Father Ronald Rolheiser celebrates the Eucharist every day. Our One Great Act of Fidelity is described as a deeply personal book, and that it is. This book is a love letter to God and the Eucharist. Rolheiser recognizes his Roman Catholic perspective–his background adds to the richness of his understanding of the Eucharist. He explores other denominations’ traditions and how they approach and understand the Eucharist. He looks at the history of the Eucharist and draws on insights from various scriptures, scholars, theologians, and church teachings.
Rolheiser recognizes his bias, but he is not afraid of the tension of the different ways other people and traditions understand the Eucharist. He challenges you to see the Eucharist in a new light by encouraging you to consider aspects of the Eucharist you may not have considered before. He writes: “[The Eucharist] is multivalent, carrying different layers of meaning, some of them in paradoxical tension with others. There is, even in scripture, no single theology of the Eucharist, but instead there are various complementary theologies of the Eucharist.”
I loved this book. Of course I could talk about the Eucharist for hours, so it is not surprising I enjoy reading about someone else who loves and values the Eucharist. This book is a very short, easily understandable read. There is repetition, which feels unnecessary considering the book is already short. I could have done without the three Saint Augustine sermons at the end of the book. Despite the occasional repetition, this book is a breath of fresh air. In my own tradition, we see the Eucharist as a means of grace. It is the means by which Christians are able to connect with God’s grace.
With chapter titles like “The Eucharist as a Meal, as a Celebration of Our Health and Joy, and as a Celebration of Our Pain and Sorrow” and “The Eucharist as a Vigil, as a Communal Rite of Waiting,” you know Rolheiser has thought deeply and thoroughly about the Eucharist and its meaning for our lives. Each chapter is only a couple pages, but they all provide thoughtful reflections. “The Eucharist is meant to be God’s regular nourishment for us, daily manna to keep us alive within the desert of our lives,” writes Rolheiser. In another chapter he writes:
“[…] among its other attributes, the Eucharist is meant simply to be a family meal, a community celebration, a place, like our kitchen tables and living rooms, where we come together to be with each other, to share ordinary life, to celebrate special events with each other, to console and cry with each other when life is full of heartaches, and to be together simply for the sake of being together.”
If you want to gain a deeper understanding about the Eucharist, read this book. It does not matter if you are a Catholic or a Protestant, this book contains helpful information. You may not agree with all of Rolheiser’s words, but it will provide a deeper appreciation for the holy meal that has been meaningful for so many Christians.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.