Fr. Thomas Reese, SJ, is well known to readers of this blog as a charlatan theologian. He was once the editor of Jesuit-run Amerika, but in 2005 the CDF ousted him due to his stances on the use of condoms, homosexual priests, Communion for pro-abortion pols, etc.
Reese has published a piece in Fishwrap sneering at a very recent Pew Research Center study on Catholic belief concerning the Eucharist.
What heaps additional scandal on this Jesuit’s head is that he first put this corrosive piece in Religion News Service, whence it slithered to where I first spotted it, The Capital Journal (of Pierre, SD). It wasn’t just corroding more the already corroded Faith of the catholic Left, it was working its acid on a wider audience, Catholic and non-Catholic. This is the essence of what celebrity Jesuits are up to these days: undermining the Catholic Faith of the rank and file.
Why did this jesuitical spruiker go into the highways and byways to peddle his poison this time?
The Pew study showed that more than two-thirds of Catholics believe that the Eucharistic bread and wine remain only symbols of – and are not really changed into – the Body and Blood of Our Lord.
Reese argues that the Pew study misrepresents what the Eucharist is. He says that,
“ultimately the Mass is more about us becoming the body of Christ than it is about the bread becoming the body of Christ.”
Something must have hit his nerve.
So, Reese pens that transubstantiation is an outmoded doctrine, fashioned in the 13th century at a time when Catholic laity did not receive Communion, but were encouraged instead to adore Christ in the Eucharist.
Reese implies that adoring Christ in the Eucharist is a poor substitute for receiving the Eucharist.
But it’s Fr. Reese who does not represent accurately either the history or the Church’s longstanding teaching about the Eucharist.
Let’s drill down.
This is important, folks.
First of all, the Pew study gave 1835 US Catholics the following question:
Regardless of the official teaching of the Catholic Church, what do you personally believe about the bread and wine used for Communion? During the Catholic Mass, the bread and wine…1) actually become the body and blood of Jesus Christ, 2) are symbols of the body and blood of Jesus Christ, 3) no answer.
Only 31% answered with #1; 69% answered with #2. Note well that in order to answer #2, the respondents had to skip over and not choose #1. So, it is not as if the poll didn’t give respondents the option of affirming Catholic Truth. The vast majority simply rejected it.
So Jesuit Fr. Reese downplayed the poll results. Why?
Reese was afraid of the reaction of orthodox Catholics who quickly – rightly – blamed the shoddy catechesis in the Church – particularly in ‘catholic’ schools and universities – since Vatican II, as well as the downgrading of reverence for the Blessed Sacrament in the Novus Ordo Mass and in our churches, the dearth of Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament in parishes, the disappearance of Corpus Christi processions and other outward manifestations of Eucharistic faith in liturgy, architecture, music, etc.
“the Mass is not about adoring Jesus or even praying to Jesus.”
St. Augustine of Hippo (+430) replies: “nemo autem illam carnem manducat, nisi prius adoraverit; … peccemus non adorando – no one eats that flesh without first adoring it; … we should sin were we not to adore it.” (Enarrationes in Psalmos 98:9, CCL 39, 1385)
Pope Benedict XVI quoted this very line from St. Augustine, and commented on it thusly:
“Receiving the Eucharist means adoring the One whom we receive. Precisely in this way and only in this way do we become one with him. Therefore, the development of Eucharistic adoration, as it took shape during the Middle Ages, was the most consistent consequence of the Eucharistic mystery itself: only in adoration can profound and true acceptance develop. And it is precisely this personal act of encounter with the Lord that develops the social mission which is contained in the Eucharist and desires to break down barriers, not only the barriers between the Lord and us but also and above all those that separate us from one another.” (Benedict XVI, Address to the Roman Curia (22 December 2005): AAS 98 (2006), 45)
Even Pope Francis – a Jesuit! – regrets the decline of Eucharistic Adoration. In a homily at Mass in 2016 he said,
“One cannot know the Lord without the habit of adoring, of adoring in silence. I believe — if I am not mistaken — that this prayer of adoration is the least known among us; it is the one we engage in the least. To waste time — if I may say it — before the Lord, before the mystery of Jesus Christ. To adore, there in the silence, in the silence of adoration. He is the Lord and I adore Him.”
