Reading Guide: The Lamb’s Supper by Scott Hahn

The Lamb’s Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth by Scott Hahn

Discussion Questions for Individual Reflection or Group Study

As Catholics, most of us are so familiar with the Mass that we might fail to see the powerful supernatural drama that unfolds each time it is celebrated. Saint John Paul the Great said that the Mass is “heaven on earth.” In the pages of The Lamb’s Supper, popular author Scott Hahn explores how what we celebrate on earth is actually a mysterious participation in the heavenly liturgy. He shows how the Book of Revelation provides the key to understanding the Mass—as well as how the Mass is the only way to fully understand the Book of Revelation. This study guide is designed to help you see the Mass in a new way, with the goal of participating more fully, enthusiastically, intelligently, and powerfully in the liturgy than ever before.

 

PART ONE—THE GIFT OF THE MASS

Chapter 1: In Heaven Right Now

  • St. John Paul the Great said that the Mass is “heaven on earth.” Would you describe your experience at Mass each week as “heavenly”? If not, what keeps it from being so?
  • Have you ever connected the Mass with the Book of Revelation? Describe and discuss the connection Scott Hahn made.
  • Why did the ancient church fathers consider the Book of Revelation the key to the liturgy, and the liturgy the key to the Book of Revelation?
  • Do you have questions regarding certain aspects of the Mass? Are there areas that don’t seem relevant or meaningful to you? Which parts of the Mass are the most meaningful and have the most significance to you?

 

Chapter 2: Given for You

  • Look at the eight titles for God on page 14. The first seven seem appropriate for Jesus Christ, who is both human and divine (Lord, God, Savior, Messiah, King, Priest, Prophet). Why is he also called “Lamb”?
  • Read the passage in Genesis 14:18–20 that talks about Melchizedek. What was different about his priestly sacrifice, and in what way is he a foreshadowing of Christ?
  • List the ways that the story of Abraham and Isaac can be seen as a profound allegory for Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross.
  • Sacrificing animals was a central part of ancient Israel’s religion. What did all these sacrifices mean? (Hint: see if you can come up with four meanings.)
  • What was the significance of the Passover—the pivotal sacrifice in Israel’s history? Why was Passover so central to Jesus’s mission? What should Passover mean to us today as Christians?
  • Why does the Mass proclaim Jesus as the “Lamb of God”? And why does Revelation portray him as a “lamb standing as if slain”?
  • Worship includes praise, atonement, self-giving, covenant, thanksgiving—and sacrifice. Sacrifice can seem outdated and ancient to our modern minds. What is the deeper meaning of sacrifice?

 

Chapter 3: From the Beginning

  • Pagans sometimes thought the early Christians were involved in cannibalism and human sacrifice because the Eucharist was so central to their life and worship. How central is the Eucharist to your life—not just when you’re at Mass, but throughout your week?
  • How would you define the doctrine of the Real Presence to someone unfamiliar with it?
  • Scott Hahn says the todah can be called the liturgical “ancestor” of the Mass. In what way is the todah a powerful expression of confidence in God’s sovereignty and mercy? What are the similarities between the ancient Jewish todah and our Catholic Eucharist?
  • In your own life, what are some ways you see evidences of God’s providential care?
  • Think about what it must have been like to be one of the early Christians. You might not have been able to read—or even if you could, you probably couldn’t afford to have books copied out for you. How would you have felt about the words of the liturgy, so much of which came from the Scriptures? How might this be different from the way you hear the words of the liturgy today?

 

