It is estimated that only one-third of Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Given what I have observed at a dozen different churches and YouTube Masses, I'm surprised the number is that high.
Consider a situation in which one or two consecrated hosts have been found in the church. Is it malicious sacrilege or did a host drop unnoticed from the hand of a communicant on the way back to the pew? The pastor has been informed and feels the need to address the issue.
I submit that this would have been a perfect time for a spirited homily on the Real Presence, realizing that if people do not believe the host is the Body of Christ how are we to expect them to treat it any differently from any other piece of bread? And also that no Catholic in his right mind would desecrate the host if he believed what Catholics are asked to believe it to be and what it actually is. And that maybe only a third in the church at this very moment believe it anyway.
Instead, the solution to this problem, if in fact it was a problem, was to position ushers as guards near all the ministers of communion to make sure that every communicant consumed the sacred host on the spot and did not walk off with it. What should be an intimate moment between a believer and his Savior has now become a subject of observation, judgment and perhaps even reprimand. What is the usher to do if the person just keeps walking, host in hand?
When was the last time you heard the mystery of transubstantiation explained from the pulpit? It's a big word, and perhaps even some of our clergy are not comfortable discussing the concept. Yet it constitutes the very foundation of our faith. One does not have to be an Aquinas to explain the difference between reality and mere appearances, or substance and accidents as the philosophers like to say.
Our faith tells us the truth of what we cannot see. The same words that Jesus used at the Last Supper revealing this mystery are repeated in every Mass said by every priest throughout the entire world. Jesus said this is his Body and it should become our food. We are to believe him and, by doing so and leading a good life, may achieve eternal life with him in heaven.
If only a third of Catholics are true believers, why is not the Real Presence the subject matter, or at least mentioned, in virtually every homily ever preached? Every meaningful facet of the Christian life flows from that belief. Without it all our good works are mere altruism, a humanistic feel-good faith, empty of meaning and purpose.
By contrast, belief in the Real Presence brings eternal significance to everything we do. It is the Great Mystery of our Faith and deserves to be preached boldly and often.