Top positive review
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A real eye-opener
on June 14, 2004
I remember several years ago, when I first became interested in my faith, that being the Catholic faith, and I decided that if I am to call myself Catholic, and if I am to practice my faith, and identify myself with the tag "Catholic", then I am to know what my Church teaches. I was also very clear with myself, in making sure that I didn't choose wishy-washy Catholic writers, such as Paul Wilkes (author of the horrible book "Seven Secrets of Successful Catholics") or the controversial Hans Kung, but with those who are dubbed, how shall I say this, orthodox in their presentation of that which we call Catholic. Scott Hahn definitely falls into that boat called "orthodox".
I am what people would call a cradle Catholic, yet, somehow, this teaching of the Church seemed to slip by me over my years of catechism. With the state of the Church in America, that shouldn't strike one as too odd, though. I do seem to remember at one point in high school, though, hearing a friend of mine allude to the theology presented so eloquently by Mr. Hahn. Other than that tiny reference to it, for eighteen years of my life, I was all unawares about the Mass (or Divine Liturgy) being heaven on earth.
So, initially, the book was over my head. I had no real holding place in my mind for what Hahn was presenting in his book. I was so used to hearing Protestant mumbo-jumbo about the book of Revelation in reference solely to that which is yet to happen; I was conditioned, as they say. So, I had to read it slowly. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. For me, though, it was definitely an odd thing, for I am definitely not a slow reader; but it was, alas, a good thing. I call it good, for I came away with a much keener appreciation for the Divine Liturgy.
Not long after I read this splendid book, I paid a visit to a local Byzantine Catholic Church. In Eatern Churches (at least Byzantine Churches), Catholic or Orthodox, the marriage of Heaven and Earth is represented in a beautiful, symbolic way. The area where the congregation sits is referred to as Earth, and where the altar is is referred to as Heaven. Between the two is an icon screen, called an iconostasis. It is literally a wall covered with icons, separating Heaven from Earth. In the center are the Royal Doors, adorned with an icon of the Annunciation. On either side are the Deacons Doors, adorned with either icons of Deacons who are recognized as Saints or icons of angels. Some Byzantine Churches go so far as to have curtains also, to ensure that one can't see on the other side of the iconostasis. As soon as the Divine Liturgy (what Eastern Christians call the Mass) begins, with the Great Doxology, the Royal Doors open, symbolizing that Heaven and Earth are now one and the same, as Heaven has now touched down.
Anyways, I apologize for my digression. In short, this book was wonderful. I have now read it four times, my most recent time being in one day. Some may view this book as one that shouldn't be recommended to anyone unless they're either Catholic or Orthodox, for it may come across as too strange for Protestant minds. I wholeheartedly disagree. This book contains splendid apologetics for the Eucharist, and also demonstrates quite beautifully that what Protestants call "New Testament worship" is anything but what is found in their Churches. Yet, Hahn demonstrates so with charity and, might I add, clarity. Read this book!