Wednesday 21 February 2018

The Fourth Cup: Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper and Christ's Crucifixion - Scott Hahn

The Fourth Cup:
Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper and Christ's Crucifixion
Scott Hahn
Image Books
IBSN 9781524758790
eISBN 9781524758806

Over the last 25 years I have read about a dozen books by Scott Hahn, and each and every one of them I found helped my spiritual life. They have helped my understanding or God, Mary, the Church, or a specific theological point. But of all his books I have read this is one of my favourites. In fact it was so good it inspired me to add a couple of his others I have not got around to reading back towards the top of my to be read list. The description of this book is:

"Well-known Catholic theologian Dr. Scott Hahn explains Christ's Paschal sacrifice on the cross as the fulfillment of the traditional fourth cup used in the celebration of Passover, drawing symbolic parallels to the Last Supper and Christ's death on Calvary. Through his scholarly insights and important biblical connections, Mass will come alive for you as never before!"
And does it ever live up to that promise. I found that while I was reading this book I did not want to put it down. I have noticed a marked difference in my participation at mass in the few weeks since I have read this book. I read a good number of books, and of those many are excellent. But this book moved me in a way that is hard to describe. It was a very moving work; it stirred my spirit and my desire to draw closer to God through the mass.  The chapters in this book are:

What Is Finished?
Passover and Covenant
A Typical Sacrifice
Rite Turns
The Paschal Shape of the Gospels
Behold the Lamb
The Lamb from the Beginning
Unleavened Bread
The Cups
The Hour
The Chalices and the Church
The Paschal Shape of the Liturgy
The Christian Passover
The Paschal Shape of Life
Works Consulted

The way that Hahn ties the Passover, the last supper and the Eucharist together in a study of the Jewish practices of the time will open the reader's eyes. Now much of the material in this book has appeared before. Hahn states that:

"In 1989 at Marytown in Chicago I first gave a talk titled "The Fourth Cup." It was about some of the studies that had led to my conversion to Catholicism just three years before. I was, at the time, an assistant professor of religious studies at the College of St. Francis in Joliet, Illinois. I wasn't earning much. I had no tenure or publications. But I was a happy man because I was Catholic, and I wanted to tell the world. Now I had an opportunity."
He goes on to say that he has given this talk, and talked about the Fourth Cup many times over the years, but he always gives slightly different versions of the talk. And that this book is the culmination of telling this story over the last 29 years since Hahn became Catholic, and his processing of this information for the over the 7 years before that as he made his way from being a pastor and academic who was being convinced by this specific study of the validity of the Catholic faith.

It all began with an Easter Sunday sermon, and a professor and mentor paused after stating "It is finished" but did not come back to it. It began the quest for Hahn to determine what was finished. Scott was upset by this question and challenged by the pastor to answer it. And ultimately this book is that answer. And it is a question and answer that is one of the foundations of Catholic belief. At nearly the end of the book Hahn says:

"This entire book is the story of my conversion. I wish I could say my conversion to Jesus was complete when I first encountered him, but that would be untrue. Conversion is never a one-time event. It's ongoing and ever-deepening. It was for Saint Peter. It was for Saint Paul."
And his search for answers will inspire us and draw us deeper into the mass, and deepen our relationship with God. An incredible read! Thank you.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Scott Hahn:
A Father Who Keeps His Promises
A Pocket Guide to Saint Paul
A Pocket Guide to the Bible
Angels and Saints: A Biblical Friendship with God's Holy Ones
Answering the New Atheism: Dismantling Dawkins's Case Against God
Catholic for a Reason
Consuming the Word: The New Testament and The Eucharist in the Early Church
Covenant and Communion
Evangelizing Catholics: A Mission Manual for the New Evangelization
First Comes Love: Finding Your Family in the Church and the Trinity
Hail, Holy Queen: The Mother of God in the Word of God
Holy Is His Name
Hope for Hard Times
Joy to the World: How Christ's Coming Changed Everything and Still Does
Kinship by Covenant: A Canonical Approach to the Fulfillment of God's Saving Promises
Letter and Spirit : From Written Text to Living Word in the Liturgy
Living the Mysteries - A Guide for Unfinished Christians
Lord Have Mercy: The Healing Power of Confession
Many Are Called: Rediscovering the Glory of the Priesthood
Ordinary Work, Extraordinary Grace
Politicizing the Bible: The Roots of Historical Criticism and the Secularization of Scripture 1300-1700
Reasons to Believe: How to Understand, Explain, and Defend the Catholic Faith
Rome Sweet Home
Scripture Matters
Signs of Life: 40 Catholic Customs and Their Biblical Roots
Swear to God : The Promise and Power of the Sacraments
The Creed: Professing the Faith Through the Ages
The Fourth Cup
The First Society

The Kingdom of God As Liturgical Empire
The Lamb's Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth
Understanding "Our Father"

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