The U.S. Catholic bishops are planning a multi-year, $28 million nationwide eucharistic revival to focus on “real presence,” leaving some observers to question the price tag, the revival’s premise and the bishops’ motives.
If bishops are worried about falling mass attendance and leaving the church, I have a suggestion: investigate the real reasons people are leaving. As mentioned in the article, only the bishops would imagine that the main reason is the lack of belief in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
I believed in his presence in the Eucharist when I was an enthusiastic convert in 1983, and I still believed when I left 33 years later. I still believe it now.
The survey that claimed to reveal that only a third of American Catholics accept it was deeply flawed. Christians of the Orthodox and Anglican traditions accept the real presence without expressing it in terms of transubstantiation, which I understand was the only tradition chosen at the Council of Trent.
Also, it is not a good idea to spend so much money on this business when it is supposedly difficult to obtain compensation for the victims of the perverse sexual appetites of some priests.
I am thinking of all the catechetical programs published, of all the retreats and gatherings of young people, of all the novenas and devotions, of the recollections, of the rosaries, of the Sunday liturgies, of the hours of adoration, of the sacraments given, of the books, videos, CDs, workshops, etc., since the Second Vatican Council and their apparent failure not only to evangelize Catholics and improve the church, but also the evident decline in church attendance.
And now the bishops believe that a eucharistic congress, charging $300 to $350 per person to attend when regular church offerings have dwindled and one could go to their local church and receive the same eucharist and the same real presence for much less, will this restore some sort of belief in the “real presence” of Christ? If after all, educational and spiritual programs have not improved faith and expanded it, why would this unique media extravaganza suddenly capture the imagination and sway participants into rapture?
What about everyone who can’t attend? How will this rock concert change the understanding of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist when their hometown concert apparently does not?
It will be two years of preparation. The Eucharist at Mass this morning or next Sunday is just as significant. Jesus is present. Remember him.
I loved the story of the next episcopal conference. It’s straight out of the current playbook of, you name the organization. Do you have an embarrassing and shameful problem like illegal sexual activities? Pretending, denying, ignoring, doing and talking about anything but the “problem”.
Dear Bishops and Cardinals, the pews are empty. No one knows better than pastors how this has diminished the “bottom line” of the majority of parishes across the United States. How about a “Mea Culpa Conference” using the Sacrament of Penance? Forgiveness is an integral part of the Catholic faith. How about a Conference on Confession and Forgiveness? One scandal leads to another.
Is this the kind of thing Christians should do?
It seems to me that Jesus rarely hesitated to make his presence known. I think, if Christ was really present at a church’s Eucharistic services, just about everyone else present would know about it and they would come out and tell others. No money should be spent specifically to spread this belief.
One of my grandmothers loved wrestling and her favorite wrestler was Gorgeous George. Believe me, every time she saw Gorgeous George wrestle, she would tell the whole family about it at dinner the next day. He wasn’t God, yet she was able to sense his presence easily and she just had to tell others.
Really, isn’t it enough to have the Holy Spirit present in our services and in our lives? Isn’t that the important thing? Doesn’t the Holy Spirit comfort us, protect us, teach us, inspire us, and lead us as we follow Christ’s example and teachings in loving our neighbors?
Which event organization company did Jesus use?
This article made me so sad on so many levels. First, the fact that the bishops see belief in the Eucharist as the problem is so typical of their blindness to the problems that people in the church see as the problems of the church.
It is not faith that keeps us apart but the clericalism of the church, the failure of the church to take responsibility for sexual abuse. It is the inability to equally accept women, LGBT people, the poor, people of color, etc.
Second, $28 million with all the problems in the world like lack of food, housing, and medical care is ineligible. The fact that this is funded primarily by wealthy white people and their corporations only makes it worse. A $300-350 entrance fee certainly won’t make this gathering accessible to the average Joe in the pew or make it appealing to anyone undecided about the church.
It looks like a great gathering of people who will continue to encourage people to applaud them for praising us church peons.
St. Louis, Missouri
To heed Michael Sean Winters’ warning to avoid a mess when spending $28 million on their Eucharistic Congress, the bishops should revisit the Second Vatican Council’s document on sacred liturgy. They will find the official teaching of the Church that Christ is present in the Eucharist in four ways: a) in the assembly of believers; b) in the person of the president; c) in the liturgy of the word; d) in bread and wine which become his body and blood.
Rather than giving away the meaning of transubstantiation, revise seminary training to recruit and train presidents who a) understand that they are ordained to serve the congregation of believers; b) unpacking the word in meaningful homilies that nourish and challenge us; c) understand that the Eucharistic prayer, including the words of consecration, is a prayer for the whole community assembled, not just for the president.
Finally, help us all to understand and appropriate the deep meaning of “receiving” communion: we become what we eat: the body of Christ has the mission to serve the least of our brothers and sisters.
NCR board member
Los Gatos, California
I’m shocked! How can the hierarchy rationalize this amount of expenses when the needs for housing, food, drinking water, clothing, etc. are so big in the world. Do these men live under rocks? Show me in the Gospels where this kind of spending is validated.
How dare we come before the Lord in Eucharistic adoration while ignoring the same Eucharistic Christ in the Eucharist under the guise of the poor.
SHEILA A. LITSCH
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