OUR DAILY BREAD: Glimpsing the
Eucharist Through the Centuries, by
Ralph Wright, O.S.B. Paulist Press.
160 pp. $16.95.
Reviewed by SISTER JUDITH MESCHER,
O.S.C., a Poor Clare nun for over 25 years
and now part of Franciscan Monastery of
St. Clare in Cincinnati, Ohio.
FOR 2,000 YEARS we have had the gift
of the Eucharist as the presence of Jesus
Christ in our lives. Ralph Wright gives
us a history of that presence through
the centuries by recalling the writings
of the Church.
Writers through the centuries (this
book is arranged chronologically) show
the growth of faith and understanding
of the Eucharist as a real
and tangible presence of
Jesus in our lives. It becomes
clear that this belief
in the presence of Jesus in
the Eucharist is the same
for Paul, Justin, Ambrose,
Gregory, Francis, Teresa and
John Paul II.
In today’s world, our culture
teaches us to believe
only what we can see and
touch and understand.
Ralph Wright is recalling us
to faith in the very life and presence of
Jesus in the Eucharist. For Jesus is our
healer through his very Body and Blood
or, as St. Ambrose said, “the very medicine
that makes us holy.”
St. Symeon (sometimes called the
New Theologian, although he lived
1,000 years ago) agrees: “Communion
with his Body and Blood gives us life
and restores us to holiness and sinlessness—it gives us true freedom.”
St. Thomas Aquinas captures the
whole of this book beautifully: “Now in
order that we might always keep the
memory of this great act of love, he
left his body as food and his blood as
drink, to be received by the faithful
under the appearances of bread and
Pope Benedict XVI brings the presence
of the Eucharist into our own
needy and troubled world: “The process
of transformation must not stop at the
bread and wine. The Body and Blood of
Christ are given to us so that we ourselves
will be transformed in our turn.
We are to become the Body of Christ,
his own Flesh and Blood.”
Ralph Wright’s flowing poetry and
hymns at the beginning of each century
add a different dimension to the
writings. The words may help us to
grow in faith and understanding of the
Eucharist in our lives and to see in new
ways the presence of Jesus as life-giving.
There is much food for thought and
contemplation in his writings.
Being a Poor Clare, I have
a life centered in the Eucharist
and this is so for
Ralph Wright, a Benedictine.
His book expresses that
great centeredness through
the centuries up to this present
day and continues to
teach people new aspects of
the Eucharist in their lives.
As we grow in appreciation
of the great sacrifice
that Jesus gave by being present in the
Eucharist, we become that Eucharist
itself and are called to go out to share
with others the very Body and Blood of
Jesus Christ. Pope John Paul II said,
“As we draw life from the Eucharist,
may we give that very life to others.”
You can order OUR DAILY BREAD: Glimpsing the
Eucharist Through the Centuries from St. Francis Bookshop.
JESUS SPEAKS TO ME ON MY FIRST
HOLY COMMUNION, by Angela M.
Burrin, illustrated by Maria Cristina
Lo Cascio. The Word Among Us Press.
46 pp. $12.95.
Reviewed by MARY JO DANGEL, assistant
managing editor of this publication.
I WISH THIS BOOK had been available
on the many occasions I’ve searched for
First Communion gifts. Angela M.
Burrin’s short Bible stories, from creation
to Pentecost, are told by Jesus.
Many of these stories involve food:
Adam and Eve forbidden to eat fruit
from a specific tree, Moses and the
Passover meal, Jesus feeding 5,000 people
and Jesus giving his body and blood
to his disciples at the Last Supper—the
Although this book will be given to
many second-graders, I doubt that
many of them will have developed the
skills to read it until they are a little
older. That’s where the giver comes in:
reading the story to the First Communicant
and listening to the child’s reaction.
As a grandma who wears trifocals,
I liked the large print.
The book also includes prayers that
should be familiar to children making
their First Communion, including the
Sign of the Cross, the Our Father, the
Hail Mary and the Act of Contrition.
The cover illustration by Maria
Cristina Lo Cascio also appears with
the story of Jesus blessing children.
This Jesus is portrayed as a huggable
teacher who always has time to spend
Making the book inviting to return
to over and over is the inclusion of
blank pages for the child to insert photos
and programs from the special day,
record the date and other pertinent information, list the people
who came and write special
memories of the big event.
My granddaughter, Sarah,
who is now a third-grader,
says she could read the book
now but doesn’t think she
could have at the time of her
First Communion. But older
children will be inclined to
read some of the stories
whenever they are looking
back at the photos and other
memories of this most important day
in their lives.
You can order JESUS SPEAKS TO ME ON MY FIRST
HOLY COMMUNION from St.
