Those Who Believe Don’t Leave

What is the difference between the people who have left the Catholic Church over the past thirty years and those who have stayed? I believe the answer to this question holds the key to re-energizing the Catholic Church.

 It would be easy to escape into the complexity of this issue and say there are many differences. We have spent the last thirty years lost down that rabbit hole. It is true. There are many differences between these two groups, but it is equally true, more so in fact, that one difference marks the essential difference between the fifty million people who have left the Catholic Church over the past thirty years and those who have stayed.

What is the one thing? What is this essential difference?

Those who believe don’t leave. Believe what? Believe that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist.

Those who believe this single truth may feel like they are not being fed, they may disagree with the way their priest is doing things, they may not like the direction the music is moving in, they may have different liturgical preferences, they may get divorced, and they may feel unseen and unwelcome in their parish community. And yet, despite all these things that have led millions of people to leave, they stay. Why? They believe Jesus Christ is truly present in the Eucharist and they know that only the Catholic Church can offer this gift to them. They might be able to go down the road and experience better preaching and more dynamic music, but they are simply not willing to give up the Eucharist in exchange for that. Why? Because it’s a bad deal. But you have to know and believe that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist to understand how bad a deal it is to give that up for what is trivial by comparison.

Those who believe don’t leave. This one piece of data is more significant than all the other data combined.

Those who believe don’t leave. This single truth holds the power to change everything.

The most effective way to slow and halt the exodus the Catholic Church is experiencing in the United States is to lead people to believe in the True Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. And the most effective way to bring people back to the Catholic Church will be by leading them to believe that Jesus is present in the Eucharist. And the most effective way to attract people to Catholicism who have never even considered becoming Catholic is by facilitating for them powerful encounters with Jesus Christ who lives among us today in the Eucharist. 

We all know plenty of people who have left the Church, and even more who have simply stopped practicing the faith. But how many people do you know who have left the Catholic Church who believe in the True Presence? None I suspect. I don’t know any. And herein lies the answer. If we yearn to re-energize the Catholic Church in America, if we want to bring our friends and family home, if we want to spare future generations the pain and confusion that comes from leaving the Church—the Eucharist is the answer. Specifically, powerful encounters that inspire belief in the True Presence of Jesus Christ—Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity—in the Eucharist.

This is the one thing: the Eucharist. Jesus present in our tabernacles and monstrances, Jesus waiting to give Himself to us in Communion during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Those who believe don’t leave. It’s the one simple beautiful truth that will change everything.

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