kneeling down-stepping up the practice and promotion of Eucharistic adoration as a way of fostering sound catechesis and reverence for the Real Presence.
In the intervening years, popes, bishops, pastors, and lay organizations have encouraged this pious practice in word and action. Youth retreat apostolates increasingly have incorporated adoration of the Blessed Sacrament into their work. Dioceses and archdioceses, including St. Louis, Atlanta, San Antonio, Bridgeport, and St. Paul-Minneapolis, have vigorously worked at establishing Eucharistic exposition and Benediction in their parishes.
If the anecdotal evidence is any indication, it's working: Everywhere the adoration of the Eucharist is fostered, pastors and lay leaders report dramatic response from the faithful. According to the website of the Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association there are now more than 7,100 sites across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico where regular exposition of the Blessed Sacrament is offered. Of these, 830-including at least one in 49 of the 50 states-offer perpetual adoration, where the consecrated Eucharist is exposed in a monstrance 24 hours a day for worship.
Leaders of various dioceses often have reported fruits that they attribute in part to this strengthening of Eucharistic faith, including increases in priestly and religious vocations and greater lay involvement in parish life. In the Diocese of Bridgeport, CT, for example, the number of seminarians reportedly rose 50 percent within the first year after a Perpetual Adoration chapel was established more than a decade ago at St. John Fisher Seminary, the diocesan house of formation in Stamford.
Newer surveys have shed more light on the present state of belief. A 2008 American National Election Study found that 74 percent of Catholics "believe" the bread and wine consecrated at Mass become the body and blood of Christ; however, this percentage includes those who view this presence as symbolic rather than substantial. Not surprisingly, a 2010 Pew Education Center survey reported that only 55 percent of Catholics know it is Church teaching that "the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Jesus Christ." While these figures may be more comforting than those of the early 1990s, they also reveal much work to be done in catechetical and devotional education.
Enter the Knights of the Holy Eucharist, a relatively new consecrated community of men dedicated to advancing this profound truth of the Faith. Founded in 1998 for the service of the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament and the protection of the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration residing at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Hanceville, AL, the Knights live totally committed to adoring our Eucharistic King and to making known His Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist.
Brother David Mary, a co-founder of the Knights of the Eucharist along with Mother Angelica of Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) fame, is the superior of the community. He sees the polling and the trends across the nation as offering mixed signals as to the scope and severity of the crisis of faith, an issue that often has indeterminable roots.
"It is difficult to say for sure what is happening in the country regarding belief in the Real Presence," said Brother David in a recent interview. "We continue to hear both positive and negative reports regarding parish life. It is hard to say why so many people find it hard to believe in the Real Presence."
Yet he also sees signs of hope among the faithful, although it is borne in the pain and near-desperation of a world jaded from the excesses of sin and excessive self-reliance. Amid this ...
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