Our Splendid Eucharist  
Book Reviews

Our Splendid Eucharist
by Raymond Maloney, S.J.

Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight. PhD

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Our Splendid Eucharist by Raymond Maloney provides some wonderful reflections on Mass and Eucharist. He divides his book into 3 parts: celebrating the Eucharist, understanding the Eucharist, and part 3 living the Eucharist. It seems that all Jesuits begin their books with the purpose of the book and this one is no exception. “The purpose of this book is to gather together into one place and to put into as simple a language as possible something of the riches of our tradition on the Eucharist, while keeping an eye on some new things people are saying today.” The first reflection in this book, covers some of the prayers that people would recite on their way to Mass, getting ready for the mystery of our faith. Fr. Maloney explains each part of the Mass in the meaningful way that leads up to the three movements: an act of praise and thanksgiving in union with all who are part of the body of Christ along with the angels and saints.  In the second movement it consists of the Lord’s own words in regard to His sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ.  The third movement is of petition and intercession with the final expression of praise and thanksgiving in the words: Through Him, With Him and In Him. This is the great act of worship that the Church does on our behalf.  Personally, I have always been struck by the importance of the cup of blood. The author reports: “The cup then, can be received as the special gift of Christ’s hear, the sign of that special love, which he showed us on the cross, not least because of the blood flowing from his open side”.  We then take the graces of the Mass and the Eucharist to the world in which we live to share the importance of Christ’s discipleship with all with whom we meet during the day.  The Mass expands to the Universal Church in a way that nourishes and fortifies all.

In the second section called Understanding the Eucharist, the author provides us with a reflection on living the mystery. When I googled ‘the mystery of the Eucharist’ there were 446,000 results.  Most of the results spoke about the beauty and importance of the Eucharist in our faith life. The issue is that we are dealing with things of God. The mystery of the Eucharist is one of the attractions.  We see prayer, bread and wine as the significant issues. “The Mass is one of the ways we get into touch with those deeper realities within us.”  One of the mysteries of Eucharist is the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. “The mystery of the Eucharist –sacrifice, presence, banquet –does not allow for reduction or exploitation, it must be experienced and loved in its integrity, both in its celebration and in the intimate converse with Jesus which takes place after receiving communion or in a prayerful moment of Eucharistic adoration apart from Mass.” (St. John Paul II)

The author continues in this section to pour over the understanding of the Eucharist both personal and communal. The understanding of the beauty of the Eucharist is stated in the section on the domestic church which prepares us for our local community and then onto the Universal Church and the need for service as a result of partaking in the Eucharist seriously and thoroughly. Eucharist helps us to relate with others in a merciful and compassionate way. We bring to others something more than ourselves as a result of receiving the Eucharist.

In the last section, the author reflects on ways to live the Eucharist.  When one partakes of the Eucharist daily, one becomes drawn to the abundance of graces given to us through the Eucharist and longs for that continuation. The Eucharist becomes our way of life. Christ speaks through us, with us and in us. “What we experience in our daily lives is what we bring to the Eucharist, there to express it, celebrate it and deepen it by plunging it into the great mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection made present again in the Mass.”  The reflections that follow help us to understand the lived experience of the Eucharist as the way to transform our world. 

The author continues to include his readers in his understanding of all aspects of the Eucharist both in mystery and in service.  I would recommend the book as a way to make the Eucharist more intentional and meaningful in our lives.