We often repeat that the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life. What happens when this source and summit has been rejected by a majority of Catholics? We received a wakeup call from the 2019 Pew survey on Eucharistic belief, or lack thereof, among Catholics (with only 31% affirming transubstantiation), and ever since we have been scrambling about what to do. The U.S. bishops have initiated a multiyear Eucharistic revival, which began this last summer and will culminate next July in the first Eucharistic Congress in our country since 1926.
The revival provides us with a great opportunity for renewal of faith and practice, but we also need to address the root cause of the crisis.
Should we have been surprised by the Pew survey? An overwhelming majority of Catholics do not attend Mass regularly. I suppose if Catholics believed in the Real Presence, they would make more of an effort to go to Mass to receive it. For decades, the Church offered abysmal catechesis — a problem that has been rectified somewhat in the last 20 years, at least in terms of the quality of content offered.
The crisis goes beyond instruction, however, needing a deeper and more holistic approach to catechesis. We learn from what we see more than what we hear. Have we been acting like Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist? Do we act like the Incarnate God has made himself present to us when we are at Mass, or do we act more like we are receiving a piece of bread? It’s an important question for each of us to ask as we enter into a revival of our Eucharistic life.
The Eucharist, more than simply a belief, is meant to be lived. Our revival will be successful if Jesus’s sacramental presence in the Church truly does become the source and summit of the Christian life. The Eucharist is meant to be the center of how we live, shaping everything we do and making it an expression of our communion with Christ. Catechesis is meant to be an apprenticeship in how to live as a Christian. Even though one of its goals is to teach the faith, it is not meant to simply convey information but rather focus on deepening faith and help the catechized to appropriate their faith and live it out in prayer, charity, and mission.
We need a catechesis of the Eucharist that will help Catholics to receive the graces offered in the sacrament and respond to them concretely. If we embrace this gift more deeply, we will see transformation in the Church and also the world.
Can the Eucharist save civilization? This is the title of my new book, which seeks to explain how Eucharist builds culture, an entire way of life that flows forth from its divine presence. Jesus’s sacramental presence makes us his tabernacles in the world, sanctifying all that we do. There is no more powerful force in the universe for change, for the renewal of not only our own lives but the entire world. God changes the world not simply by sweeping away the problems of our society and setting up a perfect form of government; his kingdom is not of this world, of course. He changes the world by changing us and gives us a mission to take the graces he gives us and put them into action.
The Eucharist is our plan of action, the source that provides the true solution to our problems and the summit toward which we aspire: communion with God and others.
In our revival, we should think big. If we simply aim at better teaching or hosting a few events, we will make an impact but perhaps not one that will turn the lives of Catholics upside down. That is what we need: a complete revitalization of Catholics through the awesome mystery of the Eucharist. Look at what the Eucharist has done in the past. It gave Christians courage to withstand lions in the Colosseum, guided monks in creating oases of prayer in a barbarian world, inspired the construction of transcendently beautiful churches, led missionaries across the globe, and has kept the Church alive, somehow, through so many crises in the modern world. This is why we need to think bigger.
Jesus wants to revitalize the world and its culture through us right now, and this revival must begin within us.
The Eucharist is the greatest force for change. It can and will transform us into other Christs for the world. We are not simply individuals, however, no matter how much the world tells us that we are autonomous. Civilization, which is itself a communion of people, can be saved by changing and transforming those living within it. By transforming our lives, God will begin the work of transforming our family, our parish, our work, and, over time, even our civilization. This should be the goal of our Eucharistic revival.
(Dr. Staudt’s column is syndicated by the Denver Catholic, the official publication of the Archdiocese of Denver.)
