Sunday 15th September 2019

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What Are You Doing To Make The Presence Real?

August 22, 2019 Frontpage No Comments


The Catholic bishops are shocked — just shocked! — that only 1 in 4 of the faithful believe in the Real Presence. What is more astonishing is that their bewilderment actually seems genuine…which is horrifying to the rest of us insofar as we have been warning about this problem for the better part of five decades.
Let us start with what is most obvious. Much like our public education system, Catholic parents writ large have sloughed off their responsibilities to DREs and youth ministers. What is a DRE, you ask?
In all honestly, I have no clue. Supposedly they are to direct the religious education of young Catholics, but how often do they have them? What are they doing with them other than babysitting? More shockingly, how much are they being paid? What degrees do they hold? Theology from some second or third tier institution that surrendered its Catholic identity during the 1970s?
I’m sure there are excellent programs somewhere in America with DREs paid $80K a year with great curricula and parents who use this program to reinforce what is being taught at home, rather than reinforcing what these religious education programs are doing.
Most are failing our youth. Or worse, they present the veneer of an active parish while producing 1 in 4 young Catholics who survive the experience still believing in Christ.

A Modest Proposal

So what is to be done?
Allow me to offer a modest proposal:
First: Fire all our DREs and youth ministers and beg parents to do their job. All of them, every single one of them, without exception or remorse. The problem isn’t that they are horrible people — most are quite good and heartfelt. But all we have done is build an apparatus that steals away the role and responsibility of parents and grandparents as the “first teachers” of their faith.
Second: Bring back Friday Adoration. Quick quiz: When was the last time your teenage sons and daughters (or grandchildren) were invited to Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament?
When I was a young man, this was the centerpiece of my week. About 50 or so of my fellow students would cram into a chapel (or into St. Mary in Fredericksburg) as our priest performed a Holy Hour at 8 p.m. That is what kicked off the evening and the weekend. Afterward, we would go out and grab coffee, watch movies, play games or do whatever it was teenagers and college students do on a Friday night. But it worked. . . .
Third: Teach these students to pray the rosary or read Scripture in front of the Blessed Sacrament. One of the most difficult things to learn in the spiritual maturation of any Catholic is how to be silent before God. Learning this is what the holy rosary is all about. We preoccupy our senses and focus on the divine. The same is true for reading Holy Scripture or other religious texts with Jesus. It works because it works.
Fourth: Start treating one another as tabernacles. Ever see someone yell at the Blessed Sacrament? Me neither. Have you ever seen someone tell a tabernacle to go to Hell? Gossip about the tabernacle? Say terrible things about the Catholic Church in front of a tabernacle? Me neither…and yet we do this every day.
How many of us are guilty of coming out on a Sunday, marching over to the parish hall, cramming our maws full of doughnuts and coffee while preoccupying ourselves with the same things we brought in our hearts just 90 minutes earlier? Politics, gossip, scandals in the Church…who cares?
We just ate the Body and drank the Blood of God. We all became living tabernacles.
No small wonder the Devil hates us so much, hates Mary for her fiat before Gabriel, hates that Jesus Christ suffered death on the cross and liberated mankind from the very same. How could we treat one another the same?
What sort of example do we set for our young ones when we — by our very actions! — do not recognize the Real Presence in our thoughts, deeds, and example?
Fifth: Bring back Wednesday Bible studies. One of the great privileges I had as a young man? I came into the Church late…my mother was not terribly invested in us growing up as Catholics, so my brothers and I attended RCIA classes together while we were in college, surrounded by folks who wanted to be Catholic.
One of the advantages of this is that we really did learn in tremendous depth what our faith really meant. Red meat, not milk. We were already scavenging everything Catholic that we could find, but to be offered some mediation as our appreciation for tradition developed? That mattered in a real and tangible way.
Now the Protestants sit around and hold their Bible Study every Wednesday night. In Virginia, this is so ubiquitous that telemarketers intentionally do not call on Wednesdays, knowing that many among their target demographic are in the basement reviewing some portion of the Old Testament.
Could you imagine what that would look like in a parish hall where a priest decided to really do a deep dive on the Immaculate Conception and the meaning of the term kecharitomene when Gabriel called Mary “full of grace” — a vocational shift reserved for when Christ renamed Simon to Peter and Saul to Paul?
Sixth: Start joining groups like the Knights of Columbus. Or the Legion of Mary. Or start your own bourbon and cigars group of 12 angry Catholic men who will all put $100/mo into the pot and decide what to do with it — donate to a soup kitchen, take the kids hiking, give a scholarship to someone who wants to do a trade, ask the parish priest what emergency there is.
Want to start treating one another as if we really were tabernacles? Here you go…
One of the most powerful things I have ever read about the Real Presence was written by Fr. John Hardon, SJ, regarding what the Holy Eucharist really was and how it would end abortion in America. The Holy Eucharist isn’t just a wafer. Rather, the Holy Eucharist is Jesus Christ in human form who received His Flesh and Blood from His Mother Mary.
All graces flow from this, and if we are ever to end this homicidal age in which we live, it will be through the Holy Eucharist and a recognition of the Real Presence — not just on the altar but in each of us as Catholics.
In short, we must live this truth. One in four is not enough, and so long as we refuse to take up the light yoke of Christ by recognizing that “This Is My Body!” has a profound claim on the Catholic soul, we will instead be forced to endure the heavy yoke of a homicidal age where “This is my body!” becomes the rallying cry for 61 million abortions and countless other horrors.

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For those continuing to follow, my friend is currently in a treatment facility in West Virginia and doing well. His quirky sense of humor is back, as he was joking a bit about how folks were dealing in rocks…not crack, but “healing crystals” and so forth.
Naturally, he passed on that offer.
Ironically, this introduction of the spiritual is an interesting way of reminding him (and others) that treatment for alcoholism isn’t a materialist exercise. We’re not just machines made of meat, but ensouled persons.
That folks are willing to reach for rocks to answer that need? Reminds me of an observation Ludwig Wittgenstein once made about how a counterfeit admits the existence of the real thing.
St. Louis de Montfort and Venerable Matt Talbot, pray for us!

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