CARA, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Gerogetown University, has been studying the Catholic church and conducting surveys for years. By analyzing the statistics, CARA recently published what average American Catholics are like, their attitudes towards their definition of being Catholic, their habits and their beliefs. http://americamagazine.org/issue/your-average-american-catholic
According to their statistics, 45% of all Catholics go to church once a month and on major holidays and 4% make up the “core” Catholics who will attend mass weekly and volunteer at church or participate in church activities.
First of all, I wonder what the average Canadian Catholics look like. I do not believe there are 4% or more parishioners volunteering at my church.
Another shocker in the article is about how the average American Catholic disagrees with church teachings. Interestingly, when it comes to the idea of Transubstantiation, it claims that only 46 % of American Catholics are aware that the Catholic Church teaches the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist!
I have always found that the major difference between our Catholic mass and the Sunday service at other Christian denominational churches is our Eucharist. It is the understanding of the presence of Jesus and the partaking of the body and blood of Christ that draws me to the Mass. My understanding is that we are participating in the Last Supper with Jesus Christ during Mass. There is actually a high possibility that I would have joined another Christian church if someone could convince me that there is no real presence of Christ in our Eucharist. Without the Last Supper, attending church becomes a social gathering of the like-minded: A social gathering where we share our love of Christ together and get to know Christ through the readings. However, we can all love Christ and read the Bible at home. If we were to pick a social gathering for the like-minded, we would naturally just pick one that provides the best “entertainment” for ourselves. Just like any other social gatherings, it is also easy to let other activities take higher priority, especially since entertainment is not a necessity. Perhaps, it is this lack of understanding of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist that leads to the decline of Catholics attending church.