Real People, Real Presence: Ordinary Catholics on the Extraordinary Power of the Eucharist
presented by Cardinal William H. Keeler
The Word Among Us, 2005
176 pages, $10.95
To order: (800) 775-9673
As the Holy Spirit inspired Pope John Paul II to dedicate an entire year to the Eucharist, so Cardinal William Keeler was inspired to invite the people of his archdiocese, Baltimore, to submit personal testimonies about their love of Jesus in the Eucharist. The fruit of this inspiration has been captured in this eclectic, intimate and frequently profound collection of testimonies.
What else could it be? We are invited to glimpse into the lives of 55 ordinary Catholics whose lives have been touched, altered or healed in some way by the presence of the Almighty under the appearance of plain bread. Grouped by thematic similarity in sections such as “Transformation,” “Strength for the Journey” and “Presence,” these testimonies introduce us to a diverse array of individuals — converts, cradle Catholics, “prodigals” — who share in common a life-changing love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
Here’s Linda, who received a beautiful sign regarding the eternal whereabouts of her late parents. There’s Marianne, who drew closer to Christ when he touched her life in a unique way. And meet Steven; he started going to daily Mass 12 Lents ago and hasn’t been the same since.
How often have we noticed a person at Mass or in Eucharistic adoration and wondered, “Who is that person? What brings them here? What is their story?” To read Cardinal Keeler’s book is to sit in private conversation with one after the other of your brothers and sisters in the faith — and to be witnessed to by them.
“Although I have been Catholic all my life, my love for the Eucharist wasn’t born until my 30s and 40s — long after my first holy Communion,” writes Greg. “In the words of St. Augustine, ‘Too late have I loved thee.’ Not too late as in fatal or final, fortunately. But too late in a sorrowful, regrettable, penitential sense. For to love the Eucharist is to love God, and to love God is to believe in God, and to believe in God is to hope in God. But I did not always hope in God.”
If there is one drawback to the book, it is that several of the testimonies are extremely short. This is a relatively minor criticism, however, since the overall effect of the book is to show how Christ calls each and every one of us — no matter our state or station in life — to a closer union with him. On that score, it succeeds.
In addition to the testimonies, a chapter is included inviting us to write and develop our own personal witness, thus continuing to extend the legacy of the Year of the Eucharist in our own life and in the lives of those around us. Plus there’s a lovely foreword by Franciscan Father Benedict Groeschel.
In Mane Nobiscum Domine, the apostolic letter declaring the Year of the Eucharist, Pope John Paul II challenged pastors to “awaken an ever greater love for the mystery of the Eucharist in your dioceses.” Thanks are owed to Cardinal Keeler for taking him up on the invitation in such a singular and powerful way — one that should fit neatly in many a Christmas stocking.
Doran Oancia writes from
- January 1-7, 2006