USA: Dramatic Loss of Belief in Real Presence – What About UK Catholics? 

Transubstantiation – the idea that during Mass, the bread and wine used for Communion become the body and blood of Jesus Christ – is central to the Catholic faith. Indeed, the Catholic Church teaches that “the Eucharist is ‘the source and summit of the Christian life.’”

But 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%) 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%) say they believe that “during Catholic Mass, the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Jesus.”

In addition to asking Catholics what they believe about the Eucharist, the new survey also included a question that tested whether Catholics know what the church teaches on the subject. Most Catholics who believe that the bread and wine are symbolic do not know that the church holds that transubstantiation occurs. Overall, 43% of Catholics believe that the bread and wine are symbolic and also that this reflects the position of the church. Still, one-in-five Catholics (22%) reject the idea of transubstantiation, even though they know about the church’s teaching.

The vast majority of those who believe that the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Christ – 28% of all Catholics – do know that this is what the church teaches. A small share of Catholics (3%) profess to believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist despite not knowing the church’s teaching on transubstantiation.

About six-in-ten (63%) of the most observant Catholics — those who attend Mass at least once a week — accept the church’s teaching about transubstantiation. Still, even among this most observant group of Catholics, roughly one-third (37%) don’t believe that the Communion bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Christ (including 23% who don’t know the church’s teaching and 14% who know the church’s teaching but don’t believe it). And among Catholics who do not attend Mass weekly, large majorities say they believe the bread and wine are symbolic and do not actually become the body and blood of Jesus   Click here to read more...

Comment: 

This latest research (which confirms previous similar studies in the USA) reveals lots of things, notably the failure to teach the Faith in Catholic schools and pulpits.  This failure is every bit as true here in the UK as it is – manifestly so – in the USA. 

Catholics who reject the dogma of Transubstantiation show ignorance of Sacred Scripture because it was Christ Himself who said:  “For My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink….”  (John 6:56)  He did not even mention “symbols” of His Body, Blood, Soul & Divinity.  He gave us Himself as real food and real drink to sustain us on our spiritual journey and, from the very beginning, this was the belief of all Christians.  

How can this state of affairs be put right, then?  You can’t force someone to believe something but maybe somebody in authority should tell unbelieving Catholics that they are not free to reject any dogma of the Faith and still call themselves Catholics.  That might be a start?  

Since none of us is above temptation, we ought to frequently reflect on the glorious miracle that is Transubstantiation.  Feel free, then, not only to offer your comments on the Pew Center Research findings – especially as it relates to the UK – but post, as well, meditations on the Real Presence, quotes from the saints, favourite hymns and prayers, all with the aim of deepening our awareness and understanding of this wonderful gift from God, which, all too often, as we approach for Holy Communion, we may tend to take for granted.  Do we actually treat the Blessed Sacrament as a mere symbol?  Worth thinking about…  

General Discussion (15)

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26 May: Feast of Corpus Christi

PANIS ANGELICUS (Lyric)
Cesar Franck

Panis angelicus
Fit panis hominum;
Dat panis coelicus
Figuris terminum;
O res mirabilis!
Manducat dominum

Pauper, pauper
Servus et humilis.
Pauper, pauper
Servus et humilis.

Panis angelicus
Fit panis hominum;
Dat panis coelicus
Figuris terminum;
O res mirabilis!
Manducat dominum

Pauper, pauper
Servus et humilis.
Pauper, pauper
Servus, servus et humilis. 
________________
(translation)
HEAVENLY BREAD

Heavenly bread
That becomes the bread for all mankind;
Bread from the angelic host
That is the end of all imaginings.
Oh, miraculous thing!
This body of God will nourish 

Even the poorest,
The most humble of servants.
Even the poorest,
The most humble of servants.

Heavenly bread
That becomes the bread for all mankind;
Bread from the angelic host
That is the end of all imaginings.
Oh, miraculous thing!
This body of God will nourish 

Even the poorest,
The most humble of servants.
Even the poorest,
The most humble of servants.


From the Vatican…


OFFICE FOR THE LITURGICAL CELEBRATIONS 
OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF

 Communion received on the tongue and while kneeling

The most ancient practice of distributing Holy Communion was, with all probability, to give Communion to the faithful in the palm of the hand. The history of the liturgy, however, makes clear that rather early on a process took place to change this practice.

