Msgr. Pope on the Loss of Belief in the Real Presence

The majority of Catholics, including a substantial fraction of those who attend Mass regularly, do not believe in the Real Presence.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church (n.b.: a short post on the development of the Catechism of the Catholic Church is here):

Para 1333:“At the heart of the Eucharistic celebration are the bread and wine that, by the words of Christ and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, become Christ's Body and Blood…” (my emphases – TC)

Para 1367: “The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice: ‘The victim is one and the same: the same now offers through the ministry of priests, who then offered himself on the cross; only the manner of offering is different.’ ‘And since in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner. . . this sacrifice is truly propitiatory…’"

Para 1374: “The mode of Christ's presence under the Eucharistic species is unique. It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as ‘the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all the sacraments tend. ‘In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist "the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.’ ‘This presence is called 'real' - by which is not intended to exclude the other types of presence as if they could not be 'real' too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present…"

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From Msgr. Charles Pope in the National Catholic Register (my emphases):

“…There have been two different interpretations of these results. The first is that the numbers show a failure of teaching; poor catechesis is the fundamental cause. The second is that they show a failure in liturgical practice; a desacralized, demystified, less-reverent liturgy is the underlying problem.

There is truth in both interpretations, but to my mind, the second view is superior, in that it contains the first view but recognizes that faith is more than intellectual formation. Faith is more than what we say; it is also what we do. Too often, things we do and things we fail to do in the Mass are countersigns of the Real Presence and undermine, rather that support, what we say we believe…

“[Msgr Pope] would argue that the poor results are mostly due to the fact that the Mass, as it has been celebrated since the early 1970s, has remained largely and stubbornly resistant to changes aimed at restoring reverence. It has been a combination of the force of many bad habits and an entrenched liturgical establishment that has resisted anything that seemed to be a “step backward” (e.g., kneeling to receive Holy Communion), even as an option…

There is much more to Msgr’s post, go read it all. My personal experience with the Ordinary Form has been that, in general, pretty much anything is allowed to fly in the Mass, except for anything that even hints at reverence or tradition. This even includes the “preferred” option of saying the Confiteor during the Penitential Act, something I never – never – hear in an Ordinary Form Mass in the Diocese of Portland, Maine, even in the Cathedral (this is a pet peeve of mine).

Anyway, the point is, the Mass teaches. The Ordinary Form, although it can be done reverently and well, generally is done poorly. Thus, it teaches poorly. The Extraordinary Form is not magic, but it is far less susceptible to the whims of the priests, because there’s pretty much only one way to do it, as opposed to the thousand and one ‘options’ of the Ordinary Form. In general, the Extraordinary Form teaches reverence for the Blessed Sacrament, and teaches it well.

Curate ut valeatis.

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