Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Transubstantiation – the idea that during Mass, the bread and wine used for Communion become the body and blood of Jesus Christ – is central to the Catholic faith. Indeed, the Catholic Church teaches that “the Eucharist is ‘the source and summit of the Christian life.’”

["FactTank: News In The Numbers"; Pew Research Center;, August 5, 2019.] 



The report reveals multiple things, but two stand out. First, a majority of Catholics do not believe in the real presence of Jesus Christ (body and blood, soul and divinity) in the Blessed Sacrament. The report states "... nearly seven-in-ten Catholics (69%) say they personally believe that during Catholic Mass, the bread and wine used in Communion “are symbols of the body and blood of Jesus Christ.”  

To be sure, the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) are both profoundly clear on this matter -- the Holy Eucharist is the body and blood, soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus:

And second, there is a corresponding relationship between those who do not believe in the "real presence" of Christ in the Holy Eucharist and how well they have been catechized. Put differently, most of those the Pew Report identified as not believing in the real presence also acknowledged they have weak knowledge and understanding of the teachings of the Church.


We have a problem in our beloved Church. We're not talking about the sex abuse problem or cover ups or even Vatican banking issues. We're speaking of a problem that cuts to the very foundation of individual faith. The problem is catechesis and spiritual formation. 

Our brethren in the pews with us on Sundays who lack a solid understanding of the basics of their faith are easily shaken in that faith. A separate Pew Research project ("7 Facts About American Catholics"; Pew Research Center;, October 10, 2018),  revealed the following about American Catholics:

  • In 2018, about 51 million adults identified themselves as Catholics.
  • The same research indicated that about 22 million adults were lapsed Catholics.

The numbers used by Pew were based on a 2014 Religious Landscape Study. Here's what we found most shocking about the numbers -- the National Council of Churches reported two years before this analysis that the Southern Baptists had about 16 million members, and the United Methodists has about 8 million.

Those numbers would make "lapsed Catholics" the second largest Christian group in America!!!


So how many of those fallen away Catholics knew their Catholic faith well? Would the results be similar to the profile painted by the Pew Report with the real presence? Probably, though we cannot say for sure. But here's what we can say:

The Holy Eucharist is central to our faith as Catholics. Absent this "daily bread of life" instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ, it's easy to see why a person identifying himself or herself as Catholic can lose interest and be led astray. 


The answer is simple, though it is not easy. We must clearly and accurately pass our faith from generation to generation. We must know its basics and transfer that knowledge to others in the Church.

Catholic media has the power and potential to carry a lot of the heavy load. And the Pauline Family, with our charism of evangelization through media, can and should be center stage for this great drama unfolding in our midst. Let's pray about this, folks, and then get busy wherever we are to turn this trend around.

In Christ!


After a career in the military, Frank and Beth Lengel started their business 30 years ago. Today they train career advisers and help others discover their life’s purpose and work. Frank uses caricature as a way of encouraging people to think about their identity. Beth is all about the “shrines, wines, and interesting people" that make it so cool to be Catholic!

The couple is active in the "Catholic Roads" apostolate. They travel together, writing, drawing, and meeting wonderful people. Beth and Frank have two sons and six wonderful grandchildren. They live on a small farm in South Carolina where they have been kidnapped by a manipulative cat.

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