Book Review: The Holy Bread of Eternal Life by Professor Peter Kwasniewski

I must say how genuinely impressed I was with reading The Holy Bread of Eternal Life by Dr. Peter Kwasniewski.  In an age of commonplace liturgical impiety and abuse, this book offers such a breath of fresh air!  In fact, I have been waiting for someone to write this same book for most of my adult life.  Indeed, the time is ripe to re-assert common Catholic sensus and the perennial teachings of the Church for Eucharistic reverence and worthy reception at the altar.  This is done primarily through education.  Catholics of all ages must be taught (and constantly reminded) and this book does exactly that.  

As I have said many times, we are witnessing today a remarkable flowering of Catholic intellectual life while most of the leading lights of this renaissance are almost all found among the laity (and in many cases converts).  Although not a convert himself, this includes Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, who is a lay writer and thinker playing a key role in shaping and forming the discussion.  Dr. K's evolution of thought has brought him to where he is today, while helping to convert many others to the cause of the Classical Roman Rite.  The book adds to Dr. K's already strong corpus of writings, acting as a cohesive bulwark to help educate the lay faithful and clerics alike, forming the next generation of pastors and teachers.  

Many concerned Catholics in the Church today would agree that we live in a time of unparalleled universal apostasy and pervasive liturgical abuse and habitual "desacralization."  In fact,  liturgical "deformation" has become so commonplace that the liturgy is often barely recognizable, bringing to mind the painful reality of the brokenness of the Western Church today.  The desiccation of the liturgy is a sure sign of crisis in the Church in any generation and its reversal is a sure answer to prayer.  In the olden days Catholic theologians were saints.  Today we have many Catholic "theologians" who are ambiguous in their language and cause great harm and scandal by their equivocation and novelty in all things liturgical.  This book presents a philosophical response to to the ignoranti and modernists while clearly detailing the path forward.  

While previous books have been written on the subject of reverence for the Blessed Eucharist, this one is unique -- it offers the best and most complete up-to-date reassessment and response to the lack of piety which has become a hallmark of our times.  Such a response had not yet been quite as effectively mounted like this before, given the complexity and confusion of the state of the Church the last few generations.  In many ways the challenge of secularism has infiltrated the Church and must be met on the cultural level.  The lay faithful must be empowered to respond.  Faithful Catholics must act now before we lose another generation.  The EF presents itself as a solution and a refuge where the rights of all are fostered and protected.   

One paramount issue the author tackles is the discipline of Communion in the hand, an unfortunate reality in the postconciliar Church which sets the scenario for obvious sacrilege.  Chapter 7 is powerful and stands out: Why We Should Receive Communion Kneeling and on the Tongue.  This is followed by an equally compelling section, Chapter 8: The Scandal of Communion in the Hand.  This is followed by Chapter 9: The Wisdom of Tradition, which presents itself as an obvious solution.  The author is clear and concise, referencing the Angelic Doctor, the tradition of Holy Mother Church, the Councils, theologians, saints, Roman Pontiffs and of course the philosophia perennis, unaffected through the ages by time or place.  This quote from the book sums up the author's brilliant clarity of teaching and common sense logic: "Why is receiving the Holy Eucharist directly into the mouth the only right way to receive the Lord?  To begin with, it has centuries of unanimous practice in East and West behind it.  Accordingly, it must be considered a development guided by the Holy Spirit" (pp. 95-96).  Indeed, this is the voice of reason and of the ages, pronounced in the manner of our ancestors.      

I pray every Catholic can own a copy of this book and have it on their shelf for easy access and reference.  Buy a few copies.  Give one to your pastor.  Give one to a seminarian.  Give one to a fallen away Catholic.  I promise reading it will change your spiritual life and equip you to answer the question of how best to unlock the forces of grace that will ultimately revitalize the Church.  The author is asking the right questions at the right time - questions that resonate with all serious Catholics who are paying attention and are troubled by what they see all around them.  Our Lord is greatly offended by unworthy reception of the Sacrament and by that multitude of believers who no longer believe in the true presence of Him in the Holy Eucharist.  The author brilliantly puts before us a message of hope and catechesis while reaffirming the validity of past traditions that were put in place in previous times of difficulty as effective safeguards.  Order your copies here from our good friends at Sophia Institute Press and enjoy!

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