From the time of the Fathers of the Church, a tendency was born and consolidated whereby distribution of Holy Communion in the hand became more and more restricted in favor of distributing Holy Communion on the tongue. The motivation for this practice is two-fold: a) first, to avoid, as much as possible, the dropping of Eucharistic particles; b) second, to increase among the faithful devotion to the Real Presence of Christ in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

Saint Thomas Aquinas also refers to the practice of receiving Holy Communion only on the tongue. He affirms that touching the Body of the Lord is proper only to the ordained priest.

Therefore, for various reasons, among which the Angelic Doctor cites respect for the Sacrament, he writes: “. . . out of reverence towards this Sacrament, nothing touches it, but what is consecrated; hence the corporal and the chalice are consecrated, and likewise the priest’s hands, for touching this Sacrament. Hence, it is not lawful for anyone else to touch it except from necessity, for instance, if it were to fall upon the ground, or else in some other case of urgency” (Summa Theologiae, III, 82, 3).

Over the centuries the Church has always characterized the moment of Holy Communion with sacredness and the greatest respect, forcing herself constantly to develop to the best of her ability external signs that would promote understanding of this great sacramental mystery. In her loving and pastoral solicitude the Church has made sure that the faithful receive Holy Communion having the right interior dispositions, among which dispositions stands out the need for the Faithful to comprehend and consider interiorly the Real Presence of Him Whom they are to receive. (See The Catechism of Pope Pius X, nn. 628 & 636). The Western Church has established kneeling as one of the signs of devotion appropriate to communicants. A celebrated saying of Saint Augustine, cited by Pope Benedict XVI in n. 66 of his Encyclical Sacramentum Caritatis, (“Sacrament of Love”), teaches: “No one eats that flesh without first adoring it; we should sin were we not to adore it” (Enarrationes in Psalmos 98, 9). Kneeling indicates and promotes the adoration necessary before receiving the Eucharistic Christ.

From this perspective, the then-Cardinal Ratzinger assured that: “Communion only reaches its true depth when it is supported and surrounded by adoration” [The Spirit of the Liturgy(Ignatius Press, 2000), p. 90]. For this reason, Cardinal Ratzinger maintained that “the practice of kneeling for Holy Communion has in its favor a centuries-old tradition, and it is a particularly expressive sign of adoration, completely appropriate in light of the true, real and substantial presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ under the consecrated species” [cited in the Letter “This Congregation” of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 1 July 1, 2002].

John Paul II, in his last Encyclical, Ecclesia de Eucharistia (“The Church comes from the Eucharist”), wrote in n. 61: “By giving the Eucharist the prominence it deserves, and by being careful not to diminish any of its dimensions or demands, we show that we are truly conscious of the greatness of this gift. We are urged to do so by an uninterrupted tradition, which from the first centuries on has found the Christian community ever vigilant in guarding this ‘treasure.’ Inspired by love, the Church is anxious to hand on to future generations of Christians, without loss, her faith and teaching with regard to the mystery of the Eucharist. There can be no danger of excess in our care for this mystery, for ‘in this sacrament is recapitulated the whole mystery of our salvation.’” 

In continuity with the teaching of his Predecessor, starting with the Solemnity of Corpus Christi in the year 2008, the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, began to distribute to the faithful the Body of the Lord, by placing it directly on the tongue of the faithful as they remain kneeling.  Source – Vatican website

From the Catholic Truth Team…

Happy Feast Day!

Comment:

As always on these devotional threads, readers are invited to discuss any relevant issues, but also to post favourite prayers, hymns, stories – you name it… 

Reminder:  if you wish to post a video straight onto the page instead of merely the link, then you right click on the video screen (as it’s playing, if you wish) to select “copy embed code”.  Then go to the comment box here, and right click to select “paste”.  Submit the comment and when it goes up, you will see that the video itself has appeared, not just the link.  Now, (I hear you saying) there’s a hint to post some of the lovely hymns of adoration to the Blessed Sacrament! Whatever – Happy Feast of Corpus Christi to all bloggers and visitors to this site … Enjoy!