There was a recently published Pew Study, issued August 5, 2019, that should disturb every Catholic. The study revealed that 69% of all self-identified Catholics in the survey said they believed the bread and wine used at Mass are not Jesus, but instead “symbols of the body and blood of Jesus Christ”. Forty-three percent of those believe that is the the Church’s teaching is symbolic and 22% reject the idea of transubstantiation, even though they know the Church’s teaching. So what is the Church’s teaching and where is the proof? Here you go!
The Eucharist, according the the Catechism
The Catechism is the full explanation of the Catholic faith, rooted in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. According to the Catechism, paragraph 1324, “The Eucharist is ‘the source and summit of the Christian life’ . . . For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely, Christ himself, our Pasch.”
Remembering and recalling
A lot of people get tripped up is when the priest prays, “Do this in memory of me,” while lifting the Blessed Sacrament. They miss the proceeding words, “This is my Body” and “This is the chalice of my Blood,” meaning that Jesus is offering himself as these sacrifices specifically for his disciples. We are called then by Jesus to repeat these words to repeat the sacrifice that Jesus did for us by his Body and Blood poured out upon the Cross, not symbolically remembering or recalling as we would a memory or thought. At each Mass, we again offer the complete sacrifice of Jesus in the breaking of Bread and Blood poured out.
The bread and wine don’t taste like a body and blood
Nope they don’t, but they are changed by the blessing. This is called transubstantiation.
What is transubstantiation?
Think of it like this: Have you ever had someone stand before you and put their hands on you and prayed over? Compare how you felt before you were prayed over to how you felt after. You are the same person, nothing on the outside changed, nothing on the inside changed. But, something did change. While everything may look, taste, feel, smell the same according to our senses, it has been changed, just as you are when you are prayed over. What changes to the species of the Eucharist (bread and wine) is what they become, not how they appear or smell, or taste.
Besides the Last Supper, where else does Jesus say he is bread and wine
In the chapter of John 6, we see the same thing that happens today as did right in front of Jesus. It begins with the miracle feeding of 5000 of bread and fish. The next day, the followers searched for Jesus again because they were hungry, but Jesus tells them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35). Jesus says we must eat or gnaw on his flesh to have eternal life, and drink his blood. At this point, many of the disciples couldn’t handle the teaching and turned away from Jesus. Do not be those unbelieving disciples and turn away!
Yes, ultimately, we must have faith in order to believe Jesus. But doesn’t this all boil down to faith in Jesus as divine? As Bishop Barron has stated in his study of Catholicism, “Jesus is either God or he is a mad man and a liar; there is no middle ground.” Why would he say this? Because we either believe and have faith in all that Jesus said, or we don’t. We can’t say he was right part of the time, but on “this” he was wrong, or it’s too hard to believe.
Research the Eucharistic miracles
Just a quick Google search of “Eucharistic miracles” will give you thousands of articles about miracles that have happened specifically related to the Blessed Sacrament. It also has been scientifically studied, before and after consecration, and there are proofs that there is a difference and change in the Bread and Wine. Click here for an article from the National Catholic Register published June 20, 2019.
Don’t be lazy
If it is still too difficult to believe, pray. Go to Mass. Talk to the priest and ask questions. Ask your parish if there is someone to talk to about your questions or doubts. There are also several wonderful studies which cover the basics of the Catholic faith and explain the teaching of the Eucharist, specifically, Bishop Barron’s Catholicism.
The full Pew study can be found here.