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Dear Dr. Jared, may our Eucharistic Jesus Christ bless you for what you wrote here about the Eucharist. In fact, you made my day reading your splendid piece here. Remain blessed 😇🙏🙏👏❤️
The way the Mass is celebrated at the average parish, as a man-centered, non-Divine, “doing-things”-focused activity, is the first place people learn (or don’t learn) the deepest reality of our Faith. I’m no traddie, but when priests and bishops permit the Mass to be “done” and the Eucharist to be received and treated the way it/they are, the results today are predictable. Let anyone propose remedies that are “traditional” and they are lambasted, criticized, attacked. And yet (again, I’m not a TLM Mass goer) those with traditional practices are (virtually) the kind of beliefs, practices and such that we all know we need to get back to! The bishops’ hostility and/or neglect and/or ignoring of Tradition in the authentic growth of the Mass down through the centuries is the ultimate cause. I’m no reactionary. Read in the correct light (as JPII and B16 did), Vatican II was an atomic bomb from the Holy Spirit. It still has yet to be authentically implemented anywhere. The Mass IS Source and Summit. But, God has to be treated LIKE GOD as best we can – and what the Novus Ordo is and how it is celebrated and how seminaries are all militate against that in almost every possible way. Go back to Vatican II itself. Throw away the undeniable hijackings by worldliness and start again, treating the Mass and the Eucharist as the saints have done. Anything less is unworthy of Him.
Thank you Tim! Your reply adresses the problems surrounding the Novus Ordo Mass, where every priest can do his own thing. I have been attending the Tridentine Mass for 20 years (I’m now 51 years old). Since marrying my husband, we sometimes attend the local parish Mass, and I am deeply concerned for the souls of the priests & Mass attendees, as in all appearances by their behavior, they must not believe in the Real Presence. They are there for the community & all we hear is ‘love’ for…you guessed it, the community. During Lent so far, and we have been attending the Stations of the Cross at the Novus Ordo parish, it’s the first time I’ve seen the priest not leading the stations, and there’s very little kneeling. It’s again all about showing love and kindess to our neighbours, which we’ve meant to do, but there is no mention of repentance of sins or the need to confess them. And there are so many examples of the loss of faith amongst Catholics. A truly tragic result from the disobedience of Bishops & priests after Vatican II, resulting in the Novus Ordo Mass we see today in the majority of parishes. Can someone also expain why so many Novus Ordo Catholics raise their hands (like the priest) during the Our Father, when our hands should be together in prayer? Catholics never did that before. I go to Mass to love, worship and adore my God and focus on Him alone. I now have my husband attending the Tridentine Mass and only on occasion will I attend the Novus Ordo ‘community meal service.’ There’s just no comparison and very little resemblance of Catholicism.
To develop anew a proper devotion to the Eucharist:
1) emphasize the Divinity of Christ
2) discuss the rational incomprehensibilty of the Incarnation: a miracle beyond imagining; how could God become a baby?
3) emphasize the utter holiness of Christ; divinely, perfectly holy yet present to us unholy
4) emphasize Christ’s perfect innocence whereby no punishment was justified against Him.
5) emphasize that Christ, in obedience to the Father, assumed upon Himself in spirit and body the burden and agony of all the sins of all of mankind for all of time; such that even His Precious Blood exuded from His skin and He groaned in His pain
6) teach that the Perfect Justice of Almighty God requires repentance and atonement for sin and that Christ, perfectly innocent and completely powerful to destroy His persecutors, yet gave Himself in brutal suffering and apparent humiliation to the arrogance of the mob over to an excruciating spectacle of being nailed alive to a tree: a Perfect Sacrifice for atonement.
Teach that we are what we consume: that Christ gave His Body and Blood for our s Salvation and by giving us the Eucharist He is ever present to us spiritually and physically although he chose the basic foods of bread and wine present Himself to us.
7) teach that our bodies are sanctified by His Holy Body and our Souls are washed clean by His Holy Blood,
8) bring back communion rails
9) elevate the tabernacle above the altar so the priest does not turn his back on our Savior King
10) reception only on the tongue and with intinction
11) get rid of Eucharistic ministers
Staudt’s article, including his reference to the 2019 Pew survey, indicates a startling failure by the US bishops to teach.
The task of destroying the Church from within falls most heavily, as it always has, on the shoulders of the clergy.
I might be labeled a pessimist for this, but I do not believe that the bishops’ Eucharistic Revival will make a substantial difference in belief in the real presence. It is not just the vast number of non-practicing Catholics who do not believe, but the Pew survey showed that 37% of weekly mass goers think that there is just a symbolic presence. And, if only young Catholics were surveyed the numbers would be even worse.
