Has anyone ever asked why you, as a Catholic, believe that bread and wine really become the body and blood of Jesus Christ? One objection heard is, “You’re telling me that Jesus held Himself in His own hands? Surely that is logically impossible.” Quite so. Yet, to quote Our Blessed Lord, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
Another objection to belief in the Real Presence is that consuming Jesus as food as part of Christian worship is just plain cannibalism. The objector conveniently sets aside St John the Baptist’s stirring proclamation, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29), associating Jesus with the Paschal lambs consumed the night before the Exodus whose blood saved them from the Angel of Death.
Similarly, St Paul as well solemnly identifies Jesus with the lamb eaten during the Lord’s Supper with a warning: “Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily, will be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 11:27). “Guilty of the body and blood” is an idiomatic phrase, similar to the English expression “to have blood on one’s hands,” meaning that the person is a murderer. Therefore, St Paul understands the sacramental presence of Jesus, not as being merely symbolic, but as something quite real. One cannot murder a symbol.
Anyone receiving Holy Communion in the state of mortal sin commits sacrilege, thus becoming culpable as a murderer, indeed, taking upon him- or herself responsibility for being the crucifier of Christ. “For he who eats and drinks unworthily, without distinguishing the body, eats and drinks judgment to himself. This is why many among you are infirm and weak, and many sleep” (1 Corinthians 11:29, 30).
One need only look at the present disordered state of Western culture to see St Paul’s warning of infirmity and death following a lack of united, strong, courageous leadership by the Catholic hierarchy in the face of a societal denial of real science, medicine and commonsense; the glorification of the satanic, the bizarre homosexual ethos pushed by educators, legislators, entertainers and even, God help us, members of the clergy.
Mockery of the Church, her sacraments, the Virgin Mary and most especially the Blessed Sacrament have abounded. Stained-glass windows are shattered and statues are toppled and beheaded. Tabernacles have been stolen and the Sacred Host desecrated. The non-profit advocacy group CatholicVote reports:
The attacks on Catholic churches have been widespread across the country, affecting 42 states plus DC. The states with the most attacks are California (45), New York (29), Pennsylvania (18), Texas (15), Colorado (14), New Jersey (14), Massachusetts (13), Florida (13), Washington (11), and Oregon (10). Hotspots with large clusters of attacks include New York City (25) and the metro areas of Los Angeles (13); Denver (12); San Francisco/Bay Area (11); Washington, D.C. (10); Boston (10); Portland, Oregon (9); Seattle (7); Chicago (6); and Houston (5).
The nation has seen 300 attacks on Catholic churches in fewer than three years. Since the draft of the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v Wade was leaked in May, 2022, there have been over 80 attacks on pro-life pregnancy resource centers. And the Department of Justice refuses to classify any of them as a hate crime.
Add to these things the seven decades-long attempt to destroy the family as a solid, viable unit forming the basis of secure society; the lewd profanity and misogyny in popular music; feverish sexual scenes in movies, the lascivious sexualization of toddlers as part of a nationwide addition to the public school curriculum; and doctors, no longer bound by the Hippocratic Oath, mutilating children brainwashed into thinking God made a mistake in their given gender.
The humiliation of Catholics by the Los Angeles Dodgers giving an award to the blasphemous, anti-Catholic Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is indicative of what St John Paul II so rightly called “the culture of death.” When the Catholics of Los Angeles turned to their shepherd for a strong, stern reply, Archbishop Gomez feebly responded with a call to his flock not to be bigoted, then changed the subject to talk about “our women religious.” Little wonder the enemies of Faith chortle at our bishops and their generally weak-kneed response to attacks on churches and prolife pregnancy centers, even sacrilege committed against the Sacred Host. At this time, more than ever, we need shepherds to fight the wolves, not cowardly hirelings who hide behind pious blathering and unctuous cliches.
One need not be a sociologist to see that we are killing ourselves. And all influential persons, be they parents, legislators, doctors, educators, news anchors, entertainers, scientists or clergy who destroy the innocence of children are promised retribution by Christ Himself:
But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck, and be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of scandals! For it must needs be that scandals come, but woe to the man through whom scandal does come!
The ultimate cause of this vast disorder, as St Paul noted, stems a lack of knowledge and reverence by bishops, priests and laity who treat Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament with casual familiarity and sometimes near contempt, not recognizing that the Almighty Creator of the universe humbles Himself to be sacramentally present under the forms of bread and wine.
Adorn the sanctuary! Wave the incense! Wear beautiful vestments! Bring back the weekly celebration of Eucharistic Benediction with novenas and Stations of the Cross. Cast out the bland, self-congratulatory songs full of half-baked theological husks and bring back the ethereal, devotional beauty of chant, choral and congregational music imbued with solid eucharistic doctrine. Make Catholic churches reflect our love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament where parishioners know that the Triune God is there adored.
The hierarchy and clergy of the Catholic Church in Europe and the Americas are walking a tightrope. If the “Eucharistic Revival” does not bring about a complete about face from the now discredited “spirit of Vatican II” which was the basis of the horrendous iconoclasm of the 1960s-80s, the Church will suffer even more severely.
At Fatima, the Virgin Mary warned, “You must offend our Lord God no more! He is already much offended.” Only a return to sacramental reverence and respect will save us from experiencing the wrath of God for, “Indeed, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God” (Hebrews 10:31).
Sean M. Wright, MA, award-winning essayist, Emmy nominee and Master Catechist for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, is a parishioner at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Santa Clarita. He answers comments at [email protected].
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