Monday, October 28, 2019

A supply-side approach to the Eucharistic Crisis

In learning that only 25% of Catholics under 40 believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, most of the discussion has been from the demand side ("What can we do to get people to want/believe in the Real Presence?")

We also need to be looking at it from the supply side.

1) What, as a Church, are we "supplying" around the Real Presence? (read: "How is Mass celebrated?")

2) Among the VASTLY different ways that the Eucharist is "supplied" to people, are some MORE effective in communicating to the "consumer" that Christ is "Really Present"?

3) Can bishops do anything to change the way the Eucharist is "supplied" in their diocese in order to move it towards what imparts to the "consumer" that Christ is truly present, or are they essentially powerless, and thus subjected to the whims of how any particular priest/parish chooses to "supply" the Eucharist?

1 comment:

  1. Father John - thank you for these questions. As a supply chain manager and a Catholic who returned home after more than 30 years, I have a perspective on what needs to be "supplied" to the Catholic community about the Eucharist.
    1. "We" is the appropriate subject for the first question. "We" consists of the priest AND the parishioners because it's a team effort. The parishioners need to let go of their tactical-level thinking about what they see and listen to what the feel when the Eucharist is consecrated at Mass. It isn't just a piece of bread; it's Jesus Christ himself. I didn't know this until after I came home less than a year ago. Like you, my Catholic education was mostly coloring pictures of Bible stories. Here's an opportunity for Church leadership and Catholic educators to teach the real reason for the Mass---Jesus's daily sacrifice for the salvation of our souls. Just as important, the priest needs to set an example of reverence. I've seen careless priests who clumsily handled the Eucharist. If the priest doesn't care, then why should those of us in the pews?
    2. Consistent message. When I was preparing for First Communion 40+ years ago, our teacher and the priest referred to the Eucharist only as the "wafer" or "bread". They would tell us "not to drop the bread". If instead they had told us "don't drop Jesus" my personal understanding of the Eucharist would have been vastly different for the past 40+ years. Could it have kept me from straying? Who knows, but it could've helped me take the Mass more seriously before I strayed. All Catholics---parishioners, Catholic educators, Deacons, priests and Bishops---have a responsibility to spread the Truth about the Eucharist in a consistent and persistent message. It's not a wafer, it's Jesus Christ himself. If said and heard often enough by those who don't believe today, maybe they will believe tomorrow.
    3. Inspect what you expect. Bishops are leaders of the Church who need to walk the deck plates (i.e. visit their parishioners more than once a year) to see if this fundamental Catholic belief resonates across each parish community. If the Bishop sees something amiss (think back to the careless priest I mentioned above) in a community, then immediate correction is needed before too much harm is done. Additionally, if parishioners see their priests and Bishops aflame with the same fire of love for Jesus Christ, who is the Eucharist, then that fire will spread throughout the community.
    Father John, your podcasts are making a big difference in deepening my faith. Thank you.