Catholics are certainly influenced negatively by sinful elements in our culture. But, I believe that our lack of belief in the real presence was caused within the Church.
We are a Church of signs and symbols. We did away with the signs and symbols of the real presence that were present when I was young. We knelt to receive, received on the tongue, only the priest’s consecrated hands touched the Eucharist, fasted from midnight, etc.
When the Eucharistic Revival is over, Catholics will return to their parishes, and as one online priest commented, will continue to “grab and go” for communion.
I do not see the current situation changing because too many in the Church are invested in the current Eucharistic practices. No one likes to admit that “maybe we made a mistake.”
I totally agree. As John Paul II pointed out, it’s NOT a “human-led program” that is going to do…anything…worthwhile. Nowhere in the landscape of this “revival group” have I seen even a morsel of credible God-focused teaching! Clerical or lay! The obvious outcome of this “revival” will be lots of plans, programs, etc., with ZERO (credible) pointing to (obvious, age-old, unchanging) realities of the spiritual life: ever-deepening prayer, ever deeper listening (NOT doing), etc etc etc. Ever deepening contemplation/union is the ONLY TRUE “active participation.” Listening, obeying, uniting our will with His in everything. It ain’t easy. Thus, none of these “leaders” will lead down the one and Only Path. There will likely be zero (fruitful) acknowledgment or still less dealing with the painfully obvious minimizations of Our Lord in His Mass or in the Eucharist Itself. Thus, it’s a sad but foregone conclusion that our “spiritual fathers” will “produce” yet another goose egg…to the continued detriment and ruin of the Church. The answers for success are obvious…but those in charge don’t listen…to Him. It’s a “hard saying,” as the Gospel points out, and, we don’t live in a world (or a Church, anymore) where this is said or accepted any more, but there is only one Way. He must increase, (and especially in days like today), we must decrease.
Our issue for carrying out Staudt’s worthy vision of transforming the world is a deleterious change in the doctrine of Eucharist as remedy.
Amoris Laetitia and follow up advocacy by Francis is the presupposition that those living in sin can make a ‘first step’ toward full compliance with the faith. That presupposition assigns a form of ‘magic’ to the Eucharist. As if persons comfortable in their adultery, or same sex relations will be willing to change. This understanding by Pope Francis and many other hierarchy merely encourages the sinner to remain a sinner.
Remedy, a component feature of receiving the Holy Eucharist is realized in those who already are disposed to change their lives in compliance with the faith, particularly those struggling with habitual sin.
Insofar as saving civilization the process began in the early centuries through the medieval age. Declined since. What was once, primarily Europe, increasingly significant areas of the Americas considered a Christian civilization has since rejected Christ and his Eucharistic gift. Even those who still attend Sunday Mass rarely confess their sins to a priest, an indication of mitigated faith, unworthy reception of the Eucharist.
Historically, during the age of prophecy God would chastise the Chosen severely as a means of returning Israel to the faith. Usually led by an outstanding leader like the judge Judith, the king David. Today, we’ve received the Promise in Christ’s revelation and are in process of near total rejection. Figuratively, although it sounds crude, we’ve tasted Him, now are spitting him out.
It would take a miracle of God’s merciful grace, and exceptional hierarchal, perhaps individual saintly leadership to change us and reverse course. Hope is a theological virtue, combined with heroic faith and charity, Staudt’s vision is possible.
I BELIEVE ONE OF THE MANY ROOT CAUSES OF THE CRISIS OF UNBELIEF AND INDIFFERENCE TOWARD THE MASS AND THE BELIEF IN THE TRUE PRESENCE OF JESUS IN THE EUCHARIST HAS BEEN THE LACK OF PREACHING FROM BISHOPS AND PRIESTS ABOUT MORTAL SIN AND THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE DAMAGE YOU DO TO YOUR ETERNAL SOUL WHEN YOU NEGLECT YOUR SUNDAY MASSS OBLIGATION.I BELIEVE IT WAS ST. JOHN BOSCO WHO SAID ‘THE LONGER YOU ARE AWAY FROM THE EUCHARIST THE COLDER YOUR HEART BECOMES UNTIL YOU ARE INDIFFERENT.’ BRINGING BACK THE ALTAR RAIL WILL BE A START TO PROCLAIMING THE HOLINESS OF OUR FAITH AND A WAY TO BRING BACK THE CATHOLICS WHO CRAVE MORE DEVOTION AND THE FILLING THEM WITH THE DEBTH OF THE FAITH THEY ARE MISSING.
