The Real Presence - Why Has Belief Declined?

From the Head Coverings thread, the topic of disbelief in the Real Presence came up, which is worthy of discussion as a separate thread. Father Hardon says in this quoted article that disbelief and misunderstanding is the outgrowth of misleading doctrines that have been circulating among certain theologians for a good part of the twentieth century.

What are some of these misleading doctrines? Who propagated them? I think most people here have no trouble believing in the Real Presence, but we probably don’t represent the average person in the pew, the 70% Father Hardon says don’t believe in the Real Presence.

Input from a traditional perspective is welcomed. :slight_smile:

Well—we have heretics in the Church. Many times they are in charge of religious education. You see—it not about believing in the Real Presence of our Lord—but about performing the function. As long as a person follows the command (receives communion)–it is ok----belief in the Real Presence not necessary.

The person leading the RCIA at the parish closest to m - this is in the US - teaches that beleif in the real Presnce is optional and emphasizes the social Gospel. She is bringing in a good number of converts but this once orthodox parish is now anything but. About half the orthodox beleivers have converted to Eastern Orthodoxy or dropped out altogether. As in giving up. No support from the bishop here or frankly from Rome either.

Problem is, many priests and bishops really don’t beleive - if they did and felt they’d lose their souls for leading sheep astray they would not have allowed the catechital disaster of the past several decades. I am talking US here but the situation in Brazil is probably generally analogous.


Likewise, I do not believe this statistic applies to “the average person in the pew”. Do you really think that when you go to Mass, you can look to your left and look to your right, and know that only one of you believes in the Real Presence? Rather, I believe this statistic applies to the average self-identifying Catholic not in the pew.

What I mean is: There is a statistic of similar numbers about the decline in Mass attendance which says that, on average, a parish receives envelopes from ~30% of registered parishoners each week. I would bet that the 70% who don’t understand the Real Presence have significant overlap with the 70% not attending Mass (except at *PACE *Palm Sunday, Ash Wednesday, Christmas, Easter).

What has caused these phenomena, or which (if either) is cause and which effect, I will not speculate.


Just based on my own anecdotal observation, I don’t believe priests today are taught that Real Presence is actually real. Nor can I recall hearing a priest say a peep about appropriate behavior, dress, etc. of people when in the Presence in the past 25 years that would indicate any significant belief in it.

The American Church today seems to humor this belief, but does nothing to publically promulgate it. Perhaps its taught as a technicality in formal classroom environments, but its not demonstrated in the actions of ourclergy and hiearchy.

Now let me see, who could possibly be doin this?
Not the local Bishops.aka the infantry storm troopers.
Not the USCCB’s. aka the artillery Division.
Not the acquiescent Vatican. aka the generals.
I guess it just grew from the vege garden. That’s it.

I find myself agreeing with so many of your posts! I haven’t heard a really good homily in a long time, with the exception of Father Corapi, that is. I can’t remember hearing a priest talk about the Real Presence in the near or distant past, actually. And if they don’t teach it, how can we expect reverence at Mass?

I’ve heard that the seminaries are changing though, and if you read the book, “Goodbye, Good Men” there is much evidence there for poor formation of the seminarians to back up your point about the downplaying of the Real Presence. The end of the book tells about how the seminaries are improving, though.

You forgot the Freemasons. :stuck_out_tongue:

Once EENS is eaten by the theological termites, the whole house falls. It was the Keystone of the arch. Every corruption against the traditional Catholic Faith stems from that fact.
Make it meaningless, and you have nothing but comparative “beliefs”, but no religion.
Again the Sig tells all:
To destroy a Religion, you must first sever its traditions.

I think Mass attendance is a contributing factor. Today we see attendance rates of 25-30%, in pre-Vatican II times (1958) there were Mass attendance rates of 75%.

People can claim whatever they want about Vatican II, but those are real numbers, and it sure reveals a huge problem. If people stop attending Mass, they stop believing; conversely, if they stop believing, they stop attending Mass…not sure which came first, but I do believe there are probably 100 or more contributing factors.

