Friday, February 26, 2010

First Lenten Read

The first book in my list of Lenten reading was 7 Secrets of the Eucharist by Vinny Flynn. This little, easy-to-read book was a great way to start off my Lenten experience this year! Let me say right up front, I highly recommend this book. If you haven't read it, you should.

This book is full of wonderful insights, incredible quotes from Scripture, the Saints, and the Catechism, as well as a beautifully simple way of describing deep theological issues. I found myself underlining, starring, and even circling all sorts of interesting phrases, sentences ... heck, I'll admit it, even whole paragraphs! I couldn't help but to take some extensive notes on the occasional empty page between chapters.

In this little book, Mr. Flynn aims to present the Eucharist in a very real way. He wants to share with his readers insights into the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist that may be new to you or may be presented in a way you've never thought of before. Even though he calls these "Secrets" he admits right from the start that there is nothing secret about any of this. Even so, some of these secrets may seem like new information. He also says that there are not just seven of these. He could easily continue writing more and more about the Eucharist. Maybe we'll see more books on this topic from Mr. Flynn? I for one, would be delighted to read more.

Since the secrets discussed in this book are not actually secrets, here they are as a taste of what you will find discussed in this little tome: the Eucharist is alive; Christ is not alone; there is only one Mass; not just one miracle; we don't just receive; every reception is different; and there's no limit.

Lots to think about there. The Eucharist is alive? Well, okay, that may be an easy one but the insights here are great! Christ not alone? Who is with him? Read and find out! Only one Mass? What does that mean? There are masses every day in churches all around the world, what does it mean that there is only one? Not just one miracle? Also an interesting thought to ponder. And it goes on and on. Does that peak your interest?? I hope so.

Each of the seven chapters takes each of the above listed "secrets" and explores their meaning more deeply. He pulls quotes from St. Faustina's Diary, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Maximilian Kolbe, and others to start each chapter. The style of writing is best described as friendly, which I found wonderful for a topic that could easily get bogged down in theological discourse. Yet he still manages to delve into theological matters without you even realizing it!

I drank in the information of this book. The hardest chapter for me was the seventh secret, there's no limit. This chapter is not about being able to receive the Eucharist as many times as you want in a day. We are blessed with the ability to receive every day if we choose, and I gathered from the discussion that there is a limit of being able to receive twice a day. But what he is really describing in this chapter is the ability to receive the Eucharist spiritually. The idea of a Spiritual Communion was a new one for me. It took me until near the end of the chapter before it started to click. I think this was evident by the lack of notes I was taking for the first half of that chapter.

What I especially liked about this seventh chapter was that it held a great little treasure in it that is perfect for Lent. As we struggle with certain temptations during this Lenten season we can turn to Christ in the Eucharist to gather strength and even if you are not physically able to receive Him or even physically in front of Him (such as at an Adoration Chapel) you can still make a Spiritual Communion. Want to understand this more?? I recommend reading the book.

I think this book makes excellent Lenten reading, but I would also recommend it for any other time as well. In particular, if you know someone who will be entering the church this Easter and will receive Christ in the Eucharist for the first time during the Easter Vigil Mass, I encourage you to give him or her a copy of this book to read before they take that step. It will open their hearts and minds even more to the great mysteries and blessings of the Eucharist and will make their hunger for that union with Christ which can only be experienced in the Eucharist even more intense. I can't think of a better gift than that!

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