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The Sacred That Surrounds Us: How Everything in a Catholic Church Points to Heaven

by Andrea Zachman

You'll Never See A Catholic Church The Same Way.

Did you know that everything about the confessional in a Catholic church—even its size—was designed in a highly specific way by St. Charles Borromeo to answer objections to the sacrament by the Reformation? Did you know there is both a theological and a practical reason why the credence table is placed where it is?

Each item in a Catholic church is there to point to a larger truth.

Every sacred vessel and item is packed with symbolism and meaning, aimed at making each visit to a Catholic church a powerful reminder of God’s presence and the truths of our Faith.

The Sacred That Surrounds Us helps reveal Catholic churches as shrines of devotion. Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture are made tangible with this book, which explains with clarity the symbolism and history behind the sacred items we see in every Catholic church.

In ancient and medieval times, the faithful knew the meaning of all the sacred items in a church. Today’s Catholics can now re-discover the sacred that surrounds them in church.  

“When entering a Catholic church, we step into a spiritual world of wonder and mystery cherished by billions throughout the millennia. But do we understand the multiple aspects of the church and liturgy meant to draw us into worship and sweep us into heaven as we celebrate the Mass together? Thanks to Andrea Zachman, these treasures of Catholic worship hidden in plain sight are now beautifully and simply explained. Every family should own and study this book together.” 

—Steve Ray, author, Crossing the Tiber

In modern churches, it can be difficult to realize the immense religious and cultural heritage we as Catholics are heirs to. It can be difficult to enter into the mysteries we are partaking in during the mass.

But every Catholic church, from the small, modern parish to the ancient basilica, has similar sacred objects and vessels. 

The Sacred That Surrounds Us helps Catholics make every visit to a Catholic church a pilgrimage of faith. 

In The Sacred That Surrounds Us, Catholics read: 

  1. At least one historical fact about the sacred item or church feature being discussed. It answers the question, why is this here? When in Church history did we start using this, and why? 
  2. At least one symbolic reality about the sacred item or church feature. It answers the question, what deeper reality is this pointing towards? What insight can we gain by meditating on this item?
  3. A beautiful, high-resolution picture of the item or feature being discussed. 
  4. A quote from the Church Fathers about this item, or a relevant quote from the Bible.
“There’s so much more to worship than meets the eye. This is your guidebook to Catholic worship—the vessels, vestments, furnishings, personnel ... everything. Highly recommended.”

— Mike Aquilina, EWTN host, author, The Mass of the Early Christians 

       Some of the items and features discussed:

      • The Monstrance
      • The Humeral Veil
      • The Tabernacle
      • The Holy Oils
      • The Altar Bells
      • The Aspersorium
      • The Aspergillum
      • and 44 more!
      “Masterfully combining gorgeous photography with clear and informative text, The Sacred That Surrounds Us allows us to step into the church as never before. This book is a must-have resource for every catechist, faith formation director, Catholic school teacher, and Catholic parent.”

      —Pamela Patnode, author, Dare to Live Catholic

        Learn things about sacred objects like...

        • Tabernacle comes from the Latin tabernaculum (meaning tent) because the Ark of the Covenant, carrying God's sacred Law, was carried by the Israelites in the desert in a tent. In the Christian Church, this sacred law is now fulfilled in Jesus Christ, who is present in the Eucharist which is often reserved inside the tabernacle.
        • Stained glass windows were first popularized in the twelfth century to help those who could not read learn the stories they depict. 
        • Inside the monstrance, the Eucharist is held in a glass container called a luna or lunette
        • At Mass or at other times in the church, we sit to learn, we stand to show something exceptional is happening (such as during the reading of the Gospels and specific prayers), and we kneel to show reverence to God.

        Catholics can take The Sacred That Surrounds Us with them to any Catholic church, walk around reading and praying with this book, and (we pray) they will experience "the scales fall from their eyes" as they realize how every Catholic church points to heaven. We only need to learn how to see it. 

        Paperback, 125 pages




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