Big Les

the Drunken Prophet

    Preaching to the choir

    January 15th, 2023

    The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has called for a Eucharistic Revival, one that has as its end “to restore understanding and devotion to this great mystery.” The bishops cited a 2019 study conducted by Pew Research Center as evidence of the need for revival, but it has been three years in the making. Whether it’s taken this long to plan, or COVID restrictions caused delays, or both, a timetable has been laid out, and the end seems clear, but the objective is uncertain. Who are they targeting, and is the data reliable? Let’s first have a look at the data cited.

    Pew Research Center is well-respected and often trusted, but it is a third party source that may not have a firm grasp of Catholic language or teaching. In their survey they use language that is ambiguous, and they conflate Catholic terminology. They contrast symbolism with transubstantiation and speak of the sacrament as the source and summit of the Christian life. These blurred lines call into question the accuracy of the data as many surveyed may not pick up on these distinctions, and it is unclear whether the findings were scrutinized. The study found that:

    • 69% of self-described Catholics believe the bread and wine “are symbols of the body and blood of Jesus Christ.” 
    • 31% say they believe that “during Catholic Mass, the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Jesus.” 

    The Church teaches the bread and wine are symbols, but not merely. On the altar, they symbolize and re-present the body and blood of our Lord separated in a state of victimhood (MD 70). This sacrifice is the source and summit (LG 11). In the sacrament itself, the bread and wine appear as symbols that actually convey the grace of Christ’s presence. Transubstantiation is the means by which this happens. So, the language used in the survey is misleading albeit inadvertently.

    The same study also found that:

    • 63% of devout Catholics that regularly attend Mass do believe in transubstantiation.
    • 37% of these same Catholics that regularly attend do not.
      • 23% of which do not know Church teaching.
      • 14% know the teaching but object.

    The numbers below haven’t gotten much attention, but they reveal a lot.

    Notice that with regular Mass attendance, Catholics are more likely to believe Church teaching, but the opposite is true for those who attend less frequently:

    • 58 of the 63% of Catholics that attend Mass at least weekly know what the Church teaches about transubstantiation.
    • 25 of the 87% of Catholics who rarely attend Mass know what the Church teaches.

    These numbers together with the others reveal that the USCCB in its National Eucharistic Revival is targeting you, the reader. The Church in America wants to make sure all Catholics know what the Eucharist is, and She knows she can only reach those who will hear, those who are devout and regularly attend Mass. She wants you to take the message of the Eucharist to other Catholics who probably don’t know any better. The Church is preaching to the choir, and She wants you to sing!

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