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Barb Szyszkiewicz reviews Mysterion: The Revelatory Power of the Sacramental Worldview.

When you read Mysterion, you'll be challenged to give up the idea that theology is scary and complicated and difficult. Fr. Harrison Ayre puts complex ideas into simple language (without watering down their meaning) and invites the reader to ponder how Christians participate in the life of Christ.


Mysterion cover


I'll be honest: this book sat on my shelf for a while, because that title—Mysterion: The Revelatory Power of the Sacramental Worldview—was pretty intimidating. When I decided to give the book a try, I discovered that it was not nearly as complicated as I'd expected. As Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble, FSP, notes in the Foreword, "you do not need to be a theologian to read this book" (xv). All you need is openness to looking at the world through eyes of faith.

This book is an attempt to express the idea that the word "sacrament" has a broader and deeper meaning than we often give it. We are going to explore the idea that we always have access to the life of Christ today, principally through the Church and the life of discipleship, but also by looking to the whole of creation and seeing it as a sign that points us to God. (xx)

Way back in my Catholic-grade-school days I learned that "a sacrament is an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace." Mysterion takes a look beyond the seven sacraments of the Church and examines how, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a sacrament is "the visible sign of the hidden reality of salvation" (774). God works within the sacraments—within the tangible—to teach us something about Himself.

Fr. Harrison's premise is that God has structured all of Creation to reveal Himself to us, and that because "the Church really makes Jesus' salvation visible to the world" (4), the Church herself is seen as a sacrament.

God does not want us to merely notice His presence in every aspect of our world, though: "God uses the material world to draw us into His life" (4).

Throughout the book, we learn how we participate in the life of Christ through the Church. I found the chapters on the liturgical year and the Mass particularly interesting.

I'd be remiss not to mention the beautiful cover designs by Sr. Danielle Victoria Lussier, FSP. I say "designs" because the jacket design, pictured above, is different from the cover of the hardback book that lies beneath, which is a metaphor for all that the book contains. The cover on the book itself is based on ancient iconography and makes a beautiful entry point for meditation.

This is a book to be savored and pondered. I probably underlined more than 10% of it, and I recommend this book to any reader who's on the fence about theology because they think it's over their head.

Mysterion is published by Pauline Books and Media and is available through the publisher, on Amazon, or through your local Catholic bookseller.



Copyright 2022 Barb Szyszkiewicz
Images: Canva

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