Tuesday 21 November 2023

Beautiful Eucharist - Edited by Matthew Kelly

Beautiful Eucharist
Matthew Kelly
Wellspring Publishing 
Dynamic Catholic
ISBN 9781635825176
eISBN 9781635825183

This is the third volume in the Beautiful … Series edited by Matthew Kelly. The other two lined up with years of specific devotion in the Catholic Church. They were:

This was the smallest of the three and yet it has some amazing material in it. I absolutely loved this book, and have plans to reread it, maybe once a month over the next year. I devoured it in days after picking up the eBook once it was available. Because of a dual form of dyslexia I prefer eBooks where I can change the font, and font and page colour to make reading easier. Even while I was reading it I was recommending it to several friends. Some of the contributors carry over from the other two books.

The description of this volume is:

“Nothing will transform your life quite like a personal encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist. When we encounter Jesus, he changes us in powerful and unexpected ways. He heals us, brings us peace and clarity, models how to relate with others, and teaches us the lessons we need to learn to navigate the everyday situations of our lives. In the Eucharist we meet with the same Jesus who healed the blind, forgave sins, and rose from the dead. Are you ready to discover how he can transform your life too?”
The pieces in this volume are:

Introduction: Astonishing
1. Mass Was Boring . . . UNtil This Happened
2. Why Do You Do That?
3. Do You Know Where You’re Going?
4. What I Learned From A Muslim About The Eucharist
5. Come Away To A Quiet Place
6. Right Here, Right Now, No Other Place I’d Rather Be!
7. Your Most Urgent Need
8. The Eucharist: God’s Hiding & Our Seeking
9. The Ultimate Proof Of God’s Love
10. 30 Words That Revolutionized My Life
11. Why I Lied To My Pastor About First Communion
12. Why Didn’t Anyone Tell Me This?
Conclusion: Get Close And Stay Close

The contributors in order are:

Matthew Kelly
Jackie Francois Angel
Father Mike Schmitz
Lisa M. Hendey
Peter Kreeft
Jenna Greiwe
Bishop Andrew Cozzens
Fulton Sheen
Bobby Angel
Father Eric Boelscher
Allen Hunt
Sister Helena Burns, FSP
Matt Warner
Matthew Kelly

Some of these reflections were written specifically for this collection. Some are adapted from talks or articles by the contributors. But they are all excellent. After each piece are the following sections:

Point to Ponder
Verse to Live
About the contributor and sometimes where it came from. A sample reflection is:
What to Grow Spiritually (recomdations)

— Father Mike Schmitz —

I went to a college where everyone would gather around the altar during Mass. For the Eucharist, they had bread that was substantial, rather than the dried crispy wafer. When people distributed the Eucharist they would rip off pieces of the bread—the body—and hand them to you. The unfortunate thing was that after Mass, all around the altar on the ground were all these crumbs of the Eucharist.

I remember in my years of college, there was always this one guy. He was in my class and he was kind of a big man on campus. He was an athlete and everyone loved him. He was super funny. After everyone would leave Mass and we’d all be in the back of the church, this guy would be up around the altar on his hands and knees eating the crumbs of the Eucharist off the floor. I remember being in the back like, Dude that’s weird. You’re making a spectacle of yourself. But after a while I finally asked him, “Dude, why do you do that?”

He said when he was 15 years old, he heard a story:
When the Communists came into power in China, one of the things they wanted to do was suppress religion, especially Christianity. At one point they came to this village, took the priest, and locked him in the house next to the church. And then they went into the church and just destroyed the place. They turned over pews and they ripped the Bible.

The priest was sitting at the window, looking out of his rectory, watching helplessly as they destroyed the church.

At one point these soldiers took the tabernacle and they threw it out the window. It crashed through the window, hit the ground, and exploded open. The Eucharist fell out and scattered on the ground. Jesus’ body, this body that was given for him, was discarded on the ground.

Because the priest was under house arrest, all he could do was stand there and keep watch with Jesus. So, he stood there, with the Eucharist on the ground outside his window.

As night fell, he saw this figure getting closer and closer. Darting from shadow to shadow. And as it got closer, he recognized it was a 12-year-old girl from his parish. She had seen what the soldiers had done and she had seen the Eucharist on the ground. So she waited until night fell and she snuck to the Eucharist. She was taught as a kid not to touch the Eucharist with your hands, so she knelt down and bent her face to the ground. She picked up the Eucharist off the ground with her tongue, stood up, and made the Sign of the Cross. She was also taught you only receive Communion once, so she got up and then she snuck away into the night.

The priest knew exactly how many consecrated hosts of the body of Christ were there. Night after night this girl kept coming back. She’d sneak toward the abandoned hosts, kneel down, and receive the Eucharist off the ground, make the Sign of the Cross, get up and run away into the night—until the last night.
He knew it was the last time and he knew that after this she’d be safe. After this she wouldn’t have to keep coming back and risking her life.

That last night, he saw her approaching as he was praying. She came closer and closer, knelt down, and she received Jesus off the ground with her tongue, and made the Sign of the Cross. This beautiful ritual brought the priest to tears.
But, as the girl got up, she knocked something over and a noise echoed through the night. Her heart skipped a beat, and the priest’s heart was seized with fear for the girl’s safety.

