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Feedback. (sounding board).

Q: What were you taught about the Real Presence as a child?

That the Body, Blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ is really, truly, positively, absolutely present at the consecration.
Sister Mary David Hecker
Plaucheville, La.

What they thought a child could understand: an overly literal explanation that wasn't even true to the prevailing theology of the day.
Name withheld
Napa, Calif.

That it existed only in the Eucharist.
Earl C. Beck
Snellville, Ga.

"Transubstantiation." Not sure I really understood it, but certainly accepted it because that's what the sisters said was real.
Jackie Hooke
Antioch, Calif.

In Catholic school, a confused understanding, defying all physical evidence, about actually eating flesh and drinking blood.
George Moscona
Belen, N.M.

That Jesus became present in the bread and wine, and that he was seen in the lowest and most despised of people in our society.
Alvin Kimble
New York, N. Y.

That it was the Body and Blood of Christ in the forms of bread and wine. Of course, we weren't allowed to drink from the cup or even touch the host.
Kim Eidson
Escondido, Calif.

That by being good, going to Confession, and fasting three hours before Mass, I made a crib of roses inside myself to welcome baby Jesus. I was told not to chew the host since I did not want to bite Jesus.
Marcia Hutjens
Green Bay, Wis.

That during the consecration God came crashing down on the altar.
William Seiler
Fairfax, Va.

Q: How has your understanding of the Real Presence changed over the years?

Not at all. The foundation for my belief was laid all those years ago.
Eileen M. Costea
Orlando, Fla.

I now understand it more as a process rather than a "zapping."
Robert H. Irwin
Berkeley, Calif.

I still believe in the Real Presence, but I try not to confine it only to the Eucharist.
Father Jose M. Leon
Union City, Calif.

Childhood feelings of mystery and fear have been replaced with comfort and reverence.
Name withheld
Weirton, W. Va.

My belief and understanding has gone from head knowledge to heart knowledge.
Mary Papke
Woodstock, Ill.

What I learned about the Real Presence has not "fleshed out" for me due to haphazard liturgies and New Age intrusions into worship.
Name withheld
Chicago, Ill.

Christ's presence is spiritual, not physical.
James C. Molsberry
Palo Alto, Calif.

For a time I questioned its importance. I now believe it is central to my faith. If we really understood what we were receiving, it would knock us back on our heels.
Name withheld
Calabash, N.C.

In receiving Jesus in the Eucharist, I become, in a real sense, Jesus to all whom I meet.
John M. Bina
Cleveland, Ohio

I still believe that Jesus is really present in the Eucharist, but explanations like transubstantiation leave me cold. Forget the 13th-century ideas. Jesus is there--period.
Lucy Fuchs
Brandon, Fla.

Q: Where else have you found the Real Presence, other than in the bread and wine at Mass?

In the people, especially those who try so hard to overcome spiritual problems.
Msgr. John Doogan
Shoreline, Wash.

In children, music, and nature.
Mary E. Melling
Jackson, Mich.

Nowhere. Christ is present in nature, in the parish gathered, in the poor--but not in the same sense.
Norbert Oswald
Melbourne, Fla.

In contemplative prayer.
Sandy Ginn
Baltimore, Md.

In the shunned, in the sick and dying, in prisoners on death row--in short, in my neighbor, whoever she or he may be.
John and Mercedes Craughwell
Topeka, Kan.

Q: How can the church or parishes Catholics understand what it teaches about the Real Presence?

Have eucharistic ministers who dress and act with dignity, respect, and solemnity.
Ray D'Angelo
Columbus, Ohio

Renew practices like eucharistic devotion, benediction, and adoration.
Name withheld
South Bend, Ind.

Point out the Real Presence in folks we know.
Jolenta Masterson
Sequim, Wash.

Avoid outdated theological language and find experiential ways of talking about it instead.
Father Mike Boutin
Stoughton, Mass.

Use bread with texture and flavor. Use wine with depth and character. Engage the imagination through the senses.
P.J. Kampf
Cleveland, Ohio

Please do not "adore" the host without proper explanation, prayer, and guidance about the strength and grace that one receives from living Eucharist.
Sarita Penka
Omaha, Neb.

Disciplined catechesis is the only way. We have to make people learn--that's what worked for us.
Ted Rosean
Wilmette, Ill.

General Comments

To help my students understand the Real Presence in the Eucharist, I use the "plug analogy": receiving Eucharist is like plugging into the power that created the universe. Imagine what that power can do in and through them if they are open to it.
Mary Sue Babb
Santa Cruz, Calif.

Our goal should be not just to receive the Body and Blood of Christ, but also to become his Body and Blood for our world.
Father James Tiegs
Omaha, Neb.

There's an assumption that real means physical. The spiritual is just as real. Teaching this might help resolve people's doubts.
Ann Freiburg, O.S.F.
Lombard, Ill.

If there's a falling off of belief in the Real Presence, it will not be halted by putting up railings, making tabernacles bigger and more centrally located, and making vigil lights more prominent. Heavy-handed measures won't make people believe more in the Real Presence.
Barbara H. Brown
Louisville, Ky.

We need to learn that it's not about Jesus being present, but us being really present in the world that makes a difference.
Richard Szafranski
Saginaw, Mich.

RELATED ARTICLE: And the survey says ...
1. I believe that ...

86% The bread and wine
 in Mass actually
 become the Body
 and Blood of Christ.

 2% The bread and wine
 are symbols, but
 Jesus is not really

12% Other.

2. To me, the term Real
Presence also refers to
Christ's presence in ...

76% The congregation
 gathered at Mass.

75% The Word of God
 proclaimed at Mass.

65% Our neighbors,
 especially the poor
 and suffering.

64% The presiding priest
 at Mass.

21% Only in the
 bread and wine.

14% Other.

3. My own experience supports
the surveys that say there's
a crisis about lack of belief
in the Real Presence.

agree 47%

disagree 33%

other 20%

4. The main reason people do
not believe in the Real
Presence is ...

66% Lack or poor quality
 religious education

34% Other.

14% The informal tone of
 the liturgy.

14% The elimination of
 requirements like
 fasting or Confession.

11% Emphasis on community
 meal over sacrifice.

5. The church needs to put more
emphasis on reaffirming the
presence of Christ in the

agree 67%

disagree 15%

other 18%

6. How significant is the Real
Presence to you in living out
your faith?

76% Extremely significant

14% Moderately significant

 4% Somewhat significant

 4% Not significant at all

 2% Other

These results are based on survey responses from 347 U.S. CATHOLIC readers and Web site visitors.

Join the conversation--online.

All are invited to respond to U.S. CATHOLIC'S monthly Sounding Board survey at www.uscatho/

This month, join U.S. CATHOLIC readers as they discuss whether spending time with the poor should be considered a spiritual discipline.
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Title Annotation:Catholics respond to questions regarding the presence of Christ in the Eucharist
Publication:U.S. Catholic
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2002
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