Many years ago, as a young seminarian studying in Rome, I traveled to southern Italy to attend a relative’s wedding. Neither side of the family seemed particularly devout. Like typical cultural Catholics of that era, they didn’t necessarily regularly attend Mass much, but they knew when they got married, they went to the church.

Having dinner at the bride’s family home, I could tell the daughter, attentive to the details of hospitality, didn’t quite know how to relate to me.

The television was on, featuring an old movie in which a young lady goes to Mass, receives Communion, then returns to her place in the pew and removes the Host from her mouth and places it in her purse. At that moment, the immediate, instinctive reaction of the supposedly secular daughter was to gasp in horror.

This small story reflects something important: the very deep intuitive sense of sacred reverence toward the Blessed Sacrament that was common in the Catholic world up until recently, but is now rapidly vanishing. A recent Pew Research poll revealed that only one-third of self-identifying Catholics believe that the Holy Eucharist is the actual Body and Blood of Christ, and even only 63% of regular Massgoers accept this core Catholic belief. Many devout Catholics are reacting with shock and angst.  ….