Catholic commentators have been addressing the recent Pew Research survey results which indicate an alarming number of Catholics do not believe in the real presence of the Eucharist. Eucharistic belief has declined, not only in belief but also in participation.
Many people have suggested approaches at how the Church can address this issue. I’d like to offer my own thoughts, especially in light of Mary’s apparition in Champion, Wisconsin to Adele Brise in 1859. Other apparitions of Our Lady also emphasize Eucharistic belief, from the request to build a church in Guadalupe or Lourdes (in which Mass will be celebrated and the Blessed Sacrament housed) to prayers for reparation in Fatima. The circumstances of the Champion apparition and the message seem pertinent to this part of the Church’s history.
Skipping Sunday Mass
At La Salette in 1846, Our Lady commented to the two seers about people not fulfilling their Sunday obligation. The same was true in the place where the Belgians were settling in Wisconsin. A letter from a diocesan priest to another clergyman in Belgium pleaded for priests to accompany the large waves of immigrant. He remarked that many were falling lackadaisical in the faith and no longer were attending Sunday Mass.
Sound kind of familiar? Many Catholics today quite regularly skip out on their Sunday obligation because of recreation or sports. Other things have taken priority. If the Church wants to reclaim Eucharistic belief in the real presence, then Sunday Mass must once again become a priority in the lives of Catholics.
On the morning of October 9th when Adele Brise saw the Blessed Virgin, she was walking to and from Mass. She did not fall victim to what was going on in regard to practicing the faith. Adele’s steadfast faith that compelled her at one time to join a religious order and work in the foreign missions continued to live on in the United States by her faithful participation at Sunday Mass. Let us ask Our Lady to obtain for us the grace to have a similar faith to Adele’s.
Receive Holy Communion
At the very beginning of the message that Mary spoke, she said, “You received Holy Communion this morning and that is well.” When a person skips out on Sunday Mass they are missing out on the most privileged moment of their lives, receiving the body and blood of Jesus. When we receive Holy Communion we receive the very God who gave his life for us. We are united to him.
If the Church wants to reclaim Eucharistic belief then we need to understand who it is that we receive and what that means for us. Our Lady commended Adele for receiving the Eucharist, each time you approach to receive Holy Communion, know that Our Lady commends you as well!
Offering Your Holy Communion
Our Lady told Adele that not only should she receive Holy Communion but she should do so with the intention of offering it for the conversion of sinners. Mary taught us about the efficacy of our reception of Holy Communion as we join the sacrifices of our lives to those of the priest offering the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass. The Champion apparition and message helps to reclaim Eucharistic belief by calling us to prayer and meditation after Holy Communion. By offering one’s Holy Communion for an intention it reminds us about the power of the Eucharist.
In the lives of faithful Catholics, you can take your prayer for conversion to the next level by doing as Our Lady asked Adele—to make an intentional offering of one’s Holy Communion for the conversion of sinners. (This prayer is contained in the book Our Lady of Good Help: A Pilgrim’s Prayer Book).
Teach Them How to Approach the Sacraments
Besides the invitation to prayer, Our Lady exhorted Adele to “gather the children and teach them what they needed to know for salvation.” She went on to add to that saying, “teach them how to approach the sacraments.” This is what Adele did as she prepared children for the reception of their first Holy Communion. The same catechesis is needed today in order to reclaim Eucharistic belief.
It will take priests consistently preaching about the Eucharist to address this issue. It will be teaching individuals how to pray before the tabernacle or the monstrance. It will be teaching about the right disposition for reception of Holy Communion. It will be teaching how to receive Holy Communion. And the list goes on. Properly approaching the Blessed Sacrament will restore belief in Christ’s presence, body, blood, soul, and divinity.
Through Mary’s apparitions in La Salette, Lourdes, Champion, and Fatima, it is clear she wants to restore and renew belief in the Eucharist among Catholics. As the Church unpacks the findings of the Pew Research study, we can turn to Our Lady, who was a teacher to the Son of God in the home at Nazareth, and now teaches us through the messages she gives.
Go to Mass, receive Holy Communion, offer your Communion for the conversion of sinners, and approach the Eucharist worthily, and you too will reinforce what we must believe, that Christ is present in the Holy Eucharist.