WHAT EVERY CATHOLIC NEEDS TO
KNOW ABOUT THE EUCHARIST: A
Guide for the Liturgical Assembly, by Michael Kwatera, O.S.B. Resource
Publications. 56 pp. $9.95.
Reviewed by PAT McCLOSKEY, O.F.M.,
editor of this publication and a priest for
THIS SHORT BOOK from the director of
Benedictine oblates and director of
liturgy at St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville,
Minnesota, explains the flow
of the Mass, often making its points
through quotes from prayers used at
The book is really a single chapter.
Father Kwatera’s text has 20 subheads,
a page of endnotes and a two-page bibliography.
Early on, he writes: “Human life
really is one great passover from life to
death to eternal life, but there are many
mini-passovers in our lives: from sickness
to health, brokenness to wholeness,
hatred to love, disunity to unity,
guilt to forgiveness. The Lord Jesus has
given us a special passover moment to
strengthen us in our mini-passovers:
the Eucharist. The many passovers of
human life come together most visibly
in our celebration of the Eucharist.”
Father Kwatera continues: “The ultimate
eucharistic response of the assembly
is to go out as disciples of the Lord
Jesus, renewed and refreshed and recommitted
to living and being his
Body, his presence, in the world.”
Toward the end of the book, Father
Kwatera explains: “It is
true that the riches of
the Eucharist are limitless;
Christ’s infinite love for us
insures that. Yet as with any
meal, we can take away from
the eucharistic banquet only
as much as we are prepared
to receive. A grateful heart
increases our capacity for
God’s love. May the Holy
Spirit give us a healthy
appetite for the Lord’s life-giving
This book, which also includes a
short section on eucharistic adoration
outside Mass, can meet the needs of
people in the RCIA, lectors, extraordinary
ministers of the Eucharist, parish
liturgy committee members and all
who seek to allow God’s grace in this
sacrament to shape their lives.
You can order WHAT EVERY CATHOLIC NEEDS TO
KNOW ABOUT THE EUCHARIST: A
Guide for the Liturgical Assembly from St.
SACRED THEN AND SACRED NOW:
The Return of the Old Latin Mass, by Thomas E. Woods, Jr. Roman
Catholic Books. 120 pp. $15.95.
Reviewed by NORM LANGENBRUNNER,
a diocesan priest ordained in 1970 and
pastor of St. Bernard of Clairvaux Church,
ON JULY 7, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI
issued, on his own authority, a papal
ordinance permitting use of the 1962
Roman Missal as the “extraordinary
form” for celebrating Mass. His motu
proprio also made possible a return to
the pre-Vatican II rituals for Baptism,
Marriage, Penance and Anointing of
Sacred Then and Sacred Now is a
defense for restoring the Tridentine
Mass. The author celebrates the pope’s
decision as a liberation of the liturgy of
the pre-Vatican II Church and describes
the so-called Latin Mass as “a great treasure
that deserved its rightful place in
Author Thomas Woods reviews Pope Benedict’s reasons for restoring the old
Mass (the 1962 Mass was never legally
abolished; there is no contradiction
between the two
missals; restoration of the
old Missal may lead to reconciliation
with those who
have rejected the new
Missal) and supports the
papal decision by questioning
whether a pope (in this
case, Pope Paul VI) had the
authority to change the rite
in the first place.
Woods quotes the former
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
(now Pope Benedict XVI): “The pope’s
authority is bound to the Tradition of
faith, and that also applies to the
Woods bolsters his defense of the
restoration by stating that the new
Mass led to abuses and problems, that
the very presence of female altar servers
is “objectively a kind of spiritual
immodesty,” and that priests alone
should distribute Holy Communion
because, although priests have a normal
human need for exclusive relationship
with another, “the priest finds it in his
exclusive custodianship of the
Catholics who want to justify or
defend the restoration of the Tridentine
Mass will find their arguments in
Woods’s book. Catholics who reject the
idea of going back to the old way will
be appalled by and recoil at the same
Neither Pope Benedict in his motu
proprio nor Woods in his book addresses
the basic norms which the bishops at
Vatican II voted to accept in the Constitution
on the Sacred Liturgy: 1) the
rites should be distinguished by a noble
simplicity [#34]; 2) they should be
short, clear and free from useless repetitions
[#34]; 3) parts which suffered
loss through accidents of history are
to be restored [#50]; 4) the treasures of
the Bible are to be opened up more
lavishly [#51]; 5) the “common prayer”
or “prayer of the faithful” is to be
Pope Benedict had been warned that
his decision to promote the old Mass,
even if he called it “the extraordinary
form,” would detract from the authority
of the Second Vatican Council and
would lead to greater disarray
or divisions in parishes.
In his letter to bishops, the
pope said he believed both
fears were unfounded. The
very publication of Woods’s
book underscores that both
fears were not unfounded.