Chapter 4: Taste and See (and Hear and Touch) the Gospel

  • How do you envision the worship of the early Christians? Do you imagine it to be spontaneous and improvised? How does your vision differ from a typical Catholic Mass today?
  • What is the value of order and routines, ritual precision, and liturgical etiquette?
  • In your own life, how is faithfulness to your routines a way of showing love to your family and other relationships?
  • How does the liturgy make us more effective in the spiritual life and in life in general? How does it impact your life?
  • How does the liturgy engage your whole person: body, soul, and spirit?
  • What are the two distinct parts of the Mass, and what does each include?
  • St. Cyprian of Carthage wrote that “in the . . . Sign of the Cross is all virtue and power . . . . In this Sign of the Cross is salvation for all who are marked on their foreheads.” What did he mean by this?
  • Scott Hahn says that the Sign of the Cross is the most profound gesture we make as Christians. Have you thought of it this way? Why is this true, and what does this gesture signify? Why is the Sign of the Cross is a reminder of who we are? How is the Sign of the Cross like a solemn oath, and what is that oath?
  • How is “hearing” the Word of God different from “reading” it?
  • Origen said, “No one understands in heart . . . unless he is open-minded and totally intent.” Does this describe you during the readings at Mass? What could you do to develop a deeper attentiveness? How might these readings help you prepare for receiving Holy Communion?
  • Scott Hahn says that just as Jesus comes to us through “humble, tasteless wafers,” so the Holy Spirit sometimes speaks to us through a “monotone, lackluster preacher.” What is your reaction to a dull, dry homily? Have there been times when a boring sermon ended up inspiring you, and if so, how?
  • During the Offertory, how can your work, prayers, family life, mental and physical relaxation become spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ, as the Second Vatican Council said? How can offering all these ordinary things to God “consecrate the world itself” to him?
  • What does the phrase “Lift up your hearts” mean to you?
  • As you go through your days, how conscious are you of the presence of the angels and saints? What difference would a deeper awareness of them make in your life?
  • Describe how the Mass fulfills perfectly the words of the Lord’s Prayer.
  • In Jesus’s day, the word communion most often described a family bond. In what way does receiving Holy Communion renew this family bond today?
  • How is the Mass a “sending forth,” not so much a dismissal, but a commissioning? What are we being sent forth to do?

 

PART TWO—THE REVELATION OF HEAVEN

Chapter 1: “I Turned to See”

  • How do you feel about the Book of Revelation? Does it fascinate you? Terrify you? Frustrate you? Explain why.
  • How do you feel when you think about the world ending? What hopes or fears does it arouse in you?
  • Martin Luther, the very first Protestant, found the Book of Revelation to be so bizarre that for a while he even thought it didn’t belong in the Bible because he said that “a revelation should be revealing.” What does the Book of Revelation reveal?
  • Scott Hahn says that the early Church fathers frequently associated the liturgy with the Apocalypse, making an explicit connection between the Mass and the Book of Revelation. Have you ever made such a connection? How might the Mass shed light on the Book of Revelation, and vice versa?
  • Imagine yourself as a Greek-speaking Jewish Christian during the apostle John’s time. How might you view the vision John shares in the Book of Revelation?
  • What did the temple mean to pious Jews during this time? Why did the early Christians consider the torn temple veil so theologically and liturgically significant?

 

Chapter 2: Who’s Who in Heaven

  • What are some similarities between the Gospel of John and the Book of Revelation?
  • How can we become, like John, “beloved disciples” of Jesus? How can we develop an increasingly intimate relationship with him, and what clues does John’s response to seeing a vision of Jesus in his power and glory leave for us?
  • The early Church fathers believed that when John describes the woman in Revelation 12:1–2, he was describing the Ark of the New Covenant as well as Mary. What similarities exist between the Ark and Mary?
  • Scott Hahn says that “the woman” stands for more than Mary. What else does she represent?
  • How can we answer the argument raised by some biblical scholars who say that the woman cannot be Mary since, according to Catholic tradition, Mary suffered no labor pains? How might we also address the argument that the woman in Revelation has other offspring, while Mary remained a perpetual virgin?
  • Describe the ways that Revelation portrays Mary as the “New Eve.”
  • How can we better understand the reality of the two hideous beasts in Revelation? How are they more than mere symbols? Who are these beasts in reality? What does Satan want to accomplish through the two beasts?
  • What does the first beast—a seven-headed, ten-horned monster—stand for? What does the second beast stands for?
  • What is the “mark of the beast,” and what does this mark represent?
  • What does the number 666 have to do with work? What happens to our work when we fail to offer it to God—when we put it before him in importance?
  • Scott Hahn says the Apocalypse should lead us to a greater appreciation of our priestly heritage and a sober consideration of our accountability to God. How well are you living out your covenant with God? How faithful are you to your “priesthood”? How might you live it out more faithfully?
  • The beasts communicate to us that we are fighting spiritual forces—immense, depraved, malevolent forces. What instances of these forces do you see around you? How can you fight these forces spiritually?
  • Scott Hahn writes that angels (meaning “messengers”) do not actually have bodies. In terms of the angels’ nature or mission, describe the significance of their wings and their multiple eyes. How does this significance serve to reassure rather than frighten you?
  • Angels are might warriors, battling constantly on the side of God. Have you had any experiences where you sensed an angel’s presence of protection on your behalf?
  • Revelation 6 talks about the martyrs being “under the altar.” Why would they be under the altar? What was usually under the altar of the earthly Temple?
  • Scott Hahn says the meaning God intends us to get from the Book of Revelation is often plainly told in the text. What does he mean when he says we must “fight the temptation to strain for the extravagant while denying the obvious”? What can fighting this temptation help us to better understand about Revelation?

 

Chapter 3: Apocalypse Then!

