‘The image of a people gathered at table is the story of friendship. Tables are the places where stories are heard, where love is remembered and where food is shared. Tables are about presence and the quality of presence, our presence to one another and God’s presence with us.’
In Sacramentum Caritatis, Pope Benedict XVI calls us to find relief for our hunger in ‘the food of truth’, inviting us into the sacrificial meal, from where we draw our very life. Pope Benedict asks all people to draw near to God’s love, because it holds the deepest desire of the human heart. In this book, Anna Burke ponders some of the images and metaphors from Sacramentum Caritatis and offers resources for personal and communal prayer and for group reflection.
Part One: Prayers At Table leads us on a journey through the Mass. The prayers focus on the various liturgical moments of the sacred rite and help to heighten our awareness of the communion of all creation in the Sacred Mystery. Part Two: Stories At Table explores some key texts from Scripture which direct us to the table of Communion.
Anna Burke is a Sister of Mercy who works in Adult Faith Development in the diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois. She has worked in education and faith development in Florida, Zambia, South Africa and Ireland. Her particular interest is in praying with Scripture. Previous publications include Sacred the Hour: The Rosary Story in Mystery (2007), Where Blessings Flow: Words of Glory and Thanks (2008), When Silence Falls: The Stations of the Cross (2008) and In the Secret of My Heart: Moments of Stillness in the Heart of Christ (2010), all published by Veritas.
The papal encyclical Sacramentum Caritatis (2007) in which Pope Benedict XVI develops further the underlying theme of his first encyclical Deus Caritas Est and the invitation to deepen our understanding and experience of the Eucharist, forms the basis for Anna Burke’s While They Were At Table – Eucharistic Prayers and Reflections.
Author of a number of popular devotional publications the present offering is divided into two sections ‘Prayers At Table ‘and ‘Stories At Table’ within which the author reflects upon images and metaphors contained in the encyclical as a resource both of personal and communal meditation and contemplation. In part one (the shortest part of just a dozen pages) the prayers trace the footsteps of the Mass under headings of ‘We Gather,’ ‘We Listen’, ‘ We Give Thanks’, ‘We Offer Gifts’, ‘We Seek Peace’, ‘We Bless’, ‘We Go Forth’ and ‘We Adore’.
The second and longest part offers a series of key texts from Scripture and stories of faith accompanied by prayers and homily thoughts designed to strengthen awareness of the universal nature and power of the sacrament. A welcome further addition to the current literature that has emerged to mark the Eucharistic Congress.
- Fr Paul Clayton-LeaClogherhead, Co Louth