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Jesus, Present Before Me

I was blessed to receive this book some time ago.  Due to a confluence of different forces it has been sitting on my desk waiting patiently to be cracked open; while I am quite the procrastinator, this was a bit longer than even I am accustomed to.  Well, God being omnipotent and all, let’s just say He put even that procrastination to good use.  But more on that later.

As with any review, we must first comment on the construction of the book, particularly in this case as it’s designed as a take-along companion.  The book is sufficiently small (7″ x 5″ x 1/2″) that it can be carried along in just about any purse, briefcase, laptop or other bag.  It is not hard-bound, making it lighter, but it also does not use a paper cover but rather a heavier imitation leather which will stand up to life in a purse or bag, and the cover sufficiently over-hangs the pages to provide them protection.  The binding is glued which is, for a book of this size, perfectly expected.  The pages are, for a religious book, surprisingly thick and sturdy – again, great for a book designed for travel.  While I wouldn’t recommend it (we are talking about a book on the Eucharist after all), you could even put this book in a back pocket and due to its construction I believe it would weather the trip just fine.  But you don’t buy a book for its construction, now do you?

The heart of the book is thirty meditations designed for Eucharistic Adoration.  If you haven’t been to Adoration, or haven’t been for a long time, reading this book will make you feel almost like you’re there – the depth and intensity of the writing saturates each page.  The author, Fr. Peter John Cameron, O.P., has clearly spent much time before Our Lord and writes not only from research but from experience.  Now, some of the meditations are absolutely centered directly on Eucharistic Adoration, but some others are a little more loose and could be used elsewhere.  I would say, in fact, that this could be read as a book, page-to-page, rather than in thirty separate sittings and the reader would still get a tremendous amount out of it.  Each meditation, all of which are between two and three pages, starts with a short scripture passage, then a reflection which provides the meat of the meditation, followed by three reflection questions and closed with a prayer – perfectly designed to begin a stay in front of the Blessed Sacrament.  The reflections are based largely but not exclusively on quotations from a variety of authors, but are primarily centered on the works of Pope Benedict XVI, St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Catherine of Siena.  As the author is a Dominican you can see a certain Dominican influence in his choices of references, but that serves only to make the reader love the Dominican order all the more rather than distract from the topic.  One could do far worse than Aquinas and Catherine of Siena.  Pleasantly, all four parts are well-integrated and form a cohesive whole.  For my part, some of the reflection questions were not only insightful but even a little difficult – I felt myself challenged repeatedly while reading this book.

If that were all to the book it’d be enough for me to say it would be a good purchase,but that only makes up the first two-thirds of the book.  Following that are Eucharistic meditations on the mysteries of the Rosary (and linking each mystery of the Rosary to the Eucharist is something I had not heretofore considered, but is brilliantly done), a Eucharistic colloquy (written in the first-person from Jesus’ point of view and, again, most moving), a Eucharistic litany based on Sacramentum Caritatis, and closing with a Via Eucharistia – twelve stations of the Way of the Eucharist.

So why did I say at the beginning that God put my procrastination to good use?  Well, this weekend we will be discussing (*drumroll*) the Eucharist at RCIA.  The connection is so perfect I couldn’t possibly have planned it.  Further, I was so impressed with the Eucharistic Litany that I hope to be able to open our RCIA session with that as our opening prayer.  With the Dominican reputation for study and preaching, I’m not at all surprised that this book is as wonderful as it has turned out to be.  If you’re looking for something to kick-start your Eucharistic Adoration, this would be a great selection.  If you think you’re “beyond” needing direction at Adoration, pick this up anyway – you’ll be amazed at how it helps keep your time with Our Lord more focused and directed.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book Reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Jesus, Present Before Me – Meditations for Eucharistic Adoration.

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  • Tatty November 12, 2015, 12:42 pm

    to me, fumbling in his words as if the Spirit were priptmong him I, I have the perfect place for you, the perfect place. He took out his Mass notes which he had jotted down and told me to write down the Capuchin Sisters of Nazareth. (I still have that piece of paper). I knew then with of certainty that wasnt from myself that this was the convent. I knew I would enter there. I left with such lightness and of heart and joy, a great constrast from the depression and heavy heart that I had entered with.At first I was very exciting about this, but then the thought came to me, what if I dont like them? There were certain things that I wanted from a convent that I hoped that they would have. One, I wanted a full habit, nothing comprimising of the tradition habit. Two, I wanted strict poverty. Three, I wanted a good prayer life. Four, I wanted them to be very devout.I was nervous as I looked them up on the websight, but then the picture came up with Sr. Veronica ( a crown of thorns around her head) with Sister Theresa, both smiling with joy. This was it!The more I learnt of them, the more I loved them, and realized that I fit in like a puzzle peice. Everything from the manual labor, the the speaking, preaching, ministering to the poor, the intense prayer life, and great poverty was an answer to everything that my heart longed for.I remember waiting for two weeks before calling them because I was soo nervous. But I am so glad I called.So here I am now.I cant say that there havnt been times when I have questioned my vocation, but there is something in me that knows that I will enter there and that if this was not the convent, then nowhere else would be.My vocation for my life come very obviously to me, for others perhaps they will not know in the same radical way, because God was so gracious in making it so obvious to me that I could never second guess.Anyway, sorry that was so long. I hope and pray for your vocation, Kat, and for all your vocations here on the websight.

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