I think it’s monkey-see-monkey-do.

People learn proper behavior in a certain environment from observing the behavior of people in that environment.

If people see some guy in a t-shirt and jeans up at the altar, reaching into the tabernacle and pulling out handfulls of our Lord, plopping them into the ciborium as if they were wheaties, and them dusts off the crumbs on said jeans, (and he’s not corrected for it) then newcomers (be they children or converts) will adopt this same behavior because they think it’s acceptable and right.

“They’re not treating it as if it’s a big deal, so I guess it’s not a big deal.”

Hence, a drop in the belief in the True Presence.

I think it’s as simple as that.

If something is communally (is that a word?) treated with respect, others will adopt this respectful behavior. If it’s treated like the True Presence really does exist, then that only reinforces the belief in others.

Good point you’ve made, but why hasn’t the Church recognized this and prevented it from happening? I’ve heard many times that we are in a period of heresy much like the Arian heresy. God raises up great saints to combat heresies and get the Church back on track. Where are these saints?

when I and most boomers were in school (we are the generation responsible for educating two generations in the faith, coming up on a 3rd generation, May God have mercy on our souls) V2 blew through, churches were gutted, altars and communion rails removed, sanctuaries invaded by guitar wielding no-talent Bob Dylan wannabees, half the priests and nuns we knew growing up left their vocations to marry or worse, and most of all, tabernacles disappeared. Within 5 years you could go into 10 Catholic churches and spend all day hunting for wear Our Lord was hidden in a pantry or unused office space.

Most of all, overnight we were told to receive communion in the hand. All of these changes were wrought with minimal catechesis and explanation from the pulpit. Naturally, those of us with a teenage cast of mind took this to mean that the reverence for and belief in the Real Presence that had been drilled into us at First Communion had been overturned, since the gestures and attitudes changed, and we therefore assumed the doctrine had changed as well. These changes happened not gradually over 30-40 years, but literally overnight, from one weekend to the next. Is it any wonder we ended up with doubts, as did our children, whom we educated at expensive Catholic colleges where they imbued even more doubt and dissent, not to mention downright heresy, and our grandchildren are still lapping it up?

I’m here!
err. .I mean…we’re here.

um, ahem, tut tut, on the CA forums

Well, Annie
Aren’t you a breath of honest fresh air…WELCOME!

The CHURCH never left the track. (Gospel.) Many members left the Church in mind, yet remain in body, which of course is for them a hopeless position.
The main purpose of Sacred Tradition is to tell us who is teaching the Catholic Faith.

Amen. Scripture says you’ll know them by thier fruits. The fruits of VII don’t look so good…:frowning:

Unitas touched on an important reason in my opinion.

“They’re not treating it as if it’s a big deal, so I guess it’s not a big deal.”

And Annie touched on communion in the hand and the destruction of the Churches.

Both things are part of the bigger problem that the Bishops have made Catholicism easy. In the case of Holy Communion, in essence the fast has been done away with. First cut to three hours from midnight, to only one hour before Communion today. If you haven’t been to confession, it’s OK. At least in my old N.O. parish, father gave general absolution before every Mass so we wouldn’t miss out on the fellowship of Communion. The silly practice of receiving on our knees as a sign of our humility has been done away with. Jesus our Lord is no more, instead it is Jesus our buddy and we should meet him eye to eye and shake hands.

No, we have lost our belief in the Real Presence for the simple reason that receiving Jesus is so easy. I think it is human nature to discount something or somebody if they are too easy. We are proud of completing a arduous task and look at easy tasks as drudgery. For the kid or adult in the pew, if receiving Holy Communion was truly the body of Jesus, the Church would make receiving difficult and probably rare, since we would be so seldom worthy to receive. We would be going to the Communion rail on our knees and back to our pews on our knees. Fasting would be a joy and our hunger would be a sacrifice we could offer up along with the Mass. Instead, we can eat in the car on the way to Mass and still fulfill the largely symbolic fast of today.

Agreed. It is not the Church, rather the people. I should have picked up on that in my post.

Very true.

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