By Jessica Easthope
For many Catholics, it’s been more than a year since they’ve been in church, and more than a year since they received the Eucharist. Now the bishop of Brooklyn says it’s time to come back.
“The Eucharist heals, it’s a remedy for all of the ills that we have because we’re close to the Lord himself,” said Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio.
The importance of receiving the Eucharist is the subject of a new pastoral letter just issued by Bishop DiMarzio. Now that restrictions are being lifted throughout Brooklyn and Queens, he believes it’s important to get back into the pews.
“Reminding people of the centrality of the Eucharist, how important it really is and what we believe about it,” he said.
In his letter, Bishop DiMarzio cites a Pew Research Center survey that showed only 31 percent of Catholics believe the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Jesus Christ. The survey also showed that belief is most common among older Catholics.
“They haven’t kept up with their faith,” the bishop said. “In my generation, we memorized every question. This is not the catechesis that most people got. They didn’t get that clear understanding of our faith that was in prior generations, so it kind of watered itself down.”
Bishop DiMarzio believes the livestreaming of Masses has been a great tool during the pandemic, but can’t serve as a replacement for receiving the Eucharist. He added that it’s the job of priests to make Mass enjoyable.
“It’s important that they celebrate reverently, correctly, and have good sermons,” the bishop said. “There has to be something attractive. It’s an obligation, yes, but it shouldn’t be onerous, it should make us happy.”
Though many COVID-19 limitations are dwindling, Bishop DiMarzio says the pain of the health crisis is still there, but the Eucharist can help us move past it.
“If we ever needed to come to the Eucharist – now is the time,” he said. “There’s so much burden this pandemic has put on us, but the relief can come through the Eucharist and will show us that some good can come out of this pandemic.