The Catechetical Review - Communicating Christ for a New Evangelization

RCIA & Adult Faith Formation: Experience without Substance

Authored by Fr. Drake McCalister in Issue #8.4 of Catechetical Review

Foundational Doctrines Are the Key to Eucharistic Revival

Vector image of Sacramentary, chalice, paten and host, and stoleSeveral years ago, a Protestant couple came to my parish RCIA to support friends who were becoming Catholic. They came every week for the entire process. After one of the sessions, they asked, very sincerely, “We believe the Catholic teaching on the Eucharist. You say those who do not profess the same belief in the Eucharist cannot receive to protect them from receiving unworthily. Since we believe, why can’t we receive?” I gently explained that to truly profess belief in the Eucharist is to believe all that is connected to the Eucharist. It is not possible to accept the Eucharist while at the same time rejecting the authority that makes the Eucharist possible. The Eucharist is a sacrament of unity.

The Church in the United States is focusing on a National Eucharistic Revival. In some sense, the RCIA process is always one of Eucharistic revival because receiving the Eucharist is the apex of the initiation process. What the couple in the opening story illustrates is that understanding, accepting, and living the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist requires full acceptance of the underlying, fundamental doctrines—not just believing Jesus is substantially present.

The premise of this article is that to convince people of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist without their acceptance of the underlying doctrines is leading them to an experience without substance. This article will briefly talk about the purpose of, problems involved with, and pathway to leading people to a full understanding of the Eucharist.

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This article is from The Catechetical Review (Online Edition ISSN 2379-6324) and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of The Catechetical Review by contacting

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