A recent Pew Research Center survey, published in July of 2019, reported that 70% of Catholics in the U.S. do not believe that Our Lord is truly, physically present in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. The survey covered a large range of questions on religious knowledge, in various categories, and did not particularly target Roman Catholics. These findings expose an alarming number of U.S. Catholics who are ignorant regarding the most treasured, sacred, and defining mystery of the faith they themselves profess: that the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ is truly given to us as food—under the appearance of bread and wine—in the most Holy Eucharist.
Whatever the causes of these results, the fact that so many Catholics are ignorant of what the Eucharist actually is reveals an ugly crisis of faith in the Church today. If the majority of Catholics don’t believe in the most fundamental truth of our Catholic Faith—the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist—what other teachings of the Faith do they not know, understand incorrectly, or simply choose not to believe? An important first step in reclaiming an authentic Catholic Faith is to clarify just what we believe about the Eucharist and why it is the “source and summit” (Lumen Gentium 11) of our Christian life.
This month’s Teaching the Faith with Current Events explores what the Church proclaims about her most precious Sacrament, why the Eucharist should be preeminent in our lives and in our devotions, how we can truly participate in Christ’s Sacrifice at Mass, and what it means to carry our Faith out into the world with gratitude and joy.
In this lesson your students will:
- Learn what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches about the Sacrament of the Eucharist.
- Read and analyze selections from Pope St. Paul VI’s 1965 Encyclical on the Eucharist, Mysterium Fidei, in which he proclaims that the Eucharist “should be the focal point and goal of all other forms of devotion” (64).
- Evaluate what it means to participate actively in the celebration of the Eucharist.
- Assess why so few U.S. Catholics believe in the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist, as shown by the recent Pew Research survey of July, 2019.
- Discuss the ways that we can show reverence towards God in the Eucharist, and be witnesses of Christ in the world.