Abbot Jeremy Driscoll gazes at the chalice as Archbishop Alexander Sample raises it during a 2016 Mass at the abbey. (Frank Miller/Mount Angel Abbey)
Abbot Jeremy Driscoll gazes at the chalice as Archbishop Alexander Sample raises it during a 2016 Mass at the abbey. (Frank Miller/Mount Angel Abbey)
Last August, the Pew Research Center released the results of a survey that sought to determine whether or not Catholics believe the church’s teaching of transubstantiation. How many believe the bread and wine used for Communion become, at the words of consecration, the body and blood of Christ? The conclusion was that only about 30 percent of practicing Catholics believe in this fundamental teaching of our faith.

When asked my opinion about the survey, I confess to not jumping to read it. Instead, I thought gratefully (and with pride) of the more than 150 seminarians and monks I live with here at Mount Angel Seminary. We attend Mass daily, receive Our Lord in holy Communion with reverence and love, and spend many hours — day and night — in the presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

How can we help the world come to know and believe in the presence of Christ in the Eucharist? For us monks, it’s by doing our best to teach and prepare seminarians to be prayerful, joyful, faithful priests. We work to inspire and educate future pastors who will go into parishes, schools, hospitals, prisons and all other places of ministry to proclaim the Gospel and provide the sacraments. That is what we have done for the past 131 years.

We have built our entire program of theology around the Eucharist. In academic terms, we call it, “Communion ecclesiology,” or, “eucharistic ecclesiology.” Each course is built around some aspect of the Mass. Whether a course focuses on Scripture, spirituality, parish community or moral theology it begins and ends with Eucharist. In each Mass, we recreate the eternal story of salvation: God the Father sends his Son into this world to dwell among us. His death and resurrection effect our salvation, and all the power and grace of his sacrifice is made present to us in the Eucharist. The Holy Spirit comes and unites us to the Lord in his offering.

Not everyone has the opportunity or inclination to study theology. But we can attend Mass, listen to the word of God proclaimed, and lovingly receive the body and blood of Christ into our hearts. And we can pray for and support our seminarians as they learn to preach the word of God and celebrate Mass in such a way that we, as a church, come to know and love the Eucharist ever more deeply.

Don’t be timid about learning more and more about the church’s teachings on the Eucharist. God would not have set up revelation in such a way that we can’t get it. He set it up in such a way that we can get it. We don’t have to be a trained theologian to understand the faith deeply. Attend Mass. Listen to the word of God proclaimed. Pay attention to the words of consecration: “This is my body. This is my blood.” Welcome Christ into your heart in holy Communion. And walk out joyfully, with confidence, when you hear the words, “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.”



Abbot Jeremy is leader of Mount Angel Abbey and chancellor of Mount Angel Seminary.