Eucharistic Coherence is a term in vogue recently. As Catholics we have to ask ourselves, “What is Eucharistic Coherence and how did this term pop up out of nowhere?”
If this is the first time you’ve heard the term, that’s OK – it just means you’re not keeping up with the pop lingo trends in the Church – and that’s OK! It’s the Eternal Truths of the Roman Catholic Church that you need to keep up with, and the good news is the Truths of the Church instituted by Jesus Christ don’t change – so once you have them down, there’s not much to “keep up” with, even though our teachers and mothers said, “Don’t end a sentence with a preposition.”
A recent EWTN/RealClear Opinion Poll found only 49 percent of Catholics believed in the Real Presence. Further, a Pew Research Center poll found that only 31 percent of Catholics believe the bread and wine actually becomes the Body and Blood of Jesus, and a whopping 43 percent of Catholics believe the Church’s position is that the Communion host is only symbolic.
Photo credit: National Credit Register, December 9, 2019, “EWTN News/RealClear Politics Poll: Where U.S. Catholics Stand
These dreadful statistics are a searing indictment of the failure of the U.S. Bishops to properly catechize the Faithful. How low does the 31percent figure have to go before the U.S. Bishops will publicly admit, “We have failed our primary responsibility.” Perhaps they are waiting for the percent to go down to 5 or 10 percent? Perhaps some don’t care? Has your Bishop implemented any noticeable changes since the release of these damning polls?
If we are to be logical about the Eucharist we have to be grounded in the Truth of what the Eucharist is all about. It is the Core and Summit of our Catholic Faith. It is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ.
Coherence is the quality of being logical…If Jesus is truly present in all his spiritual and physical forms and we take Him into our bodies, then logic demands we give reception of Holy Communion the upmost respect possible. This is what is meant by Eucharistic Coherence. Reception of Communion demands that we be in the state of Sanctifying Grace (free of mortal, or grave sin), that we have kept the fast requirements, and agree and follow to the best of our ability ALL the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.
The Eucharist is Jesus Himself. “Eat Jesus?” you ask. “No way.” Many of those who heard Jesus (John. Chap. 6) couldn’t buy it either. What did Jesus do? He not only doubled down, he tripled down…many left, unable to believe.
Many are leaving these days, too, as the Pew Research has revealed. Only 31 percent are buying into Jesus’ words. Why is there such little Faith in the core belief of the Catholic Church by Catholics themselves? Can unbelievers in the Real Presence actually call themselves Catholics and be speaking the truth?
It’s easy to point fingers at our Bishops and priests – to blame them for not teaching Eucharistic Coherence and downplaying Eucharistic Traditions such as fasting and being in the state of Sanctifying Grace prior to presenting oneself for Communion. Sketchy have been instructions on what thoughts, words and actions are objective mortal sins and the need to confess these before receiving Communion.
We can offer fraternal correction, but in the final analysis we can not control what others, such as Bishops, priests, or other Catholics do. As Jesus said, take the plank out of our own eyes before removing the splinter from the eyes of others. Removing the beams is something we can control. Removing those timbers helps us to see how careless we’ve been in preparing for Holy Communion.
The following true story illustrates how lackadaisical we Catholics have become in our preparation for Communion. In the mid 1950s a 12 year old altar boy waiting in the sacristy for Mass to begin was surprised when he heard a knocking on the exterior sacristy door. As the priest opened the door the altar boy observed a nervous, breathless girl from his class. “Father,” she quivered, “I had a headache this morning and drank some water when I took an aspirin.
Can I receive Communion?” At that time Catholics were required to fast from food and liquids (including water) from midnight until the reception of Communion. It was a sacrifice taken very seriously. (She was allowed to receive, since she had taken an aspirin.)
This anecdote brings home how soft we’ve become as Catholics. Our Lord Jesus Christ gave his life out of his love for us, yet, we can scarcely abstain for the required hour before Communion, and often witness Catholics drinking coffee on their way into Church and chewing gum during Mass.
Here are a few more examples: Holy Days of Obligation (obligation? – when did you last hear that word?) have been reduced. However, did you know that deliberately missing Mass on a Holy Day is still objectively a mortal sin? How is it that on Holy Days there are so few Masses, only moderately attended, compared with the more crowded and more numerous Masses the following Sunday with nearly everyone lining up for Communion?
Abstaining from meat was what all Catholics did on Fridays – a badge of honor, yet a grave sin if one deliberately ate meat on Friday. You see, it was a sign of love, a minimal sacrifice to thank the Lord for His Friday sacrifice for us. Most Catholics have no idea that Friday is still a day of required sacrifice for Jesus. If one doesn’t give up meat, one is required to substitute another sacrifice. Our shepherds have failed to remind us, so some of the laity do this, some don’t. A lack of unity in our “com-unity.” Whose fault is this? Don’t wait for your Bishop or Priest; remember the beam in your eye? Take on this sacrifice yourself.
Here’s a tough one. Practicing artificial contraception is objectively a mortal sin. Oh, but that’s so hard… That’s because we’ve been conditioned to a teddy bear church; soft and nice. Contraception is a Church teaching downplayed, way down there, on the list of sermon topics. Is a couple practicing Natural Family Planning supposed to experience Church unity on Sundays when they see their contracepting friends taking Communion? If you haven’t, read Humanae Vitae. You may find it refreshing.
The list could go on, in vitro fertilization, LGBTQ+ issues, marital infidelity, pornography, shacking up, etc., etc.
The point is that Eucharistic Coherence is an issue now because of years of failure of the Bishops to teach the Faith. Denying Catholic politicians, who double down on advancing the killing of tiny boys and girls in the womb, for non-reception of the Eucharist puts the Bishops in a conundrum. They have tolerated so many sins among the faithful for decades, how can they stop now? How can they point fingers at individual Catholic politicians? It is depressing to reflect upon the scandals in recent years involving priests, bishops, even a Cardinal here and there.
Photo credit: Complicit Clergy
The Bishops will be meeting in November to address some of the on-going inconsistencies of Communion reception. But don’t expect individual “Catholic” politicians who strenuously promote the heinous crime of abortion of innocents, through all nine months, to be singled out by the United States Council of Catholic Bishops. Well, you would be right in expecting that, but perhaps the Holy Spirit wants more of us to set about removing our eye-beams through prayer, sacrifice and fasting. Prayer and fasting does change things.
Let us ask the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus, Our Lady of the Eucharist, along with St. Joseph, in this Year of St. Joseph, to help up prepare with a pure heart more diligently, respectably and fervently each time we present ourselves to receive into our bodies the King of Kings.