There are reasons why only 30% of Catholics believe in the Real Presence

Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi.  In everything that we do, not just in prayer, there are reasons why we do what we do. There are principles that underlie even the smallest of our actions, and when we are acutely aware of these principles we become more in control of our actions. Sometimes these principles are not reasoned, our will, weakened by the Fall, is often times the principle of our action. Other times, we choose to ignore our defective will and choose to do that which we do not desire but we know to be good. This is our goal, to reason to what is good and then to do it, which requires that we know what is good.

We know what the Eucharist is, viz. the real presence. In this last Sunday's Gospel Christ says, "I am the Bread of Life." Just moments later, the priest in persona Christi, says the words of consecration and makes present His Body and Blood. Most of us get this, but here is the catch. Our actions, and in particular, the actions of our clergy do not correspond with what we believe and know to be true. For, after the consecration we hear the doxology, the great Amen, and the invitation to pray in the words of our Lord. 

So, again I repeat, Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi. For those who do not know what these words mean, they mean that we believe according to the way we pray, literally, the law of prayer is the law of faith. This also means that we believe something, we ought to pray like we really believe it. So, when it comes to the Our Father, if we believe that Christ is truly present, why are we staring up, looking at Fr. So-and-so, he looking at us, looking at the crucifix, etc... Christ is here in our midst, and we are to busy shuffling around to hold hands with people two pews away than to look to Christ, who is the image of the invisible God, the image of the Father, and beg him for that which we need most.

If we want Catholics to believe in the real presence, we can start by praying to Him at Mass. If we are acutely aware that the bread of consecration is Him, why would we look anywhere else? Fr. So-and-so, whoever you are, please stop staring at the ceiling fans, please stop looking at us, and please start looking to our Lord. 

Now, a few words of encouragement. I recently attended the first Mass of a friend, a friend I have never had this conversation with. There I noticed something interesting. At this Mass there were several other newly ordained, all of whom have been trained in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Mass. There were other much older priests, who were only ever trained in the Ordinary Form of the Mass. Now, the newly ordained, during the Lord's Prayer, all held their gazes fixed intently on the Blessed Sacrament and the older priests looked up. 

The bottom line is that we just don't pray like we believe what we do and it affects what others believe. What I hope is that these young men get it. I hope that the way they pray helps others to pray the same, and in praying in the same way, to believe. The bottom line is that we just don't pray like we believe what we do and it affects what others believe.


  1. I have a priest-friend who has made a similar comment about not looking at the congregation while he prays to God. He intentionally avoids making eye contact with any of them so that it's clear he's praying to God, not just talking to them.

    On the subject of hand-holding, it wasn't until I decided to stop doing it that I realized the Lord's Prayer at Mass doesn't end until well after the "kingdom, power, glory" part---not until we respond "Amen." It helps me pay attention to not hold hands!

    As far as looking up or at the crucifix goes, though, could those priests (and other people) be looking up at God, so to speak? Churches are built with high vaulted ceilings to draw our eyes (and hopefully our hearts) towards God. When I can't see the vessels or altar, I look at the crucifix so I keep my eyes focused on what I can see rather than what I can't. Thoughts?

    1. It's not just a matter of looking at the congregation. The real point is to turn towed the Lord and for all of us, priest and congregation, to direct our gaze toward Him.

      Our Holy Father has repeated the importance for there to be a crucifix on the altar. If there was a crucifix on the altar the priest would never have a need to look anywhere, during the Eucharistic prayer, other than either the crucifix, missal, or Blessed Sacrament.

      During the Our Father, Christ is present on the altar so why should the priest look anywhere other than with gazing directly at the God he is addressing? For the congregation, it's a slightly different matter. When Mass is said ad orientam, we can't direct our gaze at the Blessed Sacrament, and most of the time , for many of us, it's hard to see the Blessed Sacrament anyway. So where should we look? Simple answer: toward the Lord. The crucifix is an image of God and therefore, the most appropriate place to look. Other places, such as the ceiling or upward, aren't images.

      In Catholic theology the word image has a very specific meaning and prayer to images has a priority. I'd recommend praying toward an image of God.