Lapsed Catholics and Catholics Who Do Not Believe in the Real Presence


The news cycle is fickle. A big news story is only big until a new big story comes along.  This is true even with Catholic Church news.

We’ve known for quite some time that 78 percent of Catholics in the U.S. do not go to Mass regularly, but in late July the big news was that over 69 percent of the Catholics in the U.S. who are not going to Mass regularly also do not believe Jesus Christ is present in the Eucharist.  And even 33 percent of Catholics who do go to Mass regularly do not believe in the Real Presence.

These numbers are very disturbing.  Add these to other poll numbers on young Catholics abandoning their faith, the increasing number of ‘Nones’ and those who subscribe to Moral Therapeutic Deism, and the bleak picture of Catholicism in the U.S. today suddenly becomes very clear.

It’s also concerning that not that many of our Church leaders seem to be bothered by these numbers.  I actually expected the Pew poll news to set off some alarm bells, but it appears I was mistaken.  Instead, stories on the Amazon Synod and the Germany Synod quickly re-grabbed the headlines.  The ‘69 percent of Catholics who don’t believe in the Real Presence’ story became old news.

What’s Being Done?

In all fairness, 10 days after the Pew survey numbers were released the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) did ask the laity on Facebook for advice on what to do about the shocking numbers.  According to a LifeSiteNews article, “The laity overwhelmingly responded by calling on the USCCB to reinstitute traditional liturgical practices.”

To the best of my knowledge the USCCB hasn’t responded to this suggestion with any kind of formal statement.  One can only hope the USCCB is taking the poll numbers to heart and is trying to develop plans to address the problem.

A few bishops have also responded individually to the survey results by issuing pastoral letters and calling for better catechesis.  Some Catholic commenters have echoed this sentiment.  A number of priests have also supported the call for a return to traditional liturgical practices.  But for the most part no alarm bells seem to be going off.

It’s not news that there are now two to three generations of poorly catechized Catholics out there. Many of these Catholics are not living or practicing their Faith.  Many of them are cafeteria Catholics.  But far too many are lapsed Catholics or Catholics in name only.

Better catechesis is certainly needed but it is not going to do much for the two or three generations of adults who are not even going to Mass.  Reaching out to these lapsed Catholics and re-catechizing them is a formidable task.  And much as I’d like to see a return to the Traditional Latin Mass, this is not going fix the problem either.  Today it’s not just one sheep that has left the other 99.  Today 78 sheep have wandered off and only 22 are left.

What Can We Do?

Does it concern you that so many Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence?  Does is bother you that 78 percent of Catholics do not even go Mass on Sunday with any regularity?  These numbers are very troubling.

There are far too many lapsed Catholics in the world today.  Not only have they cut themselves off from God’s graces, but by not going to Mass on Sunday they’re putting their immortal souls in dire jeopardy.   The third Commandment is not a suggestion, and those Catholics who choose to sleep in on Sunday, or choose another activity over going Mass, may be breaking both the third and first Commandment at the same time.  And they are doing so over, and over, and over again.

As with many of the problems facing the Church today it may be time for the laity to step up and take action.  Every Catholic shares in Christ’s threefold mission of priest, profit and king.  As the Catechism tells us, “783 Jesus Christ is the one whom the Father anointed with the Holy Spirit and established as priest, prophet, and king. The whole People of God participates in these three offices of Christ and bears the responsibilities for mission and service that flow from them.”

Be a Good Shepard

Just as the Good Shepard leaves the 99 to find the one lost sheep, every faithful, devout Catholic should be looking to bring their lost brothers and sisters back to the fold.  And there are a lot of lost sheep out there.

Chances are that you know one or more lapsed Catholics.  Maybe they are friends or even family members.  Pray for your lapsed Catholic friends and loved ones, and do not stop praying for them.  But when the opportunity presents itself, talk to them.  Try to find out what caused them to lapse.  Then silently pray to the Holy Spirit and ask Him to help you get your lapsed Catholic friend or loved one off the wide path and back on the narrow path.  You just might save a soul or two.

