The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is reported to be drafting a statement on ‘Eucharistic coherence’ following the election of President Joe Biden, a Catholic. In the meantime, several bishops have released documents in recent weeks outlining the centrality of the Eucharist to our Catholic faith, and that those who do not affirm and believe all that the Catholic Church teaches to be true should not present themselves for Communion.
Bishop Thomas Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix recently released an Apostolic Exhortation titled, Veneremur Cernui (Down in Adoration Falling) that explains why we believe in the Eucharist and why it should inform all aspects of our lives.
Bishop Olmsted writes of the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist, “This concerns the most important reality of our lives – the saving presence of our Lord. This is not a teaching that can be dumbed down or oversimplified. This is a truth that we need to be clear and certain about. Be bold, then!”
Cale Clarke recently discussed this new Apostolic Exhortation on The Cale Clarke Show, and noted a perceptive point that Bishop Olmsted makes in his letter.
“He talks about the trickle-down, cascading effect, kind of an avalanche of bad things that happen when we lose our belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist,” Cale pointed out. “And one of the things he said is that it leads to declining Catholic influence in society if people don’t buy into the Eucharist.”
“If we have nothing distinctive to give the world, if there’s no difference between a Catholic life and secular life, then what’s the point?” Cale asked.
The focus of U.S. bishops on Eucharistic coherence comes amidst discussion about whether Catholic politicians whose policies support abortion, euthanasia, and other evils should present themselves for Holy Communion.
In his letter, Bishop Olmsted states, “Eucharistic coherence means that our ‘Amen’ at Holy Communion includes not only the recognition of the Real Presence but also a communion bound together by embracing and living Christ’s entire teaching handed down to us through the Church.”
Communion with the Church as necessary for the reception of Holy Communion is not a new concept, or a matter of politics at all. The Church has taught this since the beginning, and the political realm is simply the most publicized focus of this discussion today.
“Obviously, we’re living in an environment where there are people who are Catholic but they are not practicing their faith,” Cale said. “And there are a lot of Catholic politicians holding anti-Catholic views on faith and morals, and seeing no conflict. They [think they] can be for abortion and then present themselves for the Eucharist.”
But Cale recalled the words of St. Justin Martyr, a Church Father from the 1st century, saying, “[Justin Martyr] said we only allow those to receive the Eucharist who a) believe our teaching is true, and b) are living in the manner in which Christ has enjoined.”
Cale explained, “Really, he’s talking about faith and morals there. Belief in the teachings is faith and living in the Christian manner is morals. These are the things that we need to present ourselves to receive Our Lord.”
Read Bishop Thomas Olmsted’s full Apostolic Exhortation, Veneremur Cernui (Down in Adoration Falling)