The Eucharist is Jesus.

Communicating that might just be the greatest challenge of our lives. So many of our fellow Catholics don’t even know it or, if they have heard it, believe it.

Years ago, in a book called Being Catholic Now edited by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s daughter Kerry Kennedy, current Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi wrote about the first Communion of one of her grandchildren. Before Mass, they were lying on a bed, as the girl explained to her grandmother: “That it is the body and blood of Christ. When we go to church, it is the body and blood of Christ.”

Pelosi then explains that the girl’s mother then responds: “Yes, the host and the wine represent the body and blood of Christ.” The granddaughter corrected her elder, proving she had a real Catholic education: “Not represent. It is the body and blood of Christ.”

Pelosi then wrote: “My granddaughter was buying into it, okay. But it is hard. Every Sunday for me it’s hard. Christ had died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. Now think of it, we say that every week. Do I really believe he’s coming again? Yes, I believe he’s coming again. Christ died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. This is my body, this is my blood. They’re asking a lot. In my era, we didn’t question any of it.”

Here in the United States, we are having all kinds of debates about eucharistic coherence and the reception of the Eucharist by politicians who publicly support abortion. But our problem runs deeper. On a fundamental level, it’s not about abortion, nor about politics. It’s about our unbelief.

In 2008, the Democratic National Convention was in Denver, where Archbishop Chaput was assigned at the time. During Sunday night Mass before the opening of the convention, he preached: “If you’re Catholic and you disagree with your Church, what do you do? You change your mind.”

I often wonder if people truly know what the Church really teaches about things, or if they have had a real encounter with our eucharistic Lord.

At the opening of a conference on the anniversary of St. Pope John Paul’s book Ecclesia in America, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger talked about the challenges of secularism and issues that plague human life and families. He referenced abortion, as well as other kinds of violence.

He said, “All these important questions require careful study. Yet in addition to their technical evaluation, the Catholic Church is convinced that the light for an adequate solution can only come from encounter with the living Christ, which gives rise to attitudes and ways of acting based on love and truth. This is the decisive force which will transform the American continent.”

And then he continued:

“Dear friends, the love of Christ impels us to devote ourselves without reserve to proclaiming his Name throughout America, bringing it freely and enthusiastically to the hearts of all its inhabitants. There is no more rewarding or beneficial work than this. There is no greater service that we can provide to our brothers and sisters. They are thirsting for God. For this reason, we ought to take up this commitment with conviction and joyful dedication, encouraging priests, deacons, consecrated men and women and pastoral agents to purify and strengthen their interior lives ever more fully through a sincere relationship with the Lord and a worthy and frequent reception of the sacraments. This will be encouraged by suitable catechesis and a correct and ongoing doctrinal formation marked by complete fidelity to the word of God and the Church’s Magisterium and aimed at offering a response to the deepest questions and aspirations of the human heart. The witness of your faith will thus be more eloquent and incisive, and you will grow in unity in the fullfilment of your apostolate. A renewed missionary spirit and zealous generosity in your commitment will be an irreplaceable contribution to what the universal Church expects and needs from the Church in America.”

This cannot happen without our complete devotion to Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. The sacramental life is the only way for there to be any kind of true renewal in the Church in the world….

The above comes from a July 30 story by Kathryn Jean Lopez in Angelus News.