Becoming Eucharistic People: the Hope and Promise of Parish Life

by Timothy P. O’Malley

Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D.


In this book, Dr. Timothy O’Malley from the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame provides one answer to this issue: spending time before the Eucharistic Lord helps build the kind of culture that fosters a Eucharistic communion. O’Malley suggest that this culture involves four dimensions Reverent and enculturated Eucharistic worship, an integral Eucharistic formation that attends to all the possible sources for catechesis, an approach to Catholic life that recognizes that every dimension of our lives—both public and private—is to be understood as Eucharistic, and a cultivation of a Eucharistic solidarity that transforms the parish and neighborhood alike. O’Malley’s book is not just an argument. It’s an invitation to the common task of discernment for Catholic parishes, schools and apostolates to carefully examine whether the Eucharist is the source and summit of their lives. This book invites hard but salutary questions. Is our worship reverent? Does our catechesis attend to the whole person? Does the presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist leads men and women toward a more profound witness to divine love in the world?


In fact, these are the kind of questions that come about when you spend time with Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. The insights you have when you recognize that the Eucharist is a sacrifice of love, calling the whole Church to a deeper self-gift and deeper communion. This book has proposed that as Catholics our deepest identity is the Eucharist. We are a Eucharistic people, those who have received love and thereby are called to give it away. That is our hopeful mission as a Church, a Eucharistic Church who assembles around the real presence of her Lord. Only then will we live as Eucharistic People, possessing a culture infused with the self-giving love of Jesus Christ poured out for the life of the world. We must learn to become what we have received. So this book has invited us and our parish into a process. It has not bestowed all answers (but many of the online resources will help with a common act of discernment). The hope is that, through reading this book, you will be able to initiate a Eucharistic revival in your corner of the cosmos. One that leads men and women, who are otherwise suspicious of ecclesial belonging, to take more than a second look. Perhaps they will come, see, and stay with us. For they might recognize, in worshipping with us in our parishes, that their hearts were burning all along. And, just maybe, our Church is where hearts are continually aflame with a love beyond all telling. At least, that’s what Jesus promised to us.

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