THE CATHOLIC REVIEW: Meeting Jesus Again - Insights into the Christ; Helpful Guides for the Rosary, Eucharistic Adoration
by Deacon Rick Bauer
He is risen, indeed! We hope that all our readers had a meaningful Lenten and Easter observance. The liturgical calendar provides an opportunity to experience Lent and Easter with continued spiritual growth in our lives that we treasure.
One of the responses I often receive from those Catholics who have not yet started a regular appointment with Jesus and the Sunday Mass, or who have drifted a bit during the COVID pandemic, is just how rich and meaningful the Catholic sacramental experience can be, meeting Jesus again, as it were. As an Easter experience, and perhaps building on the “holy momentum” of your own Lenten activities, we introduce a few books that could help in a variety of ways. Enjoy the recommendations, and Happy Easter, everyone!
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus goes to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before his death, he asks his disciples to “remain here and keep watch with me . . . watch and pray” (Mt 26: 38, 41). This is what our Lord invites us to do during Eucharistic Adoration.
“The Ave Guide to Eucharistic Adoration,” published by Ave Maria Press, offers “a rich array of prayers, devotions, meditations, and Church teachings to read during your quiet time with the Lord, whether you have 15 minutes or an entire holy hour.”
“Spending time in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament — a devotion that has been present in some form since the first century — is an important Catholic practice that honors the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist,” the publisher states. In just about every parish in our diocese, there are increasing opportunities to spend time in meditation in the presence of Jesus.
This new book includes elegant, vintage lithographs and engravings taken from traditional prayer books, psalters, and Bibles and presented in a contemporary design. Since ours is a historic faith built on the insights of the saints through the ages, this short handbook can be an effective guide to enter into this sacred fellowship.
We become what/who we worship, the adage goes, and so time spent in worship of Jesus will transform us (don’t tell anyone, but I have had the first opportunity in my life — due to job changes — to partake of daily Mass and eucharistic adoration for the past three months. Jesus is working to change my heart, my perspective, and my love for others).
“The Ave Guide to Eucharistic Adoration” also includes helpful information on the history of the devotion, reflections on what the Church teaches about it, and general steps and options for making a Holy Hour based on the book’s contents.
In “The Ave Guide to the Scriptural Rosary,” also published by Ave Maria Press, we find rich aspects of praying the rosary — either as a novice disciple or a seasoned Catholic —that will deepen our devotion to Mary and to her Son. This hardcover keepsake includes all of the directions, prayers, and Bible verses you need to understand and pray a Scriptural Rosary for each of the four mysteries—Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful, and Glorious.
The rosary is one of the most valued and practiced prayers in the Catholic Church and the greatest and most popular devotion to Mary, the Mother of God. A scriptural rosary takes the devotion a step further, allowing you to contemplate the lives of Jesus and Mary through God’s Word. With the announcement of each mystery, a short excerpt from the corresponding Gospel story—taken from the New American Bible Revised Edition, the scripture translation used in the Mass—is read to describe the event from Jesus’s life. Then, before each Hail Mary, a psalm or short line or two from scripture is read, echoing the feelings and spiritual attitude related to the mystery. An appendix includes Marian prayers, a litany, a novena, and information about Marian consecration. If you want to deepen your Rosary experience (a must for long commuters!), or if you are just beginning the holy habit of praying the Rosary, this handy new book can be a wonderful blessing.
Both of these new books are compact, filled with information, and directed at deepening your relationship to God in fervent prayer. These two small keepsake books are a wonderful place to either start or improve our devotion. They might make the perfect gift for an upcoming graduate, a new parent, or a novice disciple of Jesus.
In his book “Who Do You Say I Am?” (Sophia Institute Press), Catholic author Eric Sammons opens up the Gospel of Matthew (which we are reading during this “A” liturgical year in the Lectionary), by focusing on the many titles of Jesus used in this gospel. Dividing his study of Jesus’ titles into four groups, we study first the Incomplete Perceptions. These are often given by crowds, religious people, and mistaken skeptics — including Man, Rabbi, Ghost, Carpenter’s Son, John the Baptist, Elijah, and Jeremiah — the author introduces us to each title, the textual mentions in Matthew’s gospel, and other scriptural support. We also see how some of these titles are reflected in the church’s rich traditional writings — saints, doctors, formal writings are all part of the stories.
In the second part of the book, the roles of Jesus are examined — King of the Jews, Prophet, Lord of the Sabbath, King of Israel, Teacher, Christ, and Lord. In the third section, we mine the titles for Jesus that Matthew repeats from the Old Testament Titles — Nazarene, Shepherd, Physician, Bridegroom, and Emmanuel. Finally, we conclude our study by discovering how multi-dimensional Jesus’ Sonship is — Son of Abraham, Son of David, Son of Man, Son of God, and “My Beloved Son.” 24 titles given to Jesus by just one gospel writer; this text is easily read, practical in its applications, and reflects a comprehensive portrait of Jesus created by Matthew’s gospel. If your Lent or Easter brought you closer to Jesus (and you don’t want it to stop!), or if you are reading along in the Gospel of Matthew for Mass this liturgical year, this is a wonderful guide to Who it is that the evangelist describes. Reflecting on these titles of Christ is a wonderful guide to a rewarding time in eucharistic adoration. Imaging praying to Jesus with the very titles that Matthew used to describe our Savior. This is a good book, very helpful for personal or group study.
For those who are seeking a deeper insight into Jesus and are willing or able to reflect with a bit more Christian maturity, the works from Baker Press and their Baker Academic Press division are reaching Catholic minds and teachers with increasing frequency. We appreciate their helpful and respectful insights, and the many Catholic scholars and teachers who are now publishing through them.
The early followers of Jesus drew from Jewish and Greco-Roman traditions and titles to help them understand and articulate who Jesus was. “Origins of New Testament Christology” by Stanly Porter and Brian Dyer opens a window into the “Christology” (the knowledge or wisdom about Christ) of the first century by helping readers understand the eleven most significant titles for Jesus in the New Testament: Lord, Son of Man, Messiah, Prophet, Suffering Servant, Son of God, Last Adam, Passover Lamb, Savior, Word, and High Priest. The authors trace the history of each title in the Old Testament, Jewish Second Temple literature, and Greco-Roman literature and look at the context in which the New Testament writers retrieved these traditions to communicate their understanding of Christ. The result is a robust portrait that is closely tied to the sacred traditions of Israel and beyond into the Church.
A more academic approach than Eric Sammons’ book, Porter and Dyer still write a book that is accessible (a minimal familiarity with New Testament Greek would help in looking up words, though). Porter and Dyer argue that the titles of Jesus invariably point to an understanding of Jesus as God. In the process, it will help readers appreciate the biblical witness to the person of Jesus — well worth the time for those reading to dive a bit deeper for scriptural treasure.
(Deacon Rick Bauer is a content editor for the Augustine Institute and currently serves at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Colorado Springs.)