Sometime just before Lent I got an email from Zaccheus Press asking if I would like a copy of Abbot Vonier’s “A Key to the Doctrine of the Eucharist.” Asking me if I would like a free book is rather superfluous but I have finally gotten through a pile of books and to this one. I wish I had started with this one first. Especially now that the Pope has announced a Year of the Eucharist beginning in October. Abbot Vonier was a German who entered a French Benedictine abbey. A church-state crisis caused them to relocate to England and he went on to be the Abbot at the age of 31 and remained in office until his death. He preached and wrote from the early 1900’s through to the inter-war years. His writing is heavily Thomistic and he draws much from the works and thoughts of St. Thomas Aquinas. Despite the depth of the theological understanding of the sacraments and his focusing on the Eucharist; these ideas are presented in a way that should be understandable to most.
Here is where he summarizes the first couple chapters of this book.
Three concepts belonging to the general theory of sacraments in the theology of Saint Thomas, more than any others, have made it possible for him to keep the Eucharist entirely within the sacramental circle. The first, so prolific in its consequences, is the representative signification in every sacrament of a past, a present, and a future; the past being the death of Christ on the cross, the present being the very thing which the external symbol signifies, the future being the union with Christ in glory. The second concept, belonging to the sacraments in general, and as fertile, is this: that the sacrament is not only man’s healing but also God’s glorification, i.e., the divine cult. It will be readily perceived that the Eucharist sacrifice which is radically a representative sacrifice of a past immolation, and which is essentially a supreme act of worship, moves easily withing such broad views concerning sacraments in general. The third idea, so dear to St. Thomas, that the sacrament actually contains what it signifies; that it is not merely an external symbol, but a true carrier of spiritual realities. This notion of containing, to which the Doctor clings with such tenacity in his general theory on the sacraments, makes it possible for hims to speak of the immolated Christ as being contained in the sacrament, “The sacrament is called a victim (hostia) because it contains Christ Himself, who is the victim of salvation.”
I highly recommend this book because there is much to nourish you intellectually and also to nourish your contemplative prayer life in reflecting on this great gift that God has given us in the Eucharist. And I am not just saying this because the publisher sent me a free book.