Bishop Steven Lopes has responded in a most instructive way to the disturbing recent Pew Research study showing 70 per cent of Catholics in America do not believe in Real Presence in the Eucharist.
In an interview with Peter Jesserer Smith at the National Catholic Register, Bishop Lopes explains that better catechesis is not necessarily the solution:
I am sympathetic with the idea that we need better and more effective catechesis. I remember the catechesis before the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and catechesis after the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. So in other words, the resources are there, the catechesis is there. The catechesis today is in really much better shape. So there’s a “yes, but …” if you will, when I hear “well, we need better catechesis.” Well yes, but we can’t make it an intellectual thing alone. Because God and Christ’s gift of himself in the Eucharist is not an idea. It’s not an idea to be captured by the mind. It is a true self-gift. It is a personal gift of Christ to his Church, to the soul of the believer.
And therefore, as a personal gift, it has to be understood and received as a real person, which involves so many more aspects of the person rather than the mind. So worship – “the worship of God in the beauty of holiness,” as we say in the Psalms, has to involve the whole person. It has to capture all of the senses: sight, and smell and touch and even taste. That beauty in worship takes the faith in the real presence and makes it experienced; it makes it something that can be experienced. So the Ordinariate’s accent on beauty in worship — they all say we take worship very seriously and we do because it’s a very serious thing — it is the appearance of God on Earth, and receiving the gift of Christ’s self-gift is a tremendous thing.
On Saturday, I went to a Mass in a suburban neighborhood in Ottawa at a church built in the 1970s. The tabernacle was located in a small separate chapel off to the side. There’s another church like this not far from me that I sometimes attend for weekday masses.
I think this kind of church architecture was fashionable after the Second Vatican Council when there seemed to be a stress on Jesus present in the Body of Christ as the People of God and a shift from seeing the Blessed Sacrament alone as the Body of Christ. Continue reading