03 September 2009

Poll: many Asian Youth don't understand Eucharist

John Paul II, World Youth Day, Manila, 1995

CBCP News, the newsagency of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, reported yesterday that a poll shows that many Asian youth don't understand the Eucharist.

I'm not surprised by this. I find that many older people, not only in the Philippines, but in Ireland and elsewhere, seem to lack an awareness that the bread and wine brought up at the offertory of the Mass becomes the Body and Blood of Christ. I frequently hear Catholics referring to the Precious Blood as 'the wine'. Very few seem to genuflect when the enter a church.

The five recent Sundays when the Gospel reading was taken from John 6 was an opportunity to teach people the basics, an opportunity that I took. I also heard Archbishop Charles J, Chaput OFM Cap of Denver do the same in his homilies during that period and which can be heard online.

A couple of years ago when I did the same one Sunday in the parish where I now go home to in Ireland. Afterwards a man around my own age came to me and thanked me.

Here is the CBCP News report:

MANILA, Sept 2, 2009—In this modern age, still many young Asian Catholics do not fully understand what the Eucharist is all about, according to a survey.

This situation has served as an “eye opener” for the Catholic hierarchy to make theological and pastoral reflections on the Eucharist and the young faithful.

The poll, they said, also provided them a more “factual look” at the youth who are not just the future of the Church “but the hope of the present.”

Initiated by the Youth Desk of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC), the survey showed how young people have taken the Eucharist out of context.

In the 1, 033 youth respondents aged 15 to 35 from 12 Asian countries including the Philippines, 30 percent believe that it protects them from harm and 17 percent think that it is a mean to obtain luck.

Infanta Bishop Rolando Tirona, however, said the result should not be a cause alarm because a bulk of those surveyed has a “tremendous” appreciation of the Mass.

“Majority of them or 65 percent believe that they are receiving the body of Christ in Holy Communion,” the survey said.

Also, half of the respondents have recognized that the Eucharist “help them grown in their relationship with God.”

The Youth Desk was organized under the Office of the Laity, chaired by Bishop Tirona, as the official arm of FABC that responds to the needs and concerns of Asian youth.
Little influence

While majority of them claimed of actively participating and have ‘adequate’ understanding in the Eucharist, still some said it really doesn’t have much weight into their daily lives.

“Though young Catholics generally rated themselves as adequate in terms of their understanding(2.2 mean rating) and average in their participation (7.06 mean rating ) in the Eucharist, they also revealed that it has had a very little influence on their daily activities (1.97 mean rating),” the survey showed.

Only 0.6 percent of Asian Catholic youth acknowledge the parish as their source of information and understanding on the Eucharist and more than 50 percent claimed to have known through “personal readings”.

When asked about their reasons for attending the Mass, majority expressed their desire to worship, give thanks and pray.

“This has more weight compared to the community dimension and the formative component that the Mass offers,” the FABC said.

“61% of the respondents maintain that silence before the Eucharist helps them to prepare for the celebration. There may be a need however, to support them in preparing through reflection on the Sunday readings (33%) going on a Eucharistic fast (37%) and going to confession (33%),” it added.


Bishop Tirona said what the Church now wants to do if for the young faithful realized that the Eucharist is a “very powerful force” that can move them to be “agents of transformation.”

“That is the challenge,” said the chairman of FABC’s Office of the Laity.

One way of doing this, according to him, is for the Church to come up with a “creative liturgy”.
In other words, he added, the celebration of the Mass should speak to the young people.

AYD: A catalyst

The survey book was launched during the 9th FABC plenary assembly last August 2009 at the Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila.

It is hoped that the study may be considered in evaluating catechesis for the young as well as pastoral programs that aim to instill a “Eucharistic spirituality” among them.

The survey will also serve as a major resource paper to be used in the upcoming Asian Youth Day to be held in the Diocese of Imus from November 20 to 30, 2009.

