Does the Eucharist have any impact on society?
August 2, 2020, 12:00 PM
Faith fuels people. It is what makes them “tick.” And people form societies and change the world. So how has faith, specifically in the Eucharist, fueled people to impact society? 

Our Western civilization, full of beautiful ideals, from freedom and democracy to care for the por, is founded on core beliefs about our God-given human dignity. (This is echoed in the eloquent words of Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”) The beliefs arose, not by accident, out of a profoundly Christian world. Catholicism awakened the world to the concept of human dignity more than any other philosophy or belief system had ever done. That the Son of God would give His life for us, and allow every person to receive Him physically in the Eucharist – rich and poor, sick and well, young and old – reveals who we are in the eyes of God. A man is not worth how much money he has in the bank; he is “worth” God the Son to God the Father. He is worth the Eucharist. 

The Church has reflected on these things for millennia. This is what fueled the Catholic Church to civilize many of the lands that our ancestors came from, starting (literally inventing) universities, hospitals, countless social programs to serve the poor, protecting classical learning in the midst of barbarian invaders, and commissioning most of the art that you see today in Europe. It was probably a Catholic missionary who taught your great-great-great-great-grandfather, “Thor, it isn’t OK to club your wife because you had a bad day at work!” 

Believing that God calls us to progress even to the point of becoming like Him has also inspired countless Christians throughout history to apply this principle to the temporal world (which, by the way, they saw as good because God entered it when His Son became flesh) and to excel in science and technology. (Did you know a nineteenth-century Augustinian monk, Fr. Gregor Mendel, is considered the father of genetics?) This simple concept of human dignity is still at the basis of the Catholic Church’s social teachings as she continues to encourage human development and to fight “barbarism” in its many forms today. Every Church teaching, from the Gospel of Life to our obligation to help the poor and support the rights of workers, can be summed up in this: Do not diminish man’s God-given worth. The love shown to us in the Eucharist continues to fuel the Church in her fight for a more humane world – a society founded on the principal of human dignity.