Great article Dr. Staudt.
You wrote “I suppose if Catholics believed in the Real Presence, they would make more of an effort to go to Mass to receive it.”
One way to start is to never refer to the Eucharist as “it.” The Eucharist is not a thing. It’s a person, Jesus Christ. We receive HIM, not it.
Yes, but let us have no delusions. Four points:
FIRST, we are not going to rebuild Christendom. These are Apostolic times, and the time of St. Augustine’s Two Cities. On hearing of the sacking of Rome in A.D. 410 (our cancel culture), St. Augustine sermonized: “this is grievous news, but let us remember if it’s happened, then God willed it; that men build cities and men destroy cities, that there’s also the City of God and that’s where we belong.”
SECOND, so, how is Eucharistic Renewal (already reduced from “Coherence”…) different from the flash-in-the-pan, Pentecostal Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th Centuries? With Jared Staudt, it’s surely the concrete Reality of Christ’s abundant charity through and through. The alarming, historical and real event of the Incarnation (more than an idea) and, over-abundantly, the gifted and sacramental Real Presence here and now.
THIRD, about other related things also “concrete,” then, the papal prayer intention for March is that “[w]e pray for those who have suffered harm from members of the Church; may they find within the Church herself a concrete response to their pain and suffering.” As a first step, then, let us pray that that the “concrete” response directly takes on the causes of sexual abuse (and, more broadly, really deep LGBTQ victimhood?)—grooming and exploitation, absentee or abusive fathers, gender-theory brainwashing, getting locked-in by early experimental sex and, yes, an uprooted post-“civilization” set on canceling itself, all of human history, and human nature. This realistic focus (the Veritatis Splendor thing) rather than synodally harmonizing sexual immorality, as Cardinal Hollerich & Co. have already proposed.
FOURTH, about which, this food for real synodal reflection for 2023 and 2024:
Hannah Arendt’s book, “Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil” merits a second subtitle: “…the Complicity of Evil.” Throughout, Arendt makes the case that the Holocaust could have been cut in half if the get-along-go-along, rationalizing, organized Jewish leadership groups (all of them, she says) had not facilitated (as in synodal “facilitator” bishops?) the corralling of the Jewish population into collection points and boxcars headed east. (Yes, there were unorganized resistance groups, but as now, behind the times!) The non-Jewish robots at the top, she explains, consisted of a much smaller number, most of them sitting behind desks…
So, not Christendom restored, but now at least the sanity of Apostolic times. Still time to save the Synods…
Eucharistic Revival? Absolutely essential. Eucharistic Renewal? Fervently wished and prayed for. Eucharistic love — only when our priests teach and preach convincingly that HE is there with us — in the Tabernacle, on the Altar, in the Chalice, in our hearts and minds and bodies. We continually hear homilies that rehash with enlightening quotes from Corinthians, Romans, etc. Necessary? Of course. But, the rehashing does little to inspire heartfelt devotion and love for our poor Jesus, who waits so patiently to be loved and received. Wake up, Friends! And, wake up your friends and priests and bishops! Tell them: If you want me or anyone to believe that HE waits there for us night and day then you must ACT yourself as if you believe it! Half-hearted homilies will not do it — never have, never will. Genuine love of the Christ who suffered so terribly for us — it is HIM that must be known, loved, received. And can be — but not with these homilies of ‘learned discussions’ ‘small circle groups’, etc. If you love Him, Reverend Fathers, show us! And, yes, get rid of the Eucharistic Ministers. By the way, I am a Eucharistic Minister. We’re not needed and the message is clear: no big deal here, folks. Anybody can do this. What a great, sad disservice to the One who lived, suffered, died and STILL stays with us, waiting for us to come and receive Him in true devotion and love.
