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Posted September 27, 2003

Book: With Burning Hearts: A Meditation on the Eucharistic Life
Author: Henri J. M. Nouwen
Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY, pp. 128

Excerpt from Introduction:

Every day I celebrate the Eucharist. Sometimes in my parish church with hundreds of people present, sometimes in the Daybreak chapel with members of my community, sometimes in a hotel suite with a few friends, and sometimes in my father's living room with just him and me. Very few days pass without my saying, "Lord have mercy," without the daily readings and a few reflections, without a profession of faith, without sharing the body and blood of Christ, and without a prayer for a fruitful day.

Still I wonder: Do I know what I am doing? Do those who stand or sit around the table with me know what they are part of? Does something really happen that shapes our daily lives even though it is so familiar? And what about all those who are not there with us? Is the Eucharist still something they know about, or desire? How is this daily celebration connected with the daily life of ordinary men and women, be they present or not? Is it more than a lovely ceremony, a soothing ritual, or a comfortable routine? And finally, does the Eucharist give life, life that has the power of overcoming death?

Excerpt from Book:

The Word of God is not a word to apply in our daily lives at some later date; it is a word to heal us through, and in, our listening here and now.

The questions therefore are: How does God come to me as I listen to the word? Where do I discern the healing hand of God touching me through the word? How are my sadness, my grief, and my mourning being transformed at this very moment? Do I sense the fire of God's love purifying my heart and giving me new life? These questions lead me to the sacrament of the word, the sacred place of God's real presence.

At first this might sound quite new for a person living in a society in which the main value of the word is its applicability. But most of us know already, generally unconsciously, of the healing and destroying power of the spoken word. When someone says to me, "I love you,: or "I hate you," I am not just receiving some useful information. These words do something to me. The make my blood move, my heart beat, my breathing speed up. They make me feel and think differently. They lift me up to a new way of being and give me another knowledge of myself. These words have the power to heal or to destroy me.

When Jesus joins us on the road and explains the scriptures to us, we must listen with our whole being, trusting that the word that created us will also heal us. God wants to become present to us and thus radically transform our fearful hearts.

Table of Contents:

Acknowledgments

Introduction

The Road to Emmaus

I. Mouring our losses: "Lord, have mercy"

II. Discerning the Presence: "This is the Word of God"

III. Inviting the stranger: "I believe"

IV. Entering into communion: "Take and Eat"

V. Going on mission: "Go and tell"

Conclusion