  • The author says that the futuristic interpretation of the Book of Revelation should not be our primary focus. Why do you think he says this?
  • From earliest times, Christians have spoken of the Bible having both a literal and a spiritual sense. What does the Church mean by this? What does each of these “senses” describe?
  • When it comes to Revelation, why are so many interpreters so sharply divided?
  • How would you say Revelation offers encouragement to Christians undergoing persecution and trials? Are there particular verses that have spoken to you when you’ve experienced times of tribulation?
  • What are some ways the Book of Revelation might be literally about the fall of Jerusalem?
  • Both John and Jesus refer to a distant Parousia (return) and an ongoing Parousia, which still takes place today. How is the Church literally the kingdom of heaven already begun on earth, and what form does this take?
  • Jerusalem is “allegorically called Sodom and Egypt.” What is it that these two places held in common?
  • What does Scott Hahn mean when he says, “You cannot be a good Catholic until you’ve fallen in love with the religion and people of Israel”?
  • Place yourself imaginatively in the time of John’s Revelation. Why would the very idea of Jerusalem’s fall make you anxious?
  • In every age, the Church faces mighty persecutors, with ever more powerful armies and weapons. What are some of the persecutors the Church faces in our own day? How does the Mass enable Christianity to prevail over these forces?

 

Chapter 4: Judgment Day

  • Do you find the severity of the judgments in the Book of Revelation to be incongruous with the idea of a merciful God? How can these two concepts be reconciled, and how do both concepts apply to our own lives?
  • How is God’s judgment more than an impersonal, legalistic process? How can his judgment be an expression of love?
  • How does sin destroy the family bond we have with God? How does it keep us from true life and true freedom?
  • Describe what happens when we allow sin to become habitual in our lives and choose not to repent.
  • Why would a good God allow economic depression, foreign conquest, or natural catastrophes in our world? Why might this be the best thing he can do for us?

 

PART THREE—REVELATION FOR THE MASSES

Chapter 1: Lifting the Veil

  • Scott Hahn wrote that the realization that what takes place in the Book of Revelation takes place every time Mass is celebrated was life-changing for him. In what ways has this realization changed your life?
  • As you look at the Apocalypse with a “sacramental imagination,” what small details in the Mass correspond with what you read in the Book of Revelation? Describe some ways the Apocalypse is organized like a liturgy.
  • Why do you think John depicts celestial scenes in graphic, earthly terms in the Apocalypse? Why didn’t he use other ways to help us understand the transcendent, immaterial nature of heavenly worship?
  • The Greek word apokalypsis means an “unveiling.” How is the Book of Revelation an unveiling about how the Church was to deal with the destruction of Jerusalem? How does Revelation guide Christians as to what to leave behind and what to bring with them as they embrace the New Covenant
  • How did Jesus intensify, internationalize, and internalize the way Israel worshipped?
  • Scott Hahn says that all scriptural roads seem to lead to the city of King David, Mount Zion. What is Zion a symbol of—what does it signify?
  • St. Cyril of Jerusalem says that when we “lift up our hearts” at Mass, “we should have our hearts set on high with God, and not below, thinking of earth and earthly things.” What are some ways you can actively seek this “recollection”? How might this change your experience of being at Mass?
  • How is the Book of Revelation a personal invitation from Jesus to each of us? What is he inviting us to? How can you more authentically respond to his invitation?

 

Chapter 2: Worship Is Warfare

  • What are some of the ways today that people seek to flee real life? What are some ways you seek to avoid it?
  • Why would we want to avoid the reality of being human? Do you agree with Scott Hahn that it is the seemingly omnipresence of evil and our own apparent inability to escape it? What is your typical escape route from reality, and what would you say is the root of it?
  • Since we cannot avoid evil, how can we begin to conquer the forces that oppose us?
  • Are there situations in your life where you feel that Jesus has delayed in coming to help you? What aspects of today’s world seem firmly in the hands of evil forces? Do you believe that the saints and angels direct history by their prayers? How would this belief change the way you view the world and its problems?
  • How do you envision Jesus’s Second Coming? Do you think it will be anything like his first? When John speaks of the “wrath of the Lamb,” how terrifying does that image seem?
  • The author says that the expectations of many Christians about the Second Coming of Christ need adjustment. What adjustments might your own expectations about this event benefit from? How does God mean us to view Christ’s Second Coming?
  • Scott Hahn says that while hell may seem to prevail in the world, the Church is, in a sense, in charge, and our prayers and the sacrifice of the Mass are the force that propels history toward its goal. How effective and forceful are your own prayers? How can you pray more powerfully?
  • In the Mass, the victory is already won. How then should we understand our ongoing combat? Why should we continue to fight?
  • Scott Hahn says that God wills that each of us should play an indispensable role in salvation history. Do you see yourself in such a role? How might your unique place in the world affect something so important?
  • The most dangerous enemies are within our own souls: pride, envy, laziness, gluttony, greed, anger, and lust. What sinful habits in your own life must you battle? How can you begin to root them out so you can truly advance in the spiritual life?
  • Name some ways that you can prepare for Mass—both before you arrive and when you first are seated in church.
  • The saints and popes teach that we should go to confession “frequently.” How frequently do you take advantage of this sacrament? If you don’t go very often, what might you do to rearrange your schedule so you can go more frequently?
  • Describe some ways that we are on the winning side in spiritual warfare. How should this make you think, feel, and act?
  • Even though we are on the winning side, the battle is still a battle. How does the evil one assault us, especially during Mass? What specific onslaughts have you experienced?
  • How do small, ordinary things or people that distract, annoy, anger, or cause us to judge require heroism to fight against? Why does Scott Hahn say these are the tough battles?
  • After reading this book, when you hear doomsday reports that the end is near, why might you be able to respond without fear? How can you choose to see the Apocalypse as something to run toward rather than away from?

