It’s the most significant moment in Mass, but nearly 70 percent of Catholics don’t even believe what it means.
Transubstantiation — the changing of the bread and wine into Christ’s Body and Blood — is the central mystery of Catholic faith, and the Lay Division of St. John Vianney Theological Seminary is trying to grow Catholics’ understanding of this imperative Church teaching through a course at the Denver Catholic Biblical and Catechetical.
During the summer, the Lay Division offered an online course called “The Holy Eucharist: The Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ” in response to a 2019 Pew Research survey showing a lack of belief among Catholics.
“When I read that survey, that only 31 percent of Catholics believe what the Church teaches, I was really annoyed… angered,” said Derek Barr, Denver Catholic Biblical and Catechetical School instructor. “I thought I could start complaining, then, from the Lord, I thought ‘I’m a teacher, I should teach.’”
Barr began teaching this three-week class so people could learn the history about the Eucharist and why the Catholic Church believes what it does. Once he walks them through the convincing typology within the Bible and other supporting references, they can see why Christ is truly present. The response to the course, which is supported through Lay Division funding by the Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal, has been positive.
“The foreshadowing in the Old Testament is incredible, if people would just take the time to learn,” said former course student Jack Maher.
Those who have taken the course strongly recommend the class for all baptized Catholics, particularly those who think of the Eucharist as merely a symbol.
“[This course] ought to convince any struggling Catholic of the real presence,” said Bill McCaa, former student, and Biblical and Catechetical School graduate. “In my opinion, one would gain convincing evidence of the Real Presence even if they had very limited, or no knowledge, of the Catholic faith or the Bible.”
The Lay Division intends to again offer this course on the Eucharist in June 2023.
For more information, visit sjvlaydivision.org/short-courses.
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