Many of you may have seen the results of a recent Pew Poll that reported that 75% of Catholics do not believe the Church’s teaching regarding the Eucharist. It is reported that 80% of Catholics under 40 years old and 75% of all Catholics in general believe that the Eucharist is a mere symbol representing Jesus and not truly the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Our Lord. Given this alarming statistic, it is not very surprising that many do not make an effort to dress nicely for Mass, to genuflect, or to act with proper reverence when they walk into a Church. It is likewise not shocking that many look disinterested in the pew and Communion line. Yet while these statistics may not be surprising, they should be unsettling and they should be troubling enough to call us to action.
There is plenty of blame to go around as to why this most central tenet of our faith is rejected by “the faithful.” It is no doubt due in large part to a decreasing devotion to the Eucharist in parishes and a watering down of the liturgy to a couple of feel good songs and handshakes. But how do we remedy this situation? Most importantly, we must set an example in our own parishes and encourage devotion in our own families. We must also seek out the Sacraments celebrated in a reverent and dignified manner.
Bishop Robert Barron reacted to this survey in a brief five-minute video posted on Youtube. In this video he stated, quite correctly, that the lack of belief in the true presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist is a “massive failure of Catholic educators.” As a Catholic educator, it hurt to hear these words but he is correct. Catholic education has been in trouble for quite some time. As Bishop Barron says, this is the “bitter fruit” of those who emphasized service over apologetics and learning. For too long, Catholic schools, at all levels, have downplayed the necessity of belief and devotion. Now, we have seen the catastrophic results. Those of us entrusted with the task of educating must lead by example in our devotion to the Eucharist and pass on the Church’s rich teaching of the Blessed Sacrament. Finally, as Bishop Barron suggests, this is a wake-up call and an opportunity. There are great things happening in the Church as illustrated so beautifully in our own joyful and faithful environment at St. Benedict Classical Academy. At the beginning of this new school year, let it be our goal then as parents and educators, to commit to a renewed devotion to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and to passing this devotion on to our children.