As a result of the recent Pew survey, that showed only 1/3 of Catholics believed in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops polled their Facebook followers asking, “What are some ideas to solving this issue?” Telling followers that, “We want to hear your opinion.”
Well, they asked, so as a faithful lay Catholic, here is my response. First, I want to give a little bit of my background. I am a recent revert back to the church. I spent most of my formative years in the protestant church, in particular, in the Episcopal Church. So I am responding from a perspective of here is what drew me back into the Catholic church.
First, less focus on social justice issues and more focus on catechesis. Trust me, we as young adults DO NOT want social justice issues thrown down our throats. We know this is how boomers feel good about themselves, but we are in the church because we love her teachings. So teach us! Don’t preach at us about what’s going on in the world; that is secondary. What we need and desire is to know and understand the mysteries of God. When we are well grounded in that, then the other stuff will come naturally.
Tradition, tradition, tradition! Yes, young people love tradition! It is what connects us to our spiritual mothers and fathers. It is what separates us from everyone else. It is what sets our church apart as the true church of Christ, and it is those traditions, that have been passed down for hundreds of years, that kept the church going. Honestly, most of us don’t like the changes that came out of Vatican II, and we wish things would go back to the way they were when you all were young. There is a reason why all of the traditional religious communities have young vocations….and it’s not because they shed the habit and sit in a circle singing hippy hymns, it’s because they have held on to the tradition of the church.
While we are talking about tradition, let’s talk about RESPECT. Respect for the Eucharist. Thankfully, we have not had this issue in our Rite. We still kneel, as we are able, at the altar rail and receive the precious Body and Blood of our Lord in our mouthes. Now granted, it would be hard in the Byzantine Rite to receive any other way, but still, this idea that you can just plop Jesus down in my hand is absurd…and don’t get me started on Eucharist Ministers. Only that which is Holy should be touching His body. Now everyone and their brother is up there distributing communion. Now don’t get me wrong, Eucharistic Ministers every a very important role as a minister of help to the priest when it comes time to brining communion to the sick or homebound. They are needed for this very important ministry. But beyond that, communion should be distributed, within the context of Mass, by those in Holy Orders.
The last thing I want to suggest be done is discipline those who do not follow the rules of the church when it pertains to distributing communion to those who are not able to receive. I know of nuns who when visiting patients in the hospital setting who will distribute communion to Protestants and those who are not allowed to receive due to the state of sin that they are living in. It is not only nuns, but some priests and Eucharistic Ministers as well. The church must discipline these people and hold them accountable for violating church teaching. Because when you make the focus on inclusion, this idea that anyone can partake, it lessens the meaningful experience that takes place as a result of sharing in this Mystery.
I would love to know what your thoughts are, so comment below!