 

Chapter 3: Parish the Thought!

  • We are all part of the heavenly family, but before we can enjoy this bond, many of us must put aside modern, Western notions about family. How does the way we view family today differ significantly from the way it was viewed during Bible times?
  • St. John Paul the Great said, “God in his deepest mystery is not a solitude, but a family.” Why is this such an earthshaking truth? What makes God “a family”?
  • To prepare for our oneness with Christ, our mystical marriage, we must leave our old lives behind. Is there anything in your life that you need to leave behind so you can fully enter into the newness Christ offers?
  • Marrying into the family of God is meant to completely transform us. In what ways has becoming aware of your new life in Christ changed you? What has it transformed?
  • Do you truly see yourself as part of the whole family of God—from the angels and saints and all the Christians who have gone before you to the parishioners you worship beside today? Does this thought make you uncomfortable? Can heaven really be heaven if all your neighbors are there, too?
  • Scott Hahn says that loving difficult people refines us. How is this true? Is there someone difficult in your life that you are striving to love? How has this refined you?


Chapter 4: Rite Makes Might

  • We usually envision heaven as a place of joy, where God, “who will wipe away every tear” (Revelation 21:3) welcomes us. But Scott Hahn says that heaven is also where we see ourselves clearly and where the Judge reads our works from the Book of Life. He says our deeds go with us when we go to heaven, and also when we go to Mass. How can this awareness impact you and the choices you make?
  • Describe what happens when you dip your fingers into holy water and make the Sign of the Cross. How have you thought of holy water in the past? Has Scott Hahn’s description given you a new perspective in any way?
  • How are you more than a spectator at Mass? In what way are you a participant? How might seeing yourself as a participant change the way your experience of the Mass?
  • We profess our belief in one holy catholic and apostolic Church during the Creed. Do you live by the teachings of that Church without exception? If not, what areas do you choose to ignore, and why?
  • How attentively do you receive the Bread of Life? Do you receive Christ as reverently as you would an earthly king?
  • How can you treat the mysteries of heaven with more respect? How can you teach your children to do the same?
  • We are called to live like the martyrs lived—by offering ourselves sacrificially wherever we are. How can this martyrdom manifest itself in your everyday life? Name some tangible ways that you, like the martyrs and missionaries, restore all things in Christ.
  • How has your understanding of the Mass changed through reading this book? How has your understanding of the Book of Revelation deepened?


Reading Guide: Jesus the Bridegroom by Brant Pitre

Jesus the Bridegroom: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told by Brant Pitre – Discussion Questions for Individual Reflection or Group Study

Jesus the Bridegroom is a unique exploration of how Jesus’s suffering and death fulfilled Old Testament prophecies of a divine wedding—the God of the universe forming an everlasting nuptial covenant with his people. As Scott Hahn says: “This book will change you. It is an invitation to experience the sacraments, personal prayer, Scripture study, and marriage. Most of all, it will deepen your love for Christ.” In this book, many familiar passages of the Bible are transformed; when seen in the light of Jewish Scripture and tradition, we begin to see the life of Christ as nothing less than the greatest love story of all time.

