Book Notes: Meeting God in the Upper Room

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Monsignor Peter J. Vaghi describes the Upper Room as “the most important room in Christendom” in his new book, Meeting God in the Upper Room (Servant, 2017). In one whirlwind 8-week period, the Upper Room was the location for three significant events in the birth of the Church:

  • the Last Supper
  • Jesus’ post-Resurrection appearances to his disciples
  • Pentecost

By Assaf Yekuel (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Msgr. Vaghi notes in the Prologue that the Upper Room, or Cenacle, was renovated in the 14th century, which explains the architectural style of the room as seen above.

What must the disciples have felt during their time in that room? Did they celebrate the Passover with trepidation, having heard Jesus tell them again and again that this trip to Jerusalem would end in his death? Were they astounded and elated when the risen Christ appeared to them in that room, continuing to teach them to take on the work of building the Church? Were they simultaneously energized and terrified at the descent of the Holy Spirit and their commissioning to make disciples of all nations?

“Once we catch a glimpse of the events that transpired in this room, we will be forever captivated by the mystery of the God who loves us so much that, even as he prepared to return to the Father, promised that ‘I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.’ (John 14:18, NRSV)” (1)

Msgr. Varghi’s discussion of the history of the Upper Room based on Gospel accounts complements the meditations that are the meat of this book. I found the history fascinating; in various chapters, you’ll read about personalities, prophecy, sacraments, and Catholic social teaching. Each chapter ends with a section titled “Preparing Your Upper Room” in which the reader is invited to consider the personal implications of Jesus’ message.

I recommend Meeting God in the Upper Room for spiritual reading during Lent or, even more appropriately, beginning in Holy Week and continuing through the Easter season, when you can read the book as you liturgically relive the events depicted in it.

About the author: Monsignor Peter J. Vaghi is pastor of the Church of the Little Flower in Bethesda, Maryland, and a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington. He received seminary and theological training at the Pontifical North American College and Gregorian University, both in Rome. Msgr. Vaghi was designated “Prelate of Honor” by St. John Paul II in 1995, and has served since 1987 as chaplain of the John Carroll Society, a group of professional men and women in service of the Archbishop of Washington. He is the author of Encountering Jesus in Word, Sacraments, and Works of Charity as well as the Pillars of Faith series. He has also written articles for America, Priest, and Our Sunday Visitor and contributed to two collections of writings on priestly spirituality: Behold Your Mother and Born of the Eucharist.

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Copyright 2017 Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS

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About Author

Barb Szyszkiewicz is a wife, mom, Secular Franciscan, and editor at CatholicMom.com. Her three children range in age from high school to young adult, and she enjoys writing, cooking, and reading. Barb is a music minister at her parish and an avid Notre Dame football and basketball fan. Find her blog at FranciscanMom and her family’s favorite recipes with nutrition information for diabetics at Cook and Count.

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