Exactly where in the Gospels does Jesus ever say that his mission is to change the culture, a civilization, or for that matter, the world? Not once does He even intimate that. The author’s underlying premise seems to be that a utopia, built by Eucharistically revived Catholics, is possible. That a utopia is possible is a lie that social activist Christians and Catholics have appropriated from secular activists. Christ announces the Kingdom of Heaven, not a utopia. His death brings forgiveness of sin (right from the prayers of institution in the Eucharistic Prayers). The over-reach of the author is inevitably over-promising and misleading. It’s not helpful.
What scriptures are YOU reading? I have never seen anything so horribly wrong from one who claims to have ‘some’ biblical knowledge. I am no expert, but I try every day to become more knowledge and understanding of His words…never say you are correct or someone else is incorrect. God surprises us all…all the time!
Good question in the title. To put it briefly: no
Thus far I have heard only ONE priest in my parish make a fleeting reference about the Real Presence during a homily. Unless the PRIESTS start talking turkey on this issue, NOTHING in terms of revival will happen . A year was not enough time. FURTHER, if the priests are afraid to confront people about being late to Mass ( and how that shows disrespect to God), about the sloppy slouching manner in which they receive, and about needing to go to CONFESSION to receive worthily, and WHY, NOTHING will change. How are people supposed to LEARN and CHANGE if no one in authority TELLS them anything??? I hate to keep putting this on our priests, who are men I really love for their dedication. But YES, it is your job to do this, tell people the truth, and let the chips fall where they may. Sadly, I think almost all priests are too frightened to do this. They fear complaints from the pews to the Bishops. They should be more afraid of how they will account for their lack of application of their vocation to GOD. The people’s need was there and the priests and Bishops would have failed to fulfill it.
Divine Mercy in My Soul, 965
Jesus looked at me and said, Souls perish in spite of My bitter Passion. I am giving them the last hope of salvation; that is, the Feast of My Mercy. If they will not adore My mercy, they will perish for all eternity. Secretary of My mercy, write, tell souls about this great mercy of Mine, because the awful day, the day of My justice, is near.
Divine Mercy in My Soul, 699
I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet.
Divine Mercy in My Soul, 635 The Blessed Virgin Mary:
you have to speak to the world about His great mercy and prepare the world for the Second Coming of Him who will come, not as a merciful Savior, but as a just Judge. Oh, how terrible is that day! Determined is the day of justice, the day of divine wrath. The angels tremble before it. Speak to souls about this great mercy while it is still the time for [granting] mercy. If you keep silent now, you will be answering for a great number of souls on that terrible day.
Divine Mercy in My Soul, 299-300
I desire that the first Sunday after Easter be the Feast of Mercy. Ask of my faithful servant [Father Sopocko] that, on this day, he tell the whole world of My great mercy; that whoever approaches the Fount of Life on this day will be granted complete remission of sins and punishment.
At the request of Jesus, St. Pope John Paul II initiated Divine Mercy Sunday, which is Jesus’ ‘Feast of Mercy’, in the year 2000. Please receive Jesus’ Jesus gifts of Divine Mercy this April 16th, Divine Mercy Sunday.
Divine Mercy in My Soul, 1146
He who refuses to pass through the door of My mercy must pass through the door of My justice…
Divine Mercy in My Soul, 429
I heard these words spoken distinctly and forcefully within my soul, You will prepare the world for My final coming.
The Revival begins with me (you). I am changed by the Lord Jesus through the daily reception of the Blessed Sacrament. And through this living a Holy and different life, others are then drawn to Him, Jesus, and HE then changes THEIR lives as well!! Wow. I am witnessing this on a personal level and it is amazing to watch it happening. I (we) need only allow God to do His work in me. And people are drawn to Him IN ME. Words are insufficient to describe this miracle. The Miracle of God using a pathetic soul to draw others to Himself. All through the Immaculata. She is never absent in this work!!! Praise be Jesus Christ!