Two soldiers rushed to where she was. They saw what she was doing and they beat the 12-year-old girl to death with the butts of their rifles.

After telling me the story, this guy looked at me and he said, “Why do I do this? That’s why. Because one drop of the precious blood of Jesus is enough to save the world. And one crumb of the body of Jesus is enough to save the world. So why do I eat the crumbs of Jesus off the ground? Because I cannot do otherwise. Because He gives His whole self to me. I cannot but give my whole self to Him.”

QUOTE: “This morning my soul is greater than the world since it possesses You, You whom heaven and earth do not contain.” Saint Margaret of Cortona

POINT TO PONDER: When was the last time you did something wholeheartedly? Jesus gives his whole self to you in the Eucharist. How would your life change if you gave your whole self to him?

VERSE TO LIVE: “I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:12-13

PRAYER: Lord, take the blindness from my eyes, the hardness from my heart, and draw me nearer to you than ever before. Amen.

FATHER MIKE SCHMITZ is the author of How to Make Great Decisions. He currently runs the Newman Center at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and is also the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the diocese. This reflection was adapted from Father Mike Schmitz’s talk at the SEEK2015 Conference.

How to Make Great Decisions by Father Mike Schmitz
Understanding the Mass: 100 Questions 100 Answers by Mike Aquilina”

I highline numerous passages my first time through this volume some of them are:

“The obvious one was after his arrest and crucifixion. Where were all the crowds that had followed him? Where were all those people who witnessed his miracles? Where were all the people he had cured and fed? Where were the crowds of people who cheered him into the city less than a week ago? Nowhere to be found.”

“The other time people fled from Jesus was when he spoke to them about the Eucharist. He said, “I am the bread of life... Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. ” (John 6:48,53) Immediately after this, we read in the Gospel: “When many of his disciples heard it, they said, ‘ This is a difficult teaching; who can accept it? ’ ” (John 6:60) And a few lines later we read, “After this, many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. ” (John 6: 66)”

“There are a lot of things I love about being Catholic, but at the top of the list is the Eucharist.”
 “I was asked once: What would have to happen for you to leave the Catholic Church? I thought about the question for a long time, I combed through the lowest moments in Catholic history, testing each to see if one of them would have been the breaking point that made me leave, But after thinking it through I decided I could never leave the Catholic Church, The reason is because I believe that Jesus is truly present — body, blood, soul, and divinity — in the Eucharist, Where else can I get the Eucharist? ”

 “When we go to Mass on Sunday the danger is in thinking that the music and the homily are the most important things.” 

“The moment when I receive the Eucharist is a pivotal moment in my week, It’s a moment of transformation, a moment when I get to receive who and what I wish to become.”
“This sets the Catholic Church apart: Jesus truly present in the Eucharist, The Eucharist is uniquely Catholic.”
“I can’t live without the Eucharist, More importantly, I don’t want to, And once you come to understand the power of the Eucharist, you won’t want to either, I was born Catholic and I will die Catholic, There are lots of reasons for that, but none more compelling than the Eucharist.”
“If the Holy Spirit can do that to bread and wine, imagine what he can do with you if you open yourself up to the experience of Communion.”
“Grace is the assistance God gives us to do what is good, true, noble, and right, And there is no better way to receive God’s grace than through the Eucharist.”
“The Eucharist is the ultimate superfood for the soul, loaded with grace to keep you spiritually healthy, give you the wisdom and strength to choose the right path, and fight off diseases like selfishness and other related vices and bad habits, and that is just a tiny fraction of the power the Eucharist holds.”
“The Catholic Church says it is called “Holy Communion, because by this sacrament we unite ourselves to Christ, who makes us sharers in His Body and Blood to form a single body ” (CCC 1331), How beautiful!”

“From the Poor Clares, I learned spiritual discipline and intentional generosity, From the Franciscans, I learned that God loved me unconditionally and that our Church needed my gifts and participation, even in my childhood, From Father Collins, I learned that Scripture was meant to be read, shared, and lived, Father taught us that Mass was a vibrant act of worship, and that the Eucharist was the True Presence of Jesus Christ, In my childhood brain, I assumed God had an Irish accent like the priest who loved Him with greater ferocity than any other love I knew, I’m still not convinced that God doesn’t sound just like that Irish priest who led thousands of families to know and love the Eucharist and one another.”
“Loving God and being loved by God is not a magic bullet that helps us avoid suffering or hardship in our lives, At times, my heart is so full of varying emotions after having received Communion that I am moved to silent tears.”
“The Eucharist is not a potion for power or a portal to the perfect life, It is, rather, a balm, a warm hug, an indescribable gift that compels us to, in turn, give to those around us, In receiving Jesus, especially in our brokenness and need, we are called to a generative love, We are God’s beloved in a world that is greatly in need of the very gifts Jesus Christ came to give, Through, with, and in Him, hope overflows.”
“Ironically, the Church has a presence these Protestants do not even claim to have: an objective and perfect real presence in the Eucharist, worthy of worship, not just a subjective and imperfect presence in souls, Christ is really, truly, objectively, fully present in the Eucharist, hidden under the appearances of bread and wine, as He was in the streets of Nazareth or on the Cross.”
““Just picture Jesus as if He’s sitting up there on the altar — because He is, He’s just talking to you and you’re talking to Him, What does He want to tell you? What do you want to say to Him?””

