The Eucharist & Personal Prayer

By Dr Renu Rita Silvano, OCV, STD and Dr Fiorello Mascarenhas, SJ, D.Min.

Published by ST PAUL'S, Bandra; Rs 150/-; ISBN: 978-93- 92340-56-7

In this practically helpful book, Fr Fio and Dr Renu lucidly explain the basics of Christian discipleship with an artistic blend of mystery and simplicity. Sharing personally from their rich experiences of numerous Retreats preached and books authored, they show a masterful skill for simplifying profound Biblical truths. They also profitably draw inspiration from Pope Francis' Desiderio Desideravi, quoting lovely gems from it in this "prayer handbook."

I am impressed by the different themes this book addresses – The Eucharist, Lectio Divina, Intercession, Family Prayer, Acceptance of the Cross, etc. – while offering a variety of perspectives of the early Church Fathers, Doctors of the Church, various Popes, and the rich insights of the authors themselves. The Eucharist is given pride of place, in line with the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which tells us that "the Eucharist is the source and summit" of Christian life (CCC #1324).

The authors offer a veritable smorgasbord of invaluable nuggets – from Thomistic theology: the recipient gets spiritual nourishment from any sacrament in proportion to the faith and love with which one approaches and receives it. A mere routine or mechanical attendance (just "hearing" Mass) cannot bring real nourishment; or from Pope Francis' Desiderio Desideravi: No one had earned a place at that Supper. All had been invited. Or better said: all had been drawn there by the burning desire that Jesus had - to eat that Passover with them! He knows that he is the Lamb of that Passover meal; he knows that he is the Passover. Before our response to his invitation – well before – there is his desire for us. We may not even be aware of it, but every time we go to Mass, the first reason is that we are drawn there by his desire for us.

Of course, there is some straight talking too, as one would expect from seasoned Retreat givers: So if a Catholic Christian comes to receive the sacrament every Sunday, but has given no evidence of real love during the preceding week, the fruitfulness of the sacrament for him/her is minimal at most, even though ex opere operato (CCC 1128) the full power of the Crucified and Risen Lord was available in the consecrated bread and wine.

The authors treat the other themes in much the same fashion – be it The Virtue of Trust, Keeping the Faith, or other aspects of Christian Prayer. They provide rich insights from several Church Fathers, but above all, from Christ Himself – from the Word of God made flesh. The Scriptural scholarship of the authors shines forth in each chapter, almost as if what they want to leave us with after each page is a personal longing for the Word of God! They themselves write: It is our ardent hope that many lay people (clergy and religious too) will discover for themselves the power and fruitfulness of both the Eucharist and of Scripture, will come to relish both, and to use the word of God in a regular way in their daily prayer.

Royston Braganza