Every winter we escape the cold and travel to Venice FL for a few months. We attend Mass at Epiphany Cathedral. A few weeks back we were treated before Mass to a video (projected on no less than 6 walls of the Cathedral) to a four minute invitation by the bishop to the Eucharistic Convocation sponsored by the Diocese. I thought it highly ironic that, while listening to the bishop’s message, I eyed the tabernacle which houses the Real Presence of the Eucharistic Christ hidden off to the side and faced away from the main section of the Church. During Mass, at best, all you can see of it depending on where you sit is the back of the tabernacle. And the bishop wants, I suppose, to take his message seriously.
Another thought: why is it an affront to the people that priests who celebrate Mass ad orientem would have their backs to the people but it’s not an affront to the people to have the rear of the tabernacle facing the people? Our leaders are confused and have been for 50+ years now.
“Can the Eucharist save civilization?”
Yes. We must allow the God-Man, the Christ we receive, to walk the earth again from within us. Just as the incarnate Son of God submitted to the Father’s will, we must submit to the will of the Son incarnate again within us. He didn’t say that would be easy. He said it would require taking up our cross as He did, although there is a peace and a joy that that comes with that cross which makes His yoke easy and His burden light.
As crossless Christianity ends the conversion of the world will begin.
The Cup of wine is the New Covenant in Christ’s blood, that is poured-out for us. That Covenant is the key to blessings and curses. (See Lev.26.) The Spirit of our Heavenly Father is with us when we pray, for God knows what we need even before we seek His help. So then, sanctification involves seeking to know God. Communion with the Body of Christ involves communion with the Holy Spirit, and seeking to draw closer to God. It involves seeking to know God, (Jer. 31.34), and not just receiving the Eucharist. We are told that man lives on every word of God. Most Catholics ignore that, and are taught that they simply have to attend church on Sunday and receive the Eucharist, in order to be sanctified. No one has the authority to change the precept to live on every word of God.
As I see it, it is the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation, placed upon Catholics on Divine Mercy Sunday, which is the Revelation 7 ‘Seal of the living God’ placed upon Christ’s Elect. In Revelation 2 and 3, Jesus refers to His Catholic Bishops as ‘angels’.
Then I saw another angel come up from the East, holding the seal of the living God. He cried out in a loud voice to the four angels who were given power to damage the land and the sea, ‘Do not damage the land or the sea or the trees until we put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.’ I heard the number of those who had been marked with the seal, one hundred and forty-four thousand marked from every tribe of the Israelites:…
…Then one of the elders spoke up and said to me, ‘Who are these wearing white robes, and where did they come from’? I said to him, ‘My lord, you are the one who knows.’ He said to me, ‘These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb’.
“Alleluia! The Lord has established his reign, (our) God, the almighty. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory. For the wedding day of the Lamb has come, his bride has made herself ready. She was allowed to wear a bright, clean linen garment.”
But when the king came in to meet the guests he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment. He said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’ But he was reduced to silence. Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’ Many are invited, but few are chosen.”
Subject us not to trial but deliver us from the evil one.
New American Bible, Notes for Matthew 6:13
Jewish apocalyptic writings speak of a period of severe trial before the end of the age, sometimes called the ‘messianic woes.’ This petition asks that the disciples be spared that final test.
Catechism of the Catholic Church 1296
Christ himself declared that he was marked with his Father’s seal. Christians are also marked with a seal: “It is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has commissioned us; he has put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee”. This seal of the Holy Spirit marks our total belonging to Christ, our enrollment in his service for ever, as well as the promise of divine protection in the great eschatological trial.
Divine Mercy in My Soul, 40
During Holy Mass, before Communion, we had the renewal of vows. When we had left our kneelers and had started to recite the formula for the vows, Jesus appeared suddenly at my side clad in a white garment with a golden girdle around His waist, and He said to me. I give you eternal love that your purity may be untarnished and as a sign that you will never be subjected to temptation against purity. Jesus took off His golden cinture and tied it around my waist.
Bible Note for MAT 5:1
Only one “whose heart is clean” can take part in the temple worship. To be with God in the temple is described in Psalm 42:3 as “beholding his face”, but here the promise to the clean of heart is that they will see God not in the temple but in the coming kingdom.