My NOAA weather radio said Hurricane Henri was going to come right through our front yard, so we spread sand bags on the street, took down the bird feeders, charged our cell phones, put statues of St. Joseph and the Blessed Mother in our windows, and most important of all, prayed the Rosary…and were miraculously spared.
That morning as the storm approached, we decided to watch Mass live-streamed from a church in Waterbury. The priest talked about the Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament, which is a stumbling block for many Catholics today just as it was for disciples after Jesus told them that to have eternal life, they had to eat the Flesh and Blood of the Son of Man.
We know what happened next. St. John the Evangelist described one of the saddest occasions of Jesus’ ministry:
“When many of his disciples heard it, they said, ‘This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?’ But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, ‘Does this offend you?’…. Because of this, many of his disciples turned back and no longer went with him. So Jesus asked the twelve, ‘Do you also wish to go away?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe you are the Holy One of God.’”
I’d rather be with Peter than with those who walked away.
Today, people who don’t believe in the Real Presence take Communion and go on their merry way. And many Catholic political leaders who aggressively promote abortion don’t see anything wrong with it either.
The priest celebrating Mass had a radical recommendation for anyone who couldn’t accept that the Eucharist is really and truly the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus. He urged them not to take Communion but instead come forward for a blessing and pray because, he said, if you ask God with a sincere heart whether it’s truly the Body of Christ, he’ll answer. God is Truth and will not deceive or confuse.
There are many reasons why two-thirds of Catholics don’t believe this fundamental teaching. Some weren’t taught it. Others were taught it but consider it far-fetched.
The priest mentioned a woman at a wedding, who took the Eucharist between her fingers and promptly proceeded to hug everyone in the first row while it was still in her hand. She had no idea.
We live in a secular society that tells us to “follow the science” even though science can be fake. But the Real Presence isn’t science or fake. It’s a fact of faith that’s true.
If as Catholics we don’t get this right, nothing else will be right, whether it’s a ministry, a social justice cause, faith formation or our personal spiritual growth.
If there was one person who led a life totally centered on the Eucharist, it was St. Teresa of Calcutta, who said, “Unless we believe and see Jesus in the appearance of bread on the altar, we will not be able to see him in the distressing disguise of the poor.”
She would not open a Missionary House for the Poor unless there was an Adoration Chapel.
“The time you spend with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the best time you will spend on Earth,” she said. “The good news is Jesus is here with us TODAY—Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity—in the Holy Eucharist. Although Jesus comes to us under the appearance of bread and wine, his presence is as real to us now as he was flesh-andblood-real to his disciples when he walked this Earth. He can perform miracles, heal us, teach us, and love us. We can talk to him and he can speak to us.”
She realized America had lost its moral compass. Only one thing could save it—and it wasn’t politics. “What will convert America and save the world?” she said. “My answer is prayer. What we need is for every parish to come before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in Holy Hours of prayer.”
We live in a desperate age, and we all should spend time in Eucharistic adoration, especially Catholic politicians…so Jesus can speak to them heart to heart about the agenda he wants to see.
If you have doubts about the Real Presence, sit in front of the Blessed Sacrament. You’ll get all the answers you’re looking for… and more. (Joe Pisani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)