 

Introduction

  • In the Bible as well as in Church teaching, there are many references to Christ as the “Bridegroom” and the Church as his “Bride.” What does this mean?
  • In Ephesians 5, the apostle Paul describes the relationship between a husband and wife. Why does Paul tell wives to “submit” to their husbands? Why don’t husbands have to submit to their wives, but just have to love them? What might the deeper meaning of these verses be—or do you see these words of Paul as chauvinistic and outdated?
  • In this same chapter of Ephesians, Paul compares the relationship between husbands and wives with Christ and the Church. Paul’s view is that the torture and crucifixion Jesus endured was an expression of spousal love. How do you explain something that sounds so mysterious—even incongruous? How could Jesus’s death be compared to a husband’s love for his wife? How could a brutal crucifixion be compared to a wedding?
  • If you had been present at the crucifixion and watched Jesus die such a painful death, how would you have described what was happening?

Chapter 1: The Divine Love Story

  • Today, some modern views of God range from seeing him as the Creator (who may or may not be involved in our daily affairs) to an impersonal “Higher Power” or an invisible “Problem Solver” to be invoked when things are out of control. How do these various contemporary definitions of God differ from the way first-century Jews saw God?
  • How do you see God? Has your view of who he is changed over the years, and in what ways?
  • How might seeing God as a “Bridegroom” change the way you relate to him? How would it change the way you view sin? What would be different if you truly saw sin as “spiritual adultery,” the betrayal of a relationship, instead of just “breaking the law” or “missing the mark”?
  • What does salvation mean to you? Do you see it as just the forgiveness of sins (as wonderful as that is), or do you see salvation as union with God? How would you describe what it means to be in union with God?
  • After reading this chapter, how has your understanding of the Song of Songs changed or expanded? Why would ancient Jewish tradition identify the bridegroom in the Song of Songs as God?

 

Chapter 2: Jesus the Bridegroom

  • If someone asked you to explain who Jesus of Nazareth was, why he lived, and why he died, how would you answer?
  • When John the Baptist tells his disciples that he is not the Messiah but rather the “friend of the bridegroom,” what do you think his hearers thought? What do you think John expected them to take away from what he said?
  • How do you typically read the Bible? What might change for you if you began to understand the words of Scripture from their original, first-century Jewish context?
  • Jesus’s first public miracle was changing water into wine at a wedding (see John 2:1–11). Since Jesus was only a guest at this wedding, why do you think Mary would have mentioned the lack of wine to him?
  • Why does Jesus address Mary as “Woman” instead of “Mother”? If he wasn’t being disrespectful, why would he have chosen to speak to her that way?
  • Jesus indicated to Mary that it’s not “his hour.” What could this mean? But then, he performed a miracle anyway. What did he intend his disciples to understand by this sign?
  • Reflect on this first miracle of Jesus in light of the ancient Jewish expectation of an abundant divine banquet to come. What might Jesus be signaling to those who have eyes to see? What is he revealing about his own divine identity?
  • How can we begin to see the Last Supper as a wedding banquet? What clues does Jesus provide? How does having knowledge of the Jewish background help us to more fully understand the meaning of the Last Supper?
  • How does Jesus reveal himself to his disciples as the true Bridegroom?

 

Chapter 3: The Woman at the Well

  • How does the Samaritan woman “prefigure” all believers who make up the Bride of Christ?
  • What is the significance of Jesus’s encounter with the woman at the well taking place at “Jacob’s Well”?
  • The Samaritans were generally despised by the Jews and thought to be unclean. Why would Jesus engage a Samaritan woman in conversation?
  • What is the meaning of the conversation between Jesus and the woman at the well? Why do they discuss “living water”?
  • List some similarities between Jesus’s encounter with the woman at the well and Jacob’s encounter with Rachel. What significance might these similarities have?
  • What are the various meanings for the phrase “living water” in biblical times? What does Jesus mean by the term?
  • What is the connection between Jesus’s encounter with the woman at the well and his crucifixion? How does living water come into play here?
  • St. Augustine wrote that the Samaritan woman “bore the type of the Church.” What do you think he meant by this?

 

Chapter 4: The Crucifixion

  • If Jesus is the Bridegroom and the sinful human race is his bride-to-be, when exactly is his wedding day? How does he become married to his bride?
  • Read Jesus’s answer in Mark 2:19–20 when people asked him why his disciples didn’t fast like John’s disciples and the Pharisees. Why didn’t he just answer the question rather than giving such a cryptic response involving wedding imagery?
  • How does the understanding of Jewish wedding traditions and definitions of unfamiliar terms like “sons of the bridegroom” and “bridechamber” provide us with a deeper description of the crucifixion? What significance do they convey?
  • If thousands of Jews both before and after Jesus also died by crucifixion, why was Jesus’s death on the cross any different? Why is his crucifixion the only one in all of history to be described as a marriage? What light does this shed on his true identity and why he died that way?
  • A number of biblical scholars have concluded that the seamless garment that Jesus wore signifies that he is not just the Messiah, but also a priest. Why is this connection between Jesus’s garment and the priesthood important for us to grasp?

