Have Yourself a Eucharistic Easter
201 Inspirational Stories of the Eucharist
Edited by Sister Patricia Proctor, OSC
Franciscan Monastery of Saint Clare, 2004
416 pages, $14.95
To order: (800) 488-0488
Growing up, I recall being told by my pastor that, even if I couldn’t sing well, I should never hold back from “making a joyful noise to the Lord.” Although offered with a smile, this advice conveyed an important truth: God desires foremost our love and sacrificial effort, not technical perfection.
That same truth informs this hefty collection of stories, anecdotes, reflections and exclamations of joy, all focused on the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist. At the opening, readers are told to “remember that you are reading stories. You are not reading a theological treatise. The holy Eucharist is a sacrament, a mystery. We can talk about the Eucharist in theological terms, abstract terms, or we can share our experiences of the Eucharist in very personal terms.”
And, indeed, this is not an apologetic or a work of systematic theology. It’s a collection of love letters, written from the hearts of men and women who have been transformed by their encounter with the Eucharistic Christ.
This compilation was the work of Poor Clare Sister Patricia Proctor, so it’s not surprising that many of the stories were contributed by Poor Clares. Also sharing stories are priests, other religious and laity. Some are converts, others are cradle Catholics.
Several themes emerge: the solace of Eucharistic adoration, the joyous recognition of the Savior in the midst of trials, the healing of soul and body in receiving holy Communion, conversion to the Catholic Church because of the persistent call of the Blessed Sacrament, the wonder of participating in intimate communion with Jesus and his Mystical Body.
Among the most moving stories is that of a young girl who grew up as a fundamentalist Protestant in New York State. While in school, she became friends with another girl, Christina, who was Catholic. Eventually she went with Christina to Mass — at a convent. “I began to cry,” she recalls, “and cried through the entire Mass even though I didn’t know what was going on, or why or when everyone stood or knelt or sat. I was home. I felt like someone very lost who had finally found home.” She is now a nun, Poor Clare of St. Colette Sister Maria Christina LaDieu, her life radically changed by her encounter with Christ in the Eucharist.
Fittingly, the book was not only published during the Year of the Eucharist, but it’s also dedicated to Pope John Paul II. And the appendices include the full text of the Holy Father’s encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, which should be required reading during this special year. Short quotes from the encyclical are also interspersed throughout the book.
Also included are 50 pages of Communion prayers, including prayers for each day of the week and prayers for a novena. And, although the stories might not be theological treatises, the book contains four essays that are theological in nature. These address various points of doctrine — the Real Presence, the nature of the sacrament, the biblical basis for belief in the Eucharist.
This compilation makes for a remarkable reminder to never take for granted the sublime gift and supernatural graces of the Eucharist. It is a stirring call to seek an Easter relationship with Jesus throughout the year and throughout our lives.
Carl E. Olson is editor of
- March 27-April 2, 2005