Apparently, blogging is dead. I will miss Blogging for Books as it moves to other platforms, which I'm loath to join. In any case, I am grateful to Blogging for Books to have snagged a last book: a copy of Scott Hahn's The Fourth Cup: Unveiling the Mystery of the Last Supper and the Cross. He digs deep into our Jewish roots of the Passover and applies them to the Paschal Mystery. Our redemption has been thought of from the "very foundations of time." I raced through this book even though deadlines are pressing me from all sides. As always, Dr. Hahn makes history and Scripture accessible for the layman and does so in a highly entertaining manner. Here's a sampling of his sub-heads: Pasch, Presence, and Future; Sealed with a Curse; Seder Rite Words; The Roast is History; Ready, Willing, Abel; Cups and Downs; Faith Up to the FAQS; Marquette Value. He keeps this up, folks. But it's in no way shallow. There's a LOT of theology in this book and it's presented in the order that Dr. Hahn himself studied on his own, based on a little question: What exactly is finished when Jesus says those words from the Cross? Read this book to understand the most central belief of our faith: Christ our Passover has been sacrificed.
Dr. Hahn also shares his own history of his conversion. He practically re-invents Catholic rites in his Presbyterian Church the more he studied the Church Fathers. The Bread of Life discourse (John 6) frightened him; he could no longer continue to be a pastor; he couldn't accept the position of Academic Dean even though this was what he'd dreamed about. He writes, "I was not yet ready to take up the cup with Catholics. But I was more than ready to read the Bible with them."
Hahn became a doctoral student at Marquette. "There comes a time when a critic must turn his criticism upon himself." He consulted the Baltimore Catechism about the nature of Mass. "If Catholics were right about the meaning of Mass, mere attendance was a potentially seismic event in the spiritual order. Was I ready for that? If the Catholics were wrong, of course, then their Mass was the greatest blasphemy possible--and I wanted no part of that. In thinking about the Mass, there was no safe middle ground." When he went to his first Mass he wept. "I realized it was really Jesus, and he was offering his own flesh to me as "living bread come down from heaven.""
If you don't have time to read the book, do get the 1-hour lecture on this on Formed or from Lighthouse Media. You will not be disappointed.
ETA: a short article by Scott Hahn that explains the parallels between Passover and Easter.
I'm also enjoying Hahn's The First Society: the Sacrament of Matrimony and the Restoration of the Social Order. Again, he explains simply and clearly how if we get marriage right, society flourishes. He recalls a lecture in which a priest mused, "If Catholics would simply live the Sacrament of Matrimony for one generation, we would witness a transformation of society and have a Christian culture." Wow! It's both that easy and that difficult. It's a must read given how confused modern society is about marriage. Get your free copy from the St. Paul Center.
The Friday morning men's group is reading Flannery O'Connor so Michael is bringing lovely insights from Msgr. McInerney about the stories. I'm re-reading some of my favorites in light of them. One thing that struck us both is how we see ourselves in those stories. We are so aware of our sinful nature, yet where sin abounds, so does grace, and Flannery captures those moments so eloquently. By the way, if you are a writer, I highly recommend Mystery and Manners. It's a book I have to read periodically to get my head straightened out, given that I write for the educational market.
Great books are our best teachers. I am thankful for them. Happy Reading!!! Please share some of your besties. And have a very happy and holy week. God bless you.
NB: Paul, Apostle of Christ is a fantastic movie! It's about the early Christians in Rome and centers around the last days of St. Paul. Much of what we know about him comes from St. Luke and vice versa. It was so lovely to see their bond of love. And the filmmakers bring to life Priscilla and Aquilla from Acts, how the Christian community loves each other, how they are martyred. We had a chance to see it last week at the Citadel Mall and it's playing there still. Don't miss it.
And please come see me at Mt. Pleasant Barnes & Noble on Sat. 11 am. I'd love to see you.