Saturday, August 4, 2012

How to Teach The Real Presence

On my last post I was brash enough to suggest what the U.S. Bishops should do --- God willing.  So it shouldn’t be a surprise that I would suggest to my local pastors what they should do --- God willing.  To them I suggested actions which would teach the awesome Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, a belief without which the mass and Sunday worship is stripped of its Real meaning.
In this Year of Faith, we are called to re-invigorate our own faith, to live out this faith, to speak up in the Public Forum.  The president of Chick-Fil-A, Dan Cathy, spoke out his Christian faith this past week, and had his livelihood --- and perhaps more --- put at risk.  And you thought only in Muslim countries were Christians at risk for speaking out!  Was this an awakening moment for you?  I think it should have been.  We think of the Middle East as a place where Christians are hated and persecuted, and we forget how those who supported Proposition 8 in California (defining marriage as between one man and one woman) had their businesses, their homes, and even their children’s schools picketed --- because they donated as little as $50 in support of that proposition, which was passed by the majority of people.
If we don’t ACT as Christians in this society, we may find that we are unwelcome in it.  And while keeping quiet may bring us a temporary peace with our neighbors, how will our actions be judged by Him who commanded us to “Love your neighbors?”
I started a weekly catechism class on my Catechism-Study blog, to evangelize myself and others who wish to learn how to live out our Christian faith.  I suggested actions to our bishops.  And below is what I wrote to my pastors.  What will YOU do to show the world --- and yourself --- that you are Christian?

My Dear Shepherds in Christ:
A disadvantage of old age is that you remember much useless information; an advantage is that you recall, fondly, some gems.
In my youth it was very common for a mass to end, especially on a Sunday or feast day if I recall correctly, with a brief Eucharistic Adoration.  The priest donned the appropriate stole; the monstrance and host were placed on the altar; Tantum Ergo was sung; a few minutes of silent adoration ensued; the Blessing and Divine Praises followed; and then the recession completed to the Hymn Holy God We Praise Thy Name.  Ten minutes tops, but it was a form of solemn worship which re-iterated, no --- re-taught, the Divine Presence and sacredness of the Eucharist.  Is not something like this, perhaps, what we need, in this Year of Faith?
A second thing I recall, which is still being done in some places, is the formal Holy Hour.  In recent years I attended one conducted monthly by The Mariannhill Fathers, over on Ann Arbor Trail in Dearborn.  A few years back, I frequently attended one on Sunday afternoons at St. Edward’s on the Lake in Port Huron, conducted by the late, very holy, Rev. John R. Hogan --- busses came from miles away to attend the hour.  I recall fondly when Fr. Hogan brashly told me in our first encounter that “For today, you shall be my altar boy,” as he directed me to light the appropriate candles before the Holy Hour.  And I recall afterward the people in the church who said: “Oh look, my rosary links changed to gold!”  And then on the way home, I noticed to my great wonderment, that mine did also.  I knew the woman at St. Edwards who filed away the many written attestations of doctors, of miraculous cures, from people who had attended that Holy Hour.  It was indeed holy.
I offer these recollections to you to suggest that perhaps it would be a good thing to re-initiate such Adoration services in our parishes.  I suspect the low number of Catholics who believe in the Real Presence, according to surveys, is in part due to the casualness they portray toward the Eucharist at mass.  At an Adoration service, there can be no pretending at casualness.  In the quiet, with no singing or actions anywhere, there is nothing to do except pay attention to God, and hear Him.
I thank you for considering these “innovations,” these attempts at re-evangelizing our faithful.    
Yours in Christ,


  1. There is one parish I attend weekday Mass at during the summer (I'm a teacher) where right after the end of Mass the people kneel and pray the St. Michael Prayer, and a Hail Mary. It's a wonderful way to add a bit to Mass.

  2. Ah, I'm glad you found that bit of grace. Not to brag, but I'm more blessed. My home parish, where I attend Sunday mass and participate in its 24/7 adoration, has prayed the St. Michael Prayer after mass for many years. But this last year, my morning mass parish (Fr. John Riccardo's parish) began saying the St. Michael Prayer after every mass.

    But .... I wrote to these two pastors the above letter, asking for more. I heard a part of one of Fr. John's talks on the radio this morning. He mentioned the low rate of belief in the Real Presence, but he also mentioned that only 20% of under-age 40 Catholics attend mass weekly. The re-run of this talk today was timely ---- perhaps someone at the station read my blog (not! :-) ).

    btw, I read Fr. John's parish bulletin for today, and he mentions that his parish talks have had 1.1 million downloads in 130 countries!