 

Chapter 5: The End of Time

  • The author says that although the wedding of the Messiah and his bride begins with the crucifixion, it is not yet fully complete. What does he mean by this?
  • If the great wedding between God and humanity is underway, but not yet complete, when will its actual fulfillment take place?
  • In the Jewish tradition, it was the duty of the bridegroom to have a home ready beforehand for his bride—unlike modern times where a couple gets married first and then buys their first home together. How does this shed light on Jesus’s words to his disciples during the Last Supper, when he says, “When I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may also be” (John 14:3)?
  • To most of us, the word apocalypse means “the catastrophic destruction of the universe.” But the Greek word apokalypsis had a different meaning for ancient Jews. What is that meaning, and how can this transform our understanding of the Apocalypse described in the book of Revelation?
  • How are the “new Jerusalem” and the “new Israel” described in the Book of Revelation also images of the bride of Christ?
  • When John says that the bride of Jesus is also a “new temple,” what does this mean?
  • List the similarities between the Garden of Eden and the “new Eden” John describes in Revelation 22:1–5.
  • What is the reason for Jesus saying that there will be no more marriage between men and women in the kingdom of heaven?

 

Chapter 6: The Bridal Mysteries

  • The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that the entire Christian life “bears the mark of the spousal love of Christ and the Church (CCC, 1617).  How can focusing on Jesus the Bridegroom not only shed light on the deeper meaning of his life and death, but also show us the deeper significance of what it means to be a Christian?
  • What does the sacrament of baptism mean to you? Does it have any significance beyond being an outward sign of turning away from sin or a ritual of being initiated into the Catholic Church? If so, what might it also signify?
  • What are the similarities of being baptized and the ancient Jewish tradition, the bridal bath?
  • How has the author’s commentary on the deeper meaning of baptism affected you? List any new insights you may have received. How might your new understanding impact the way you experience your faith on a daily basis?
  • How does baptism prepare Christians for an even deeper union with Christ in the Eucharist?
  • For many Christians, the Lord’s Supper is a “memorial” of the Last Supper and the events that occurred on the night Jesus was betrayed. For others, it is a “sacrifice” made present through the bread and wine. What further meaning comes to light if we look at the Eucharist through the lens of Jesus being the Bridegroom and the Church being his bride?
  • St. John Chrysostom warned against receiving Communion in a state of unrepented grave sin. What did he mean? Why is this more than just “breaking the rules”?
  • Have you ever thought of the Eucharist as “the sacrament of the Bridegroom and the bride,” as St. John Paul II referred to it? How would this change your experience when you receive Communion?
  • How does the Christian view of marriage differ for those who see it as a divine institution and those who merely view it as a human institution?
  • In what ways should a Christian marriage be like the supernatural love between Christ and the Church? How would this look in a practical sense?
  • Beyond human procreation, what is the highest purpose of Christian marriage?
  • If you are married, have there been times when you have shared in your spouse’s suffering, out of love? What were the circumstances, and what effect did this have on your spiritual growth?
  • The author says that the key to understanding the sacraments of baptism, the Eucharist, and marriage as “nuptial mysteries” is to recognize them as “participations in the mysteries of the Jesus’s passion, death, and resurrection. In what ways has this book deepened your understanding of this mysteries and given you a new way of looking at these familiar sacraments?

 

Chapter 7: Beside the Well with Jesus

  • The author says that when we recognize Jesus as the Divine Bridegroom, we begin to recognize ourselves as the Samaritan woman. In what ways do you see yourself as the woman at the well?
  • Explain the meaning of this statement from the Catechism: “Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God’s thirst with ours.”
  • Jesus is waiting for us to bring him our brokenness and ask him to give us the gift of his Spirit. What area (or areas) of brokenness are there in your life? What difference might the gift of the Holy Spirit make in these broken places?
  • As this study draws to a close, what are the top three takeaways you gleaned?

 


Image Author 101: Christopher West

This month in our Image Author 101 series, we’re highlighting author Christopher West.

 From 1979 to 1985, Pope John Paul II gave a series of lectures, 129 in total, which became known as the “Theology of the Body.” These lectures focused on the creation of humans and offered a thoughtful reflection an in-depth exploration on the meaning of the body and human sexuality in light of the culture’s fascination with the sexual revolution. Author, speaker, theologian, and teacher Christopher West has spent his career specializing in Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body lectures, making them accessible to a wide audience and unpacking some of the more difficult teachings for a modern audience.

