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Is the Eucharist Working?

Psychologically it is very difficult to enter into the Eucharistic Mystery when the congregation at Mass seems to be engaged in following a ritual which produces no obvious beneficial transformational results

by Kevin J. Murphy

We in the church - pope, bishops, priests, teachers, parents - have failed to communicate an appreciation of the transformational power of the Eucharist.

In our teaching, is too much emphasis being placed on other aspects of the Eucharist, to the exclusion of an emphasis on its transforming power?

Many Catholics seem to have no awareness that they can be associated with the process to new life that is present and celebrated in the Eucharist.

Many Catholics may have heard the claim that this transformation happens, but they have not experienced it in their own lives; neither have they seen evidence in others that such transformation actually happens in and as a result of the celebration of the Eucharist. Consequently they see no value in going to Sunday Mass.

Some individual Catholics may have an awareness of entering into the mystery of Eucharistic transformation but do not have the good fortune of having access to a faith community which shares that awareness in the way they celebrate the Eucharist. Psychologically, as an isolated individual, it is very difficult to enter into the Eucharistic Mystery, understood as a transformation process, when the congregation at Mass seems to be merely engaged in following a religious ritual which produces no obvious beneficial transformational results.

The community gathering can have value as a support to those in the community, yet the Eucharist is more than a community gathering.

We say that Jesus Christ is present in the gathered community, but is he always effectively present in bringing about transformation? In faith we know that the risen Jesus wants to do this, but his offered gift has to be received, appreciated, used and shared.

When this happens people will change, will grow as human beings, will want to be a part of a community that is being transformed into the family of God, through association with the death and resurrection of Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

If it doesn't happen, if the gift is not recognised and received, people will not be attracted to become Catholic Christians, and even those who have been baptised as children will continue to leave.

Kevin Murphy is a priest of the Ballarat Diocese

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