Statistics Only Take Us So Far

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The Eucharist equips us for heaven


Many Catholics seem to be number-crunching since the Pew Research Center released an article on August 5, 2019, titled “Just one-third of U.S. Catholics agree with their church that Eucharist is body, blood of Christ.” The uproar in many Catholic circles chatters away on how the Church, and poor catechesis in particular, has failed us. But from my vantage point in the Archdiocese of Boston, where for years I’ve witnessed dozens and dozens of churches consolidating, clustering, and closing, I thought the numbers were lower than that! So, in a weird way, I’m hopeful — we’re better off than I thought!

The Pew article extracts its finding about Catholics’ lack of belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist from a wider survey on “What Americans Know about Religion.”

The bread of heaven

What are we doing to grow more in love with Christ?

Statistics can be beacons to guide our catechetical ships in the right direction. But really, statistics will only take us so far. The real journey for us is powered by the strengthening and renewal of our own belief in the Real Presence and the many opportunities we have to share it, as we chart a course for heaven.

What are we doing to grow more in love with Christ, who invites us into the intimacy of receiving him — his Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity — at every Mass? (We have many suggestions inside this magazine!)

Let us start by taking Jesus at his word:

I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; … Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. (John 6:51, 54)

The Eucharist is the bread from heaven. It comes from Jesus, it is Jesus, and it points to our final union with Jesus within the Holy Trinity one day in heaven.

Read more on the Eucharist

Let me share a few articles that are dedicated to deepening our understanding of the beauty and necessity of the Eucharist for Christian life:

  1. Sr. Mary Michael Fox, OP, delves into our union with God and one another at Mass as she unpacks three theological keys in the Eucharist Prayer. Read “May They Be One”.
  2. On the practical side, Sr. Brittany Harrison, FMA, identifies key moments that help us pray the Mass with greater devotion. See “A Quick Guide to Praying the Mass”.
  3. William O’Leary’s “Inspiring the Ultimate Encounter with Jesus” is packed with strategies for teaching and preparing children for First Communion — plus wisdom for older learners.


PAT GOHN is the editor of Catechist Magazine and 

This article was originally published in Catechist November-December, 2019. It has been modified to fit this online format.


Image credit: By Immaculate / Shutterstock 748564921


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