How to Believe?


This must seem like an odd question: how are we to believe in the Real Presence?

By believing, we might answer. How else do you believe?

True enough. But more concretely, how are we to express our belief? We are to express our belief by doing on our part what Christ does on His part. He comes to us. So we must come to Him, and this is not locomotion through space. He comes down to us. We must come up to Him. He is present in the Eucharist in order to be near to us. We must be present -- change the accent -- we must be present to the Eucharist in order to be near to Him. He went to the superhuman length of becoming man, then changing bread and wine into Himself, then giving His Apostles the power to do the same, then giving them the power to pass on this power to others to do the same. And in virtue of that power, He is now here with us.

He wants us, in turn, also now, here, to be with Him. And here nobody cheats. It is impossible in human terms to exaggerate the importance of being in a church or chapel before the Blessed Sacrament as often and for as long as our duties and state of life allow. I very seldom repeat what I say. Let me repeat this sentence. It is impossible in human language to exaggerate the importance of being in a chapel or church before the Blessed Sacrament as often and for as long as our duties and state of life allow. That sentence is the talisman of the highest sanctity.

What I am expressing is not a pious practice or a luxury of the spiritual life. I am talking about its essence. Those who believe what I am saying and act on their belief are in possession of the greatest treasure available to man in this valley of tears. As by now thousands of saintly men and women have testified from experience, this is somewhere near the key to holiness. For this reason, I strongly recommend that each of us make a resolution -- no matter how much the decision may cost us -- to make a holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament exposed or reserved at least once a month or, if possible, once a week, and if we have the grace and our vocation in life permits it, even several times a week. Think of the empty hours that people spend weekly before the television screen -- an average I am told of some twenty hours per man, woman and child in America. God help America!

It is impossible in human terms to exaggerate the importance of being in a church or chapel before the Blessed Sacrament as often and for as long as our duties and state of life allow.

Someone may object, "But you are talking about mystics or saints, and I am neither. I am just an ordinary Catholic trying to save my soul." My reply: there can be no ordinary Catholics today, not with the revolution through which society is passing and the convulsion in the Church on every level. The Church today needs strong Catholics, wise Catholics, Catholics who are not swayed by public opinion or afraid to stand up for the truth. She needs Catholics who are willing to suffer for their convictions and, if need be, shed their blood for the Faith.

Where, we ask, can they obtain this strength and wisdom, this patience and conviction and this loyal love of God that is faithful unto death? They can obtain it from the one who said, "Have courage, I have overcome the world." He is not two thousand years away, or absent from the earth in a distant heaven that cannot be spanned. No, He is right here in the Eucharist. And He wants nothing more than that we also be with Him as much as we can. If we are, and the more we are -- as the great Eucharistic saints tell us -- He will not only make us holy, but He will use us as He used those in Palestine who, when He first made the promise of the Eucharist, did not walk away. He will use us as channels of His grace even to the ends of the earth and until the end of time.



Father John A. Hardon. "How to Believe?" from Spiritual Life in the Modern World (originally published in 1982 by the Daughters of St. Paul).

Reprinted with permission from Inter Mirifica.


Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J. (1914-2000) was a tireless apostle of the Catholic faith. The author of over twenty-five books including Catholic Prayer Book, The Catholic Catechism, Modern Catholic Dictionary, Pocket Catholic Dictionary, Pocket Catholi Catechism, Q & A Catholic Catechism, Treasury of Catholic Wisdom, Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan and many other Catholic books and hundreds of articles, Father Hardon was a close associate and advisor of Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II, and Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity. Order Father Hardon's home study courses here.

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