“We hope that this event would serve as a catalyst,” Bishop Tirona said. “We really want them to help the Church in its mission to transform.”

San Fernando Auxiliary Bishop Roberto Mallari said Asian Youth Day is a pilgrimage of faith, where young people from diverse backgrounds meet and experience the love of God.

“We wanted to bring together young Catholics from Asia to celebrate and learn about their faith on a more regular basis,” he said.

He said the Catholic festival is a way to reach out to the next generation of Catholics and ensure that the core teachings of Christ are transmitted and lived. (Roy Lagarde)

World Youth Day, Manila, 1995, Closing Mass

Tabernacle in Mariukirkjan, the Church of Mary, Torshavn, the only Catholic church in the Faroe Islands. Designed by Ole Jacob Nielsen, a parishioner.

I came across an article on Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on KATÓLSKA KIRKJEN, Tórshavn, Føroyar (Faroe Islands), the website of the tiny Catholic community there. It teaches the basics.

On the last Sunday of each month, there is Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the parish church (Mariukirkjan) between three and six o´clock in the afternoon, followed by Evening Prayer (Vespers) in Faroese. When the Wise Men followed the star to Bethlehem after the birth of Jesus, they fell down on their knees when they saw the child with his mother and adored him. Every time we hear about people in the Bible meeting God, we are told that they fall on their faces and adore God. Adoration is the reaction of a believer in an encounter with the almighty God.

Once, many years ago, a mother told me that she came into a Catholic church with her seven or eight-year-old son. They went to the tabernacle, where the Real Presence of Jesus under the form of consecrated Bread is kept. The boy threw himself down spontaneously in front of the Blessed Sacrament. The mother got embarrassed and looked around her to see if anyone had seen it. I asked her: “What did you feel?”. She replied: “I wanted to do the same, but didn´t dare!”

Jesus shows us his great love by making his dwelling amongst us under the form of bread, which is reserved in the tabernacle in the Catholic church: “And look, I am with you always; yes, to the end of time” (Matthew 28:20).
Why is Jesus really present in our Catholic churches in this way? In order to draw everyone to himself in a very “earthly” way. It is a place where we can go and meet Jesus today. The church is his dwelling, not just when we gather for Mass or prayer services, but all the time. The church is a holy place, because it is God´s house on earth.

We, Catholics, believe with all our heart, that the bread and wine really change during Mass to the Body and Blood of Jesus. The Bread is therefore the sign of Jesus´ real presence also after Mass. Faith in Jesus´ Sacramental and Real Presence has been deeply anchored in the hearts of Catholics for hundreds of years, with the result that we not only gather around him during Mass, but also have Adoration in front of the exposed Sacrament or privately seek him in the church for our personal prayer in front of the tabernacle.

There is a story about a priest who once came into a country church and saw an old man sitting quietly before the tabernacle at the altar. The priest had noticed him before. He asked him: What are you doing?” He answered. “I look at him and he looks at me, and then we ´re happy”. That is faith!

Benediction in Mariukirjan, Tórshavn

The individual and communal adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is a continuation of the Mass. It is as if we can never stop being together with Jesus whom we meet during Mass.

Just as it is Jesus himself (and not the priest) who invites us to come to Mass and to his table, it is also he who invites us to pay him a visit in the church during the day or during the course of the week.

The monthly adoration in our church is an invitation from the Lord to be together with him in order to receive his love and to adore him as our God. Come, therefore, as often as possible, even if it´s only for part of the time. Non-Catholics are also welcome!

It is the Church´s ancient tradition to close each day with Evening Prayer (Vespers), which is the liturgical evening prayer service. It is prayed daily in convents, but many parish churches also pray, for example, on Sunday, just as there are many lay people who pray it privately and unite themselves with the whole church in the daily praise of our Triune God. Therefore, we end Adoration with Evening prayer, so that our parish can also be united in this worldwide fellowship of prayer.

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