Since the late 1990’s Christopher West has been teaching both undergraduate and graduate level classes on the topics of human sexuality and their biblical connections, having served on the faculties of St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, The Institute for Priestly Formation at Creighton University in Omaha, and as a visiting professor at the John Paul II Institute in Melbourne, Australia. In 2004 he started serving as a research fellow and faculty member at the Theology of the Body Institute near Philadelphia, PA.  He is also the founder of The Cor Project, which is a global outreach aimed at cultural renewal through the New Evangelization.

Archbishop Charles Chaput, Archbishop of Philadelphia, says that “Christopher West’s keen grasp of John Paul II’s Theology of the Body and his ability to make it accessible to others is changing lives, strengthening marriages, and renewing people’s faith in the Church across the country and internationally.”

Christopher has written two books with Image Books: At the Heart of the Gospel and Fill These Hearts.  Christopher lives in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania with his wife Wendy and their five children.

Enter to win a copy of Christopher’s book At the Heart of the Gospel. THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. THANKS TO ALL WHO ENTERED!


NEWS: Scott Hahn’s ANGELS AND SAINTS Blog Tour: May 27 – June 7

To celebrate the release of Dr. Scott Hahn’s newest book, Angels and Saints, we’re hitting the road, ahem web, for a virtual book tour to 12 of the blogosphere’s finest Catholic blogs!

In Angels and Saints, Dr. Hahn sets out to bring Catholics closer to their faith through a considerate examination of two of Catholicism’s most sacred traditions. The result is a rich and thoughtful book that shows how the angels and saints are with us in everyday life.

Dr. Hahn writes that his process for choosing saints for the book was personal, “I notice that my chosen saints tend to be those with whom I have something in common. Most are teachers, scholars, and writers.”

In a similar way, we’ve asked the bloggers on this tour to write about one of the saints from the book that is particularly significant to him/her.

On each day of the Angels and Saints Blog Tour (May 27 to June 7) one of 12 participating bloggers will post a reflection on the saint of his/her choosing.

We are grateful to all of the incredible bloggers who will be hosting stops on the tour. Please support them by visiting their sites and reading their reflections. Additionally, we will be giving away copies of Angels and Saints at many of the stops along the way. Be sure to check in daily for your chance to win!

 

May 27: St. Michael and the Angels – Catholic Katie 

May 28: Moses - Abigail’s Alcove

May 29: St. Paul – Catholic Bibles

May 30: St. Ignatius of Antioch – The Orant

May 31: St. Irenaeus of Lyons – Seasons of Grace

June 1: St. Jerome – Stuart’s Study

June 2: St. Monica and St. Augustine – Happy Catholic

June 3: St. Thomas Aquinas – Blog of the Courtier

June 4: St. Therese of Lisieux – Single Catholic Girl

June 5: St. Maximilian Kolbe – Random Acts of Momness

June 6: St. Josemaria Escriva – Catholic Mom

June 7: Queen of All Saints, Mother of the Church – This Cross I Embrace

 

About the Book

Angels and saints. Catholics tend to think of them as different from the rest of us. They’re cast in plaster or simpering on a holy card, performing miracles with superhero strength, or playing a harp in highest heaven.

Yet they are very near to us in every way. In this lively book, Scott Hahn dispels the false notions and urban legends people use to keep the saints at a safe distance. The truth is that Jesus Christ has united heaven and earth in a close communion. Drawing deeply from Scripture, Dr. Hahn shows that the hosts of heaven surround the earthly Church as a “great cloud of witnesses.” The martyrs cry out from heaven’s altar begging for justice on the earth. The prayers of the saints and angels rise to God, in the Book of Revelation, like the sweet aroma of incense.

 

About the Author

Dr. Scott Hahn holds the Fr. Michael Scanlan Chair of Biblical Theology and the New Evangelization at Franciscan University of Steubenville, where he has taught since 1990, and he is the founder and president of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology. In 2005, he was appointed as the Pope Benedict XVI Chair of Biblical Theology and Liturgical Proclamation at St. Vincent Seminary in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.  In 2014, he was appointed as the first McEssy Distinguished Visiting Professor of Biblical Theology at Mundelein Seminary of the University of Saint Mary of the Lake. Dr. Hahn is also the bestselling author of numerous books, including The Lamb’s Supper, Reasons to Believe, and Rome Sweet Home (coauthored with his wife, Kimberly), and is editor of the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible and Letter & Spirit: A Journal of Catholic Biblical Theology. Some of his most recent books are Many Are Called, Consuming the Word, The Catholic Bible Dictionary, and Signs of Life. He lives in Steubenville, Ohio.

 

To request a review copy or to schedule an interview with Scott Hahn, please contact Katie Moore, publicist, kamoore@randomhouse.com, 719-268-1936.


