Customer comments on this Youngstown Ohio Book
I really love this book -- I first got my copy over a year ago, and have since read through it twice. This is a book filled with penetrating insights.
Like many people who consider themselves Christian, I never thought much of the Eucharist, even though I grew up in a Catholic home. My reading of A Key to the Doctrine of the Eucharist has changed that.
Some of the other reviewers here have mentioned the challenge this book poses in terms of reading, but that was not my experience. Sure, it's not "See Spot run," but the subject matter doesn't allow for that. The fact is that this is an extremely well-written book, and a pleasure to read. That said, Vonier touches on profound ideas -- the author goes very deep. But where he goes deepest, he exercises the most care -- going over certain layers of his thought more than once to allow the reader to better see the color and context of what he's talking about, a little like unfurling a great flag. When unfurled and it's up and waving in the wind before your eyes, it's awe-inspiring.
In this day and age, when the trivial is elevated, and the most important matters are completely neglected, this book is, in my opinion, a MUST READ for everyone who has any interest in his or her own soul. I mean this, if only because Christ called Himself "true food," by which, when it comes to us as Christians today, I believe He was referring to the Eucharist (c.f. John 6). I am no longer a Catholic, although I do admire the faith of some individual Catholics I know. And I sometimes can't help but wonder -- What is happening to the Catholic Church? It seems to be falling into a sinkhole of dissipation and corruption. Nonetheless, when it comes to the question of the Eucharist, Protestants are wrong. After reading "Key," I understand why the Eucharist is the heart of the Mass. When Jesus Christ stood before His disciples during the Last Supper, took bread and said, "Take, eat; this is My body," Matthew 14:22, He wasn't lying. I wish every Catholic would run out and buy, read and be inspired by A Key to the Doctrine of the Eucharist. It would make them better Catholics, which would be a blessing for us all.
Be Renewed in authentic Catholic doctrine!
This book is relatively short, but contains some of the most thought-provoking insights on the mystery of the Eucharist to be written in the 20th century. Abbot Vonier was a visionary ahead of his time, some say, yet, he actually presents the Catholic doctrine of the Eucharist from its very inception, drawing largely from the Thomistic tradition. Contemporary "Catholics" may find it a difficult read at first, but be assured, if you persevere, the payoff is worth the work. This book should be mandatory for all seminarians and students of theology. This book is available directly from the publisher or from the Franciscan University of Steubenville bookstore for only $12.95 plus tax! Buy and read this book and be transformed in Christ.
The Key to "A Key"
The Key to the understanding of "A Key to the Doctrine of the Eucharist" is the first sentence of Chapter Ten. It should stand at the head of the book. "In theological matters the spark that illumines always comes from under the hoof of hard thinking." The hard thinking is accompanied by a certain "hard reading" because of the subject matter and at times because of the vocabulary. I am inclined to think that the average reader will find this work a challenge.
Given the atmosphere of "fuzzy" thinking run-a-muck in this modern era, one must prepare oneself well to deal with the concepts and the distinctions of Thomistic thought found in "A Key". Neither Abbot Vonier, St. Thomas nor the Catholic Faith, however allow for "fuzzy" thinking. Why should I be surprised! After further thought, the aforementioned sentence belongs where it was placed. Its effectiveness requires the experience of the struggle. Pay the price and the Catholic-of- faith will emerge significantly enriched.
"A Key" requires a clear faith in the supernatural which is not always a given in these times. This awakening occurred to me as I read deep into this little book, page 145 precisely: "Once we admit the fundamental principle that God has power to transpose reality and being from one order into the other, from the natural order into the sacramental order, we have committed ourselves to every possible instance of such transposition." But before that we must be clearly committed to the existence of the source of that fundamental principal. Especially in the matter of faith in a personal God, one with a central place in the life of each of us, we are required to reject "fuzzy thinking". Hazy notions incline toward a less than enthusiastic fidelity.
Perhaps because of "fuzzy thinking" far too many Catholics (not excluding some priests and deacons) treat the sacraments as mere "rites of passage" for which in turn they receive a "diploma." It's the "religion thing" to be done. "A Key", well digested, is a curative for that kind of mentality.
The guiding principle (A Key) that directs and informs the whole of this book is a well understood notion of sacramentality. Thankfully, the Abbott helps us in this regard. Nowhere is this truer than when speaking of the Eucharist. Religion is an integral part of the real world of everyday life. When we were born we were not endowed with a compartmentalized existence. It was a unified reality that was bestowed upon us. Through the reality of faith we enter into a mystical world, nonetheless real for being so, that is the seven sacraments. Through each sacrament the past, the present, and the future are bound together in an efficacious event which of itself is causative of sanctification. In a unique and most beautiful way the Eucharist is the "crown jewel" in this mystical treasure trove at the Catholic's disposal.
If we take to heart the thrust of this book, our spiritual lives will be enhanced and, in the words of the Abbott himself, it will make of us true mystics. Instead of instilling in me a feeling of uncomfortableness, I find that the thought makes me desirous of an ever-deepening emersion into the God-life, which the sacraments promise, especially the Eucharist.
While "A Key to the Doctrine of the Eucharist" is a studious read, it is one well worth the effort. It is a book whose time has surely come. It deserves re-reading to sufficiently plumb its depths. In fact, the Sacrament of the Eucharist demands it.