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WHAT? Only one-third of US Catholics say they believe in the True Presence
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The most important teaching in Catholic life is the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. This is taught in every catechism class from elementary age on, at every Catholic school and parish. So, it is shocking that a Pew study shows only one-third of U.S. Catholics believe in this fundamental doctrine.
Eucharistic miracles have been observed around the world, throughout history.
LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - According to new data from the Pew Research Center, only one-third of Catholics believe Christ is truly present in the Eucharist. This is a shocking notion, since the Eucharist is the "source and summit of ecclesiastical life," (CCC 1324).
Pew released the report on July 23, and it revealed that half of U.S. Catholics do not know the Church teaches the Eucharist is the actual Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. The other half see the Eucharist as a mere symbol of Christ, and four percent admitted they did not know what the Church taught either way.
Now, last week Pew released additional data which shows only 31 percent, or about one-third of U.S. Catholics believe the Body and Blood of Christ is present in the Eucharist.
This means that only a half of Catholics in the U.S., understand that the Church teaches about the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and a third believe it.
The study also asked about attendance at Mass. Two-thirds of respondents say they attend weekly or more. This means a significant portion of those receiving the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist, do not believe it is the Body and Blood of Christ.
It should be noted that if Christ is not present in the Eucharist, then there is no reason to kneel during Mass, since we kneel because of the Real Presence of Christ!
This is a serious problem, and it speaks directly to why the Church in the United States is plagued with poor attendance and a lack of religious vocations, at least in some areas. Catholics do not understand their faith, and have much to learn. This is tragic for many reasons, and not simply for the souls that are missing this essential instruction. It means that millions of Catholics do not understand or appreciate their faith. They are missing out on the incredible treasure that is the Roman Catholic Church.
The Roman Catholic Church was established by Jesus Christ Himself, as can be observed in the Book of Matthew (Matt 16:17-19). It went on to become a cornerstone of the late Roman Empire and is the last surviving institution of that imperial civilization. It was the guardian of civilization during the "dark ages," it preserved much of our knowledge of the ancient world during the medieval period, was a major player in the Renaissance, and provided a beacon of morality through to the present day. At every moment of its history, great saints have lived, teaching, writing, and contributing an incredible legacy of philosophy and knowledge that has influenced our systems of justice and law, and contributed to the moral development of human civilization. The Church is the largest single religious organization in the world, with more than one billion members, and it remains a beacon of light and hope, and speaks with an authoritative voice on all moral issues. And this is just its secular role in civilization. Its spiritual contributions simply cannot be measured.
Catholics who do not appreciate or understand their faith are missing out.
There are solutions to this problem.
First, the Catechism of the Catholic Church provides clear instruction on this topic, which can be read in a few minutes. If a person finds the information hard to understand, a question to a priest or deacon may be quite helpful.
Second, it is important that Catholics seek instruction on this topic, and ensure their children are properly instructed as well. Parish priests must also be emphatic about this instruction, ensuring that their catechists are teaching about the Real Presence. And they should also make this a point of instruction at Mass. It must be made clear to people that this is not some sort of New Age "woo," but rather something that is clearly taught in the Bible, and is a required article of faith.
Third, Catholics must accept this belief. It can certainly be difficult to believe in that which is physically impossible to explain. After all, in our modern scientific age, we expect everything to be measurable. That's what it means to be natural and scientific. As Galileo explained, "Measure what can be measured, make measurable what is not." But understand this: God is supernatural! God cannot be measured, nor can His miracles be explained by science. That is what supernatural means. And we know miracles occur, for they have been documented, and defy explanation.
The Eucharist is no less a miracle, for it exists, and Christ is present, yet the miracle cannot be explained. It is a mystery, which must be encountered. This is why we are called to have faith. If a person struggles with faith, then prayer, study, and perhaps a conversation with a priest or deacon may help.
Catholic Online School will soon offer a course on Confirmation coming in early September. That course will also include instruction on the Eucharist. Additional courses on this topic are planned in the months to come. You can enroll in Catholic Online School here, and all courses are free.
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