Posted at Catholic Insight
During a recent Sunday Mass, I witnessed an incident that I hope I never see again. A child whom I know is still receiving catechism classes in preparation for First Communion received the Holy Eucharist with the family. Since the child is older than the other children in the class, the priest didn’t realize anything was amiss. I teach the class and I know that the child does not have a clear understanding of what and Who the Holy Eucharist is.
After Mass, I asked the adult family members why they allowed the child to receive Communion. “But the Protestants all do it,” they reasoned.
“We’re not Protestant,” I replied. “We’re Catholic.”
The Catholic Mass is not the same as a Protestant service and no practicing Catholic should ever think the way that family does. We know, or we should know, that the focus of Holy Mass is the Eucharistic Sacrifice that takes place at the altar and only Catholics who understand this truth and who are in a state of grace are able to receive Communion.
Sadly, the family I confronted reflects some troubling statistics. A 2005 Gallup Poll of 875 American Catholics showed that while all respondents identified as Catholic, only 76% felt that the Sacraments, including reception of the Holy Eucharist, were important. A mere 41% of respondents agreed that the teachings of the Catholic Church were important. Just 30% of respondents believed that in Holy Communion, they were actually receiving the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus under the appearance of bread and wine. Statistics in the United States and Canada show that 39% of Americans attend Sunday Mass on a regular basis while in Canada, regular Sunday Mass attendance is around 30%. While some of the reasons for these sad statistics are societal, we can’t rule out factors in the Liturgy as well.
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Photo: Pope Francis celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass ad orientum. Source: the Facebook page of Monsignor Guido Marini