“POINT TO PONDER: We live in a busy and noisy world, but don’t blindly accept that your life has no choice but to be busy and noisy. Seek the rest that silence naturally brings to your heart, mind, body, and soul.”
“PRAYER: Lord, whenever I am filled with worry, desperate for hope, looking for clarity, or just need a moment of peace, remind me to visit you in the Eucharist, Draw me to that quiet place where I just know you will give me exactly what I need, Amen.”
“It’s important to understand the heart of our Catholic teaching, which is simple, even though it’s mysterious, And the simple truth is this: the substance of the bread and wine changes completely through the words of consecration, such that there’s no more bread and wine there, It appears like bread and wine, It has all the properties of bread and wine, but there’s no more bread and wine there, What is there? Jesus.”
“That is the very essence of the Eucharist, It is Christ himself, given up for you and me on the Cross, offered to us now and for eternity.”
“Whenever you see the Eucharist, you look upon the reality of Jesus ’ sacrifice on the Cross, The arms of that Cross stretch from the very beginning of time into eternity, they stretch from Heaven to earth, and let’s not forget they stretch into every meaningful relationship any one of us will ever have.”
“I love so many things about being Catholic, but what I love most is the privilege and joy of receiving Jesus in the Eucharist, But I also know how easy it is to take things for granted, We do that a lot in life, and as Catholics, we do that a lot with the extraordinary faith we have been gifted.”
“So here is my challenge for you and me, Let us never take for granted the extraordinary treasure of the Eucharist, Let us never become numb to the fact that Jesus wants to give Himself fully to you and me at every Mass, He really is there, waiting to transform our lives, That is the greatest treasure we could ever hope to have.”
“QUOTE: “Lay all your cares about the future trustingly in God’s hands, and let yourself be guided by the Lord just like a little child.” Saint Edith Stein”

“POINT TO PONDER: Next time you think that God has stopped speaking to you, consider the alternative reality that perhaps you have stopped listening to His voice in your life.”
“One thing that becomes abundantly clear when you start traveling is that the world is full of beautiful Catholic churches, Have you ever wondered why we build such beautiful churches? I can tell you this: It’s not about the art or the architecture. It’s because we believe that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist.”
“I am not sure we appreciate the power of God present among us in every tabernacle in every church, If this priest had been discovered that night, he would have been imprisoned and tortured, and the rest of the group would have been imprisoned and quite possibly executed, They knew this all too well, and it was a risk they were willing to take.” 

“Jesus awaits you in the Eucharist, Come into the silence and let Him change your life.” 

I hope those quotes and sample reflection give you a feel for this excellent volume. This is another book masterfully edited by Mathew Kelly. It is a volume that will transform lives. It will challenge readers. And help us appreciate and grow in our love for the Eucharist. This would be a great addition to any church, home, or school library. This is an excellent volume I can easily recommend. I challenge you to pick it up and read it.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2023 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Matthew Kelly:
I Know Jesus
The Long View
Decision Point: The Workbook
Decision Point: The Leader Guide
The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic
The One Thing
Off Balance: Getting Beyond the Work-Life Balance Myth to Personal and Professional Satisfaction
Why Am I Here?
Perfectly Yourself: 9 Lessons for Enduring Happiness
Perfectly Yourself Discovering God's Dream For You
Building Better Families: A Practical Guide to Raising Amazing Children
The Dream Manager
The Seven Levels of Intimacy: The Art of Loving and the Joy of Being Loved
The Rhythm of Life: Living Every Day with Passion and Purpose
Building Better Families - 5 Practical Ways to Build Family Spirituality
The Book of Courage
The Shepherd: A Modern Parable about Our Search for Happiness
Mustard Is Persecution, Matthew Kelly Foundation
A Call to Joy - Living in the Presence of God
The Rhythm of Life: An Antidote For Our Busy Age
Words from God
Resisting Happiness
The Narrow Path
Our Father
The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity
Why I Love Being Catholic
Good Night, Jesus
In a world where you can be anything ...

Beautiful ... Series:

Rediscover Books by Matthew Kelly:
Rediscover Catholicism: A Spiritual Guide to Living with Passion & Purpose
Rediscover Advent
Rediscover Lent
Rediscover Jesus: An Invitation
Rediscover the Rosary: The Modern Power of an Ancient Prayer
Rediscover the Saints

Audio by Matthew Kelly from Lighthouse Media:
Becoming The Best Version Of Yourself
The Best Way To Live
Don't Just Try, Train
Faith At Work & The Holy Moment
The Four Signs Of A Dynamic Catholic - Excerpt
The Jesus Question
My Spiritual Journey
Our Lives Change When Our Habits Change
Raising Amazing Children
The Seven Levels Of Intimacy
The Seven Pillars Of Catholic Spirituality

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