How can the Church tackle the problem of educating Catholics on the Eucharist?

By:

They are missing the forest because they see only the trees. This old saying much applies to the news media, and to many Catholics, even many Americans who are not Catholics, when they discuss the current discussion among the bishops regarding the Eucharist. 

The tree is the question of what to do about political figures who profess to be Catholics but support abortion on demand. The forest is the seemingly widespread confusion among Catholics regarding the Eucharist

Back in the day, the old catechisms taught that the consecrated Eucharist was “the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ.” This principle was utterly fundamental to being a Catholic. Now, popular-opinion studies (and no reason exists to deny their findings) say that, by startlingly high numbers, many American Catholics do not hold this ancient belief, or they are imprecise as to what it means. 

Politicians come and go. This broader problem — the forest, not just one tree — is the issue. When a large bloc of Catholics does not believe in the Real Presence, as the reality of Christ in the Eucharist is called, not just bishops or priests, but every Catholic should stop to think. 

More studies are needed. Just knowing the problem, the absence of belief in the Eucharist among many, alerts us to the issue, but how to fix it? 

Is a special age group particularly a concern? Are Catholics, as they mature, as they are affected, and victimized, by the prevailing culture, and as they hear conflicting ideas about religion, more a problem? Quite possibly. 

Are young Catholic adults or adolescents, newcomers to independent thinking, a problem? 

What about current Catholic education? This is a fact. The Catholic school system is a shadow of its former self. In 1960, probably 80% of Catholic children were enrolled in Catholic schools. That day is gone. The quite apparent trend is to close, not open, Catholic schools. 

Has Catholic religious education, outside the schools, picked up the baton and run with it? Do parishes and dioceses apply sufficient resources to programs? Are instructors truly prepared academically? These are good questions, and they must be answered. 

My early priesthood was devoted to religious education for youth who were not in Catholic schools. The job could be frustrating. It was not as if pastors were indifferent or hostile to programs and withheld financial support, but there was no blood to squeeze out of the turnip. 

Parents let other priorities get in the way. In one parish, most of the youth attended the local public high school. A Catholic high school was available, but attending it cost a pretty penny. 

The public high school scheduled football and then basketball practice at the same hour as the parish religious education classes. Guess what won the students’ hearts? The parish changed its schedule. No one dreamed of demanding that the coaches make changes. 

At best, attendance was hit and miss. Parents wanted children to receive first holy Communion, and to a lesser extent be confirmed, but then enthusiasm waned. 

It is not all about educational programs. Western culture is briskly stepping into this pattern. Organized religion is not that important. “It is about me and God. I am spiritual, but I do not go to church.” This is heard every day and everywhere. 

With this assertion goes away any trust in an institution to declare anything, like the Church’s doctrine that the Eucharist is the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ. 

Questioning widens. After doubt, dismissing moral teachings follows. “Who can tell me cohabitation before marriage or racist judgments are wrong?” The last step, all too often, is denying arguments for any almighty, eternal being. Not attending church, people lose access to information and inspiration. The cycle spins. 

Catholics are battling with this flight from traditional religion, as are all other denominations. 

How do these factors affect doctrines such as the Eucharist? 

This article comes to you from OSV Newsweekly (Our Sunday Visitor) courtesy of your parish or diocese.

 

Catholic News & Perspective

Provides information on the Church, the nation and the world from OSV, America's most popular and trusted national Catholic news source


Recent

The greatest Catholic novel of all time? It might be a 100-year-old Norwegian classic

Wednesday, September 15, 2021
By: Russell Shaw If you think a novel set in 14th-century Norway has to be dull, think again. Sigrid Undset’s Kristin... Read More

St. Peter Claver: A patron for race relations

Monday, September 13, 2021
By: Derek Rotty We stand in a moment of American history that calls for a new patron saint in race relations. In recent months and years, we have... Read More

Opening the Word: The hidden Messiah

Friday, September 10, 2021
By: Timothy P. O'Malley “‘But who do you say that I am?'” (Mk 8:29). Jesus asks this question to the disciples near the... Read More

Christian, go home

Wednesday, September 8, 2021
By: David Mills She was peeved. A friend had come across a quote from a “motivational speaker.” “There are too many people who... Read More

The short history of Catholicism in Afghanistan

Monday, September 6, 2021
By: Msgr. Owen F. Campion The news is flooded with reports about the departure of American troops from Afghanistan. Fingers are being pointed,... Read More

Opening the Word: The challenge of James

Friday, September 3, 2021
By: Timothy P. O'Malley James speaks directly — too directly for us, who perhaps like to soften the claims of the Gospel. “My brothers... Read More

Hypocrisy in the Church is ā€˜detestable,ā€™ pope says at audience

Wednesday, September 1, 2021
By: Carol Glatz VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Hypocrites are afraid of the truth, fearful of who they really are and incapable of truly loving, Pope... Read More

Tips for parents looking to pass on the Faith

Monday, August 30, 2021
By: Russell Shaw It’s hard to imagine that anyone who ever raised children found it an entirely easy job. Challenging, exciting, often... Read More

Opening the Word: Defiled heart, defiled hands

Friday, August 27, 2021
By: Timothy P. O'Malley Jesus’ disciples eat with defiled hands. This is a problem not just for those of us still living in COVID-tide.... Read More

The questions we need to be asking about the Mass

Wednesday, August 25, 2021
By: Ava Lalor In the weeks since Pope Francis issued his motu proprio, Traditiones Custodes, I’ve had a lot of people ask me to share my... Read More

Online Giving

Online Giving

Secure and Convenient Donate now!