From Age to Age: How Christians Have Celebrated the Eucharist
By Edward Foley (Liturgical Press, 2008)
Warning: If you read this book you may never look at a chalice the same way again. Instead, you may see, in addition to a sacred vessel, a theological statement about the Eucharist as it was understood at a particular moment in history.
Capuchin Father Edward Foley’s From Age to Age offers readers a series of lenses through which to see the evolution of the celebration of the Eucharist in the Roman Catholic tradition from the first century to the present. Each of the seven chronological chapters spends significant time gazing through each of these lenses and then offers a section summarizing the eucharistic theology of the era. Each chapter concludes with a brief, charming story offering a glimpse of how the Eucharist may have looked to one ordinary person of a given era.
The genius of this book is that it is almost a multimedia experience between two covers. A map at the beginning of each chapter locates the reader in both time and place. A rich collection of quotations from scripture, papal pronouncements, theologians and other scholars, and conciliar decrees and liturgical books among others, lines the wide margins of the book sometimes interacting with the main text but often just offering an additional glimpse into the subject.
Most impressive, though, is the vast number of images throughout the text—art pieces, book illustrations, schematic drawings, floor plans, photographs of buildings and artifacts, musical notation—all of which supplement the author’s argument that to understand the history of the Eucharist fully one needs to look broadly at the culture that surrounded it as well as at the liturgical texts and theological underpinnings.
This is a great text for the interested nonprofessional as well as the academic. Parish study groups and liturgy committees would both enjoy this book and benefit greatly from it. A large bibliography invites the interested to study further.