Reading Guide: Angels and Saints by Scott Hahn

Discussion questions for individual reflection or group study for the book Angels and Saints by Scott Hahn

Introduction: The Church and the Holy Ones

Scott Hahn begins his book writing, “When people talk about ‘the Church,’ we know what they mean—or at least we think we do.” What do you mean when you talk about “the Church”? How do the earthly church and the heavenly church relate to each other in your life?

Chapter 1: Incident in Assisi

When Dr. Hahn’s son, Joe, experienced a life-threatening illness in Assisi, Hahn wrote that he came to realize how much of his life had been a “web of fears, cares, concerns, anxieties, and worries.” In what ways has your life been caught in a similar web?

Chapter 2: The Only Saint

How does the understanding of the word “saint” as simply meaning “holy” affect your understanding of sainthood? Does it make the idea of becoming a saint seem more “doable”?

Chapter 3: For All the Saints

Dr. Hahn writes that we face the choice for holiness “with every moral decision that arises during our earthly life.” What moral decision are you facing right now? In light of this view of holiness, how will your own decision making process change?

Chapter 4: What Do Saints Do?

What is your understanding of Purgatory now that you’ve read this chapter? How does Purgatory fit into the Communion of Saints? What role does intercessory prayer play in your life?

Chapter 5: Talking about My Veneration

How would you explain to a non-Catholic the difference between the adoration we give God and the honor we give the saints and Mary? Why do Catholics say they pray “to” the saints and Mary?

Chapter 6: A Gathering of Angels

What are angels? Why can dead people never become angels? How can the Church have authority over the angels?

Chapter 7: St. Michael and the Angels

Dr. Hahn highlights that only three angels are named in Scripture. Look up the following references and write down the characteristics of these angels: Michael (Daniel 10:21, Jude 9 and Revelation 12:7); Gabriel (Daniel 8”16 and Luke 1:19); Raphael (Tobit 5:4). How do these characteristics compare to popular culture’s portrayal of angels?

Chapter 8: Holy Moses

Why does the Church consider Moses a “saint” even though he was never officially canonized? In what ways is he a model of contemplation and prayer for us today?

Chapter 9: St. Paul, Son of God

In this chapter, Dr. Hahn writes that St. Paul wanted Christians to understand that God desires, not to be our judge, but our Father. How might your prayers change when you think of God as your father?

Chapter 10: St. Ignatius of Antioch, God’s Wheat

St. Ignatius’ most famous quote reads, “I am the wheat of God and let me be ground by the teeth of the wild beasts, that I may be found the pure bread of Christ.” What does this mean to you? How can St. Ignatius’s death turn him into the “bread of Christ”?

Chapter 11: St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Blessed Peacemaker

In the Beatitudes, Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God.” How does the life of St. Irenaeus show this to be true?

Chapter 12: St. Jerome and his Circle

St. Jerome was irascible and hot-headed. Despite his temper, he became a saint. What qualities did St. Jerome possess that allowed him to become a saint? How does this influence your perception of sainthood?

Chapter 13: St. Monica and Her Son

Monica prayed for Augustine for seventeen years. Is there something in your life that you have been praying about for what seems like forever? In what ways does Monica’s example give you the hope and confidence to continue praying for your intention?

Chapter 14: St. Thomas Aquinas, Biblical Theologian

Dr. Hahn explains that Aquinas says that “Grace is the New Law that enables us to keep the commandments in a way that we as children of Adam couldn’t on our own.” What does that mean to you in a practical sense? How do we access God’s grace?

Chapter 15: St. Thérèse of Lisieux

What is it about St. Thérèse and her “little way” that Scott finds so intimidating? What do you think about her statement that “God would not inspire desires which could not be realized…”? What are your godly desires that need to be realized?

Chapter 16: St. Maximilian Kolbe, Saint of Auschwitz

How does St. Maximilian’s devotion to Mary prepare him for his sacrifice at Auschwitz? His last known words were: “I am a Catholic priest.” What would you like your last words to be?

Chapter 17: St. Josemaria Escriva, Saint in the Street

St. Josemaria first prayed, “Lord, that I may see,” but then changed his prayer to “Lord, that it may be.” What do St. Josemaria’s prayer teach you about being open to God’s leading?

Chapter 18: Queen of All Saints, Mother of the Church

Dr. Hahn explains that Jesus has given his mother to be your mother. In what ways do you need Mary to be your mother today? Have you asked her for her help? Why or why not?

Last Words

Dr. Hahn quotes Blessed Newman saying “the heart is commonly reached…through the imagination…” Has your heart been reached recently? Which chapters have resonated with you the most? What is currently “inflaming” your soul? What are you going to do about it?



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