The Wrong 100%

12-15-2019Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

A few months back Gallup reported the results of a survey among US Catholics about the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. And the results were not good: only 30% responded that they believe in the Real Presence. I’m not sure how accurate that is but even if it were 50% or 60% that would still be depressingly low. But even if only 30% of US Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, I can tell you that 100% of Satanists believe in it.

In November, the Satanic Temple held a Black Mass in Houston and afterwards tweeted: The Catholics and their fat mama Mary did not stop our Black Mass. The consecrated host was defiled, destroyed, and swept into the trash where it belongs. Thank you…

Why not use just a piece of bread or buy some communion wafers at a Religious Goods Store? Why go through the trouble of stealing a consecrated host from a Catholic Church if it means nothing? They know its significance. And they know there is no graver offense to Catholics and the Catholic Faith. In the meantime, the Louisiana State Police warned the Diocese of Lake Charles (which is near Houston) that members of the Satanic Temple were crossing into Louisiana to steal a consecrated host. The Diocese issued a letter to Priests, Deacons and Special Ministers of Holy Communion to be on guard for suspicious activity.

While I am not aware of any such problem in our area it is nonetheless a good reminder that proper custody of the Eucharist is essential. While we do not have the “Communion Police” if you do see a person who receives the Eucharist at Mass but does not consume the host please either simply say to them: “if you are not going to consume or eat the Holy Communion please give it to me and I will take care of it” and then if they do hand you the host please give it to the Priest/ Deacon or Minister of Holy Communion or tell the priest or deacon about it. Many times, new people who are not familiar with the Catholic Mass come forward for Holy Communion and they don't know what they are supposed to do with it. So, don't assume the worst, (i.e. they are Satanists) just that they may be confused.

These creepy Satanists mean business and they are not joking or just looking for publicity, though they are doing that too. Which means we need to take care that our most sacred sacrament is protected and handled properly. That being said, what about the 70% or so that do not acknowledge the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist?

The decline in belief probably started after the changes of Vatican II in the 1970’s. We went from kneeling at the Altar Rail for reception of Communion to standing, the fast before reception went from eight hours to one hour and this was accompanied by a decline in people going to Confession. Then in the 1980’s Pope John Paul II allowed Bishops Conferences to extend the option for reception in the hand, though as head of the Italian Bishops Conference, he himself did not extend that option for Italy. I realize that when the changes to the Mass came, no one asked the priests who say the Mass their opinion nor when the change in the manner of reception occurred no one asked the people in the pews their thinking on the matter. Over all the cumulative effect was to weaken belief in the Real Presence.

The manner of reception of Holy Communion is determined by the Bishops Conference of each country. The current directive in the US issued in 2011 is that the ordinary way to receive the Eucharist is standing, while the recipient makes a sign of reverence, (a bow of the head, not the body) and says Amen and receives on the tongue or hand. A priest does not have the authority to change that. When asked about reception while kneeling, the Vatican replied in the affirmative and that no one who kneels should be refused the Eucharist for kneeling.

Many of you have asked me about kneeling for reception and specifically if I would make accommodation for that (kneelers/prie-dieu or altar rail) and I am considering those requests. While I do not want to cause confusion or make the Liturgy a war zone or do whatever you want zone, I am greatly concerned with the diminishing belief in the Most Blessed Sacrament.

Spiritual warfare is real. In the extreme, Satanists commit anti-Catholic hate crimes of the vilest sort. But there is also the sneaky seduction that happens when Catholics become sloppy, lackadaisical, and nonchalant about their treatment of the Eucharist. When that happens, our belief starts to slide and diminish and rather than seeing the Eucharist for what it truly is: the real and substantial presence of Christ among us contained in the Sacred Host, it becomes just a piece of bread. The Satanists know that it is something much, much more. Let’s pray Catholics would more deeply recognize who comes to us in the Breaking of the Bread and treat it accordingly.

Love,

Fr. John B.

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