This little book is a collection of catechetical talks that Cardinal Schönborn of Vienna gave to his congregation at St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna. The book covers three main themes. First is the celebration of Mass itself and the Jewish roots of the liturgy. How did Jesus celebrate the last supper and what did he mean by the words, "This is my Body, and This is my Blood?" The second theme is looking at the Mystery of the Eucharist and what is meant by words such as memorial, sacrifice, consecration, and presence. Lastly, the book explores how we enter into the Eucharist by looking at reception of communion, Eucharistic fellowship and who can receive Eucharist.
This is a book to be read slowly, one chapter at a time, as if you are receiving the talks. You would not expect to go to one talk after another or sit through ten talks in a row. Similarly, I would recommend reading this one chapter at a time and allowing yourself time to reflect on the content and the ideas presented. I could very easily see this book as a resource at adoration: to read a chapter (or a section of a chapter) and just sit with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and to discuss the content with Jesus in prayer.
This is also a wonderful book for catechists to learn for themselves about the Eucharist and how to enter more fully into communion, but also as an example of how to catechize others by the example that Cardinal Schönborn gives. Although the content of the book is highly theological and teaches in depth about the meaning of the mystery of the Eucharist, it does so in the context of storytelling and by reflecting on normal experiences. You do not need a theology degree or a theological dictionary to read and enjoy this book.
If you have ever taken Eucharist for granted, this book is also for you. The last few chapters of the book focuses on the practical aspects of preparing for Mass and Communion. How often have do we go to Communion on autopilot? How does knowing that I am going to receive communion tomorrow change how I live today? It also answers such difficult questions as why the Eucharist is not open to everyone, and why our Eucharistic Fellowship has boundaries.
If you have questions about the Eucharist or simply want to seek a deeper understanding of this most marvelous Sacrament, I highly recommend The source of Life: Exploring the Mystery of the Eucharist by Christoff Cardinal Schönborn
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