I attended a theology uncorked event recently where the associate pastor gave a presentation on the Eucharist. His talk was full of calls to live our faith in small everyday ways and to embrace all doctrines of the Catholic church. This was truly more of a plea than a demand as he cited studies showing an overwhelming majority of Catholics do not believe in the real presence. How can this be?
Along my journey to faith terms like ‘benchwarmers’ and ‘piecemeal Catholics’ came up. There will always be those who struggle to practice what they preach or see fit to only follow certain teachings of the faith which they find most to their liking. But when did they become the rule instead of the exception?
How can we help them? As a member of several ministries within our parish and as a newly devout Catholic myself I’ve been asking this question a lot lately. Sometimes I still struggle to find the balance between being pious and preachy and being a loving disciple of Christ. Of course everyone must accept Christ’s teachings in their own time and of their own free will. We can’t force people to believe in the real presence at mass. But as Catholics we are called to love our neighbors which includes spreading God’s word and love and speaking up when we see our brothers and sisters going wrong in their faith.
Through transubstantiation, the consecrated host and wine at mass truly become the body and blood of Christ. As the associate pastor reminded us, we do not go to mass for the music or the aesthetic or even the homily. All of these things help us to worship and praise God but they are not the purpose of the Catholic mass. We attend church every Sunday to receive Christ through the Holy Eucharist. We become living hosts of God and subject to all the graces which come with that.
Mass is not simply an empty routine to fill an hour every Sunday. Mass is where we go to worship God. Whether we enjoy the homily or are pleased with the choir’s performance, we always receive Christ.