It is possible that the publication
of Pope Benedict’s
Summorum Pontificum and
the decision to promote the
Tridentine Mass may be the
most remembered act of his
pontificate. It is more than possible
that Thomas Woods’s publication of
Sacred Then and Sacred Now will be
among the least memorable events of
his publishing career.
You can order SACRED THEN AND SACRED NOW:
The Return of the Old Latin Mass from St. Francis Bookshop.
THE LITTLE LOST LAMB, written
and illustrated by Geri Berger Haines.
Pauline Books & Media. 39 pp. $8.95.
Reviewed by CHRISTOPHER HEFFRON,
an assistant editor and the poetry editor of
St. Anthony Messenger.
WHEN I WAS very young, I was lured
away from my dad by the bright, shining
lights and loud, interesting noises
of the toys in a department store. He
turned his back to me for only a second
and I was off.
For a few moments, I felt exhilarated,
free. One too many unfriendly
and unfamiliar faces, however, convinced
me that I was too young for
such independence. Luckily, within
minutes, I found my dad.
I learned a valuable lesson that day.
The world can be a
terrifying place, full
of terrifying faces.
When you’re smaller
around you, everybody
seems a potential
might not always be
fun, but it’s always
That lesson was
also shared by the
title character in The Little Lost Lamb,
written and illustrated by Geri Berger
Befitting a children’s book, the
premise is rather simple: A restless lamb
thirsts for adventure and leaves the
safety of the flock (and a kind shepherd
who bears a striking resemblance to
Jesus) for the big world. At first, the
lamb is captivated by the sights, sounds
and smells around him. But a leg injury
and run-ins with a few hungry, unpleasant
animals force the lamb to regret
deviating from what is safe and comfortable.
Since children’s books rarely end in
carnage, I’m giving nothing away when
I say that the lamb doesn’t become a
meal for some vicious carnivore. The
shepherd finds his lost sheep and brings
him back to the flock, wounded but
Geri Berger Haines presents the timeless
parable of the sheep and shepherd
in an engaging and appealing manner.
Parents can use this sweet tale as a lesson
to those who have a need to wander
too far in both their geographical
and spiritual lives. God finds us no
matter how far we tend to stray. Thanks
to this author and illustrator, forgiveness
and redemption have never looked
quite so cute.
While the tribulations of the injured
lamb can prove just a trifle cloying for
adult readers, Catholics of the toddler
demographic should remain steadfastly
engrossed in the plight of this naïve but
You can orderTHE LITTLE LOST LAMB from St. Francis Bookshop.
MARRIAGE: The Dream That Refuses to Die, by Elizabeth Fox-Genovese.
ISI Books. 191 pp. $25.
Reviewed by SHARON TOMKO
GREENBERG, an editorial assistant
at St. Anthony Messenger.
ALTHOUGH THE BOOK is titled
Marriage: The Dream That Refuses
to Die, this is not a book of
dreams and romance. Instead,
with the skills of an educator
and the passion of a reformer,
Elizabeth (Betsy) Fox-Genovese
traces a history of the human desire to be loved as well as
valued members of society.
While celebrating the literary
images of longing and
exaltation between individuals,
she notes the practice
of arranged marriages. Even
among the ancient civilizations,
there was a struggle
between two competing
agendas: immediate personal
satisfaction and the
long-term demands upon
the individual for a family’s survival
and improved quality of life.
Fox-Genovese directs the reader to
appreciate our American ideals, life and
law. Her source material for the book
comes from three lectures given at
Princeton University when she was
their distinguished visiting scholar in
The book, with its citations and references,
may be enjoyed by scholars
but it created a bit of a reader’s bog for
me. Yet, having points that are verifiable
Fox-Genovese exposes the intent of
those who would abuse one of our
nation’s most treasured resources, our
freedom of speech. Clearly dismayed,
she challenges us to note the "parallels
between the movements for abortion
and same-sex marriage and [hear] their
clever use of rhetoric [seeking] to obscure
their shared goal of reducing or erasing
communal claims upon the individual.”
Behind the appealing rhetoric of same-sex
marriage proponents and pro-abortion
proponents lies a frightening
new world in which all relations are
“contracts of realization of desire.”
Such a theoretical unpinning renders
human relations by
definition “temporary and
volitional,” and beyond the
accountability that preserves
both our integrity
and our species. Such legal
and political agendas serve,
ultimately, “to liberate the
individual from all binding
Fox-Genovese has given
voice to my own misgivings
as I hear legislators
speak of expedient needs and necessary
funds to control our cities’ population
or temporary marital contracts to
serve the public good.
You can order MARRIAGE: The Dream That Refuses to Die from St. Francis Bookshop.