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10 thoughts on “Lapsed Catholics and Catholics Who Do Not Believe in the Real Presence”

  1. “We should not stay away from [Mass]…punishment is due the one who has contempt for the Son of God, considers unclean the covenant-blood by which he was consecrated”.
    Hebrews 10:25-29

  2. Pingback: TVESDAY EDITION – Big Pulpit

  3. It seems odd to today’s Catholic that he is asked to believe something literally that Jesus himself only treated as a metaphor.

    1. There are three problems with your comment: 1) Real Catholics DO believe in the Real Presence. 2) Those who think Jesus was speaking metaphorically about His Flesh being real food are in error. 3) There is documented proof that Consecrated Hosts are real flesh and blood. Google “Eucharistic Miracles.”

    2. Capt-It is fairly easy to get 30 or so quotes from the Fathers of the Church very quickly [online], beginning in the 2nd century thru the 6th – who said-unequivocally that Jesus is truly present, body, blood, soul, and divinity in Holy Communion under the appearances of the bread and wine. We really do eat His flesh and drink His blood. None of them – our spiritual forefathers – thought it was a symbol or a ‘metaphor.’ The clincher- ask so many protestants trained in protestant seminaries how the verses from the NT – esp from Gospel of John – simply are not even discussed, let alone attempted to be explained away. Guy, Texas

    3. What I meant was:

      When Jesus said, “This is my body, eat it,” he wasn’t cutting his arm off and putting it in the microwave so that Peter & Co. could have an interesting side dish. He was tearing up a loaf of bread and handing it out. When he said, “This is my body, drink it,” he wasn’t puncturing his jugular and aiming the spurts into their cups. He was pouring wine out of a wineskin.

      No matter what gloss later men put on it, those are the facts.

    4. I understood what you meant. You were wrong in your initial comment and you are wrong again. In John 6:55 Jesus says, “For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.” Jesus continues in John 6:57 “As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me.” A one-time mention might be considered a metaphor but Jesus doubles down, so to speak, more than once. The Greek word used here for “eats” (trogon) is very clear. It means “chewing” or “gnawing.” This is not a metaphor. Paul confirms the Real Presence in 1 Corinthians 10 and 11, Ignatius of Antioch confirms it in 110 A.D, Justin Martyr confirms it in his First Apology (155 A.D), Origen confirms it in a homily in 244 A.D., and Cyril of Jerusalem confirms it in his Catechetical Discourses (around 350 A.D).
      Like I said, Google Eucharistic Miracles.

  4. Gene-So thorough – thank you.

    I do find this missing: there are watchmen at whose feet this will be laid when they are judged.And yes, they will be judged. There are shephreds to whom Jesus entrusted all his sheep- and these specially loved, specially ordained shepherds are not the laity. The priests, bishops, archbishops and cardinals who either facilitated the departure of these sheep, turned a blind eye to heresy and false teaching, drove them away, or ignored the sheep, many while pursuing lives of depraved sin, and/or who stole billion$s of the laity’s money, these ‘other Christs’ will be held accountable for each lost sheep.

    I do agree with you that we can witness to our friends and pray for them – as I hope others will do for me both now and when I am in my well-deserved purgatory. I do notice that most of those lapsed whom I encounter do not go to any other denomination, religion, or cult – they simply stop all public worship. And many I know who have returned come back for one thing – Jesus, body, blood, soul, and divinity in Holy Communion.

    Guy, Texas

    1. Guy,
      You are right that there are priests, bishops and cardinals who will have to answer for their sins, just like the rest of us. Satan is good at being evil and leading all of us astray, including clerics. But the lapsed Catholic problem and the problem of Catholics not believing in the Real Presence cannot be laid solely at the feet of the clergy.
      The 60s were the ‘perfect storm’ for the Church and we are still feeling its effects. I suspect the devil has been working overtime ever since, convincing people that their own misguided, relativistic version of the truth is better than Gods Truth.
      We can debate the amount of blame sinful clerics have to bear till the cows come home, but in the end each one of us has free will. We are still individually responsible for seeking and knowing God’s Truth.

    2. Gene- Yes, Ditto! I will never tire of debating with you til the cows come home. Let us both pray for those who – unwittingly – begin to read it all. Guy, Texas

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