Earlier that same year, Francis told the Italian Eucharistic Congress,
“Moreover, I want to encourage everyone to visit – if possible, every day – especially amid life’s difficulties, the Blessed Sacrament of the infinite love of Christ and His mercy, preserved in our churches, and often abandoned, to speak filially with Him, to listen to Him in silence, and to peacefully entrust yourself to Him.”
In seminary – what hell-hole that was – we were told that, “Jesus said ‘Take and eat!’, not ‘Sit and look!”
That’s what Reese is saying.
Concerning Fr. Reese’s bête noir, transubstantiation, already in 1968 – just shortly after Vatican II – in his Credo of the People of God St. Pope Paul VI warned theologians against abandoning the defined doctrine of transubstantiation:
“Christ cannot be thus present in this sacrament except by the change into His body of the reality itself of the bread and the change into His blood of the reality itself of the wine, leaving unchanged only the properties of the bread and wine which our senses perceive. This mysterious change is very appropriately called by the Church transubstantiation. Every theological explanation which seeks some understanding of this mystery must, in order to be in accord with Catholic faith, maintain that in the reality itself, independently of our mind, the bread and wine have ceased to exist after the Consecration, so that it is the adorable body and blood of the Lord Jesus that from then on are really before us under the sacramental species of bread and wine, as the Lord willed it, in order to give Himself to us as food and to associate us with the unity of His Mystical Body.”
The same Paul already in 1965 in Mysterium fidei wrote:
For We can see that some of those who are dealing with this Most Holy Mystery in speech and writing are disseminating opinions on Masses celebrated in private or on the dogma of transubstantiation that are disturbing the minds of the faithful and causing them no small measure of confusion about matters of faith, just as if it were all right for someone to take doctrine that has already been defined by the Church and consign it to oblivion or else interpret it in such a way as to weaken the genuine meaning of the words or the recognized force of the concepts involved. [Calling Fr. Reese! Calling Fr. Reese!]
11. To give an example of what We are talking about, it is not permissible to extol the so-called “community” Mass in such a way as to detract from Masses that are celebrated privately; or to concentrate on the notion of sacramental sign as if the symbolism—which no one will deny is certainly present in the Most Blessed Eucharist—fully expressed and exhausted the manner of Christ’s presence in this Sacrament; [NB] or to discuss the mystery of transubstantiation without mentioning what the Council of Trent had to say about the marvelous conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the Body and the whole substance of the wine into the Blood of Christ, as if they involve nothing more than “transignification,” or “transfinalization” as they call it; or, finally, to propose and act upon the opinion that Christ Our Lord is no longer present in the consecrated Hosts that remain after the celebration of the sacrifice of the Mass has been completed.
12. Everyone can see that the spread of these and similar opinions does great harm to belief in and devotion to the Eucharist.
That is exactly the quote from Paul VI that I launched in a class at a heretical priest instructor (who the next year quit to shack up and live off a woman’s Vet benefits from her Vietnam MIA husband) who openly denied transubstantiation. He became rector and threw me out the next day, but St. Thérèse won and got me back in.
Reese is still peddling that rubbish about transubstantiation, exactly what Paul VI found so dangerous.
Important as the dogmatically defined, technical doctrine of transubstantiation is, however, Catholics believed in the Real Presence of Christ in the bread and wine since the beginnings of the Church. But Reese confuses the two theologies by conflating them in order to imply that belief in the Real Presence only really dates back to the 13th century!
This is chicanery!
Listen to St. Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 350 AD):
“Do not see in the bread and wine merely natural elements, because the Lord has expressly said that they are his body and his blood: faith assures you of this, though your senses suggest otherwise.” (Mystagogical Catecheses, IV, 6: SCh 126, 138.)
In short, Reese argued that the Pew study misrepresents what the Eucharist is.
I guess he didn’t like the question.
On the other hand, Reese had no difficulty in 2018 touting an earlier Pew study on Catholic attitudes toward contraception.