Monday, September 16, 2013

The Most Holy Eucharist (Sophia Institute Press)

Today at Stuart's Study, I'm writing a long overdue review of the book, The Most Holy Eucharist. It's been off and on my shelf for at least three months, and other commitments have kept me from it. That's not a good excuse, I know. However, since I work with so many publishers, I try to spread out the reviews and only review one book per publisher per month. Sometimes, that's not feasible or possible, but it's the only fair solution I have come up with. That's enough blog background, though. Let's review this book!

The Most Holy Eucharist is a near 300 page tome aimed at increasing the readers' love of both the Mass and the Eucharist. Though this book can be read like a textbook, it is not Fr. McGovern's desire that you do so. You will also not glean as much beauty from the book that way either. Apart from the expected topics of Adoration and the Real Presence, the author also includes chapters on Eucharistic teachings from our two previous Holy Fathers, John Paul II and Benedict XVI. In these two chapters, it is very clear how central the Eucharist was to each of their lives. In fact, Pope John Paul II's first encyclical stated that, "The Church lives by the Eucharist."

Also of interest in this book is the mission of priesthood in Chapter 4. Though this is the shortest chapter in the book, it contains a powerful message to both the clergy and the laity. The chapter starts by talking about the priesthood of Jesus, and then it shifts to ministerial priesthood. It explains how the Eucharist is central to a priest's life and how their main mission is to bring the Eucharist to the people. The chapter then quickly shifts to discussing the priesthood of the laity. This concept is either ignored or not understood by many in the Church, but it states that we too have a part in Christ's redemptive mission. We must attend Mass reverently and participate fully. By doing so, we can offer our work and daily lives in reparation for the sins of the world.

After the chapter on priesthood, Chapter 6: "Devotion as Mass and Holy Communion" was the one which spoke to me the most. The chapter starts off by explaining why Sunday is holy and offering suggestions on ways to keep it holy. "John Paul II affirmed that Sunday should be arranged in such a way that it 'allows people to take part in the Eucharist, refraining from work and activities, which are incompatible with the sanctification of the Lord's Day, with its characteristic joy and necessary rest for spirit and body.'" I am guilty of not always resting on Sundays like I should, and I hope to improve that area in my life. This chapter also points out that the Eucharistic Celebration doesn't end when Mass is over. We are called to evangelize the world like the Apostles did.

This was a profound book, which deepened both my love and understanding of the Eucharist. It is a book that I hope to visit again in more detail in the future and one that clergy and laity alike should read. If you are looking for a comprehensive reading on the Eucharist, this Fr. McGovern delivers. I only regret that I let it sit on my shelf this long and didn't read it sooner. Don't make the same mistake I did by letting the length of this book intimidate you, pick up a copy and dive in immediately. You won't regret it!

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