Inside the Cenacle

If these walls could talk! Monsignor Vaghi begins this contemplative book by locating the reader within the Cenacle. (Vaghi is a church pastor; in 1995 he was designated a prelate of honor by St. John Paul II.)

Meeting God in the Upper Roomby Msgr. Peter J. Vaghi

Franciscan Media. 144p $15

The Cenacle room was the scene of the Last Supper, as well as of the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus to the disciples and their gathering on the feast of Pentecost. As if drawing a “composition of place” from the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola, Vaghi locates the readers with a vivid description so that they may “see” the space and imagine these events unfolding. From this vantage point he encourages the readers to find their own Cenacle, a personal place for contemplation. The book would make for a good companion on retreat.

Vaghi structures the book around these three events. A good amount of time is devoted to discussing the Last Supper, focusing on Jesus washing the feet of the disciples. He calls this action a “shocking gesture” and delves into detail uncovering the shock of it all. In this way the stories of Scripture and the prayers of the liturgy, so familiar, are given fresh meaning. Here also, much is said about “mercy,” rekindling the fire of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Half the book focuses on the Last Supper, and it is time well spent. But in moving on to the next two parts, the reader many find these rather brief, in comparison, and may want to hear more. It is a compliment to the beginning narrative.

Besides being a contemplation, the book is also a conversation. Vaghi engages a variety of voices from the church’s tradition, including recent papal decrees, the Second Vatican Council and St. Augustine. The subtitle of the book suggests a life-changing experience. The book is a call to conversion—a “turning around”—and the reader may find a deeper and richer understanding of his or her own life by spending time with this book.

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