Posts Tagged With: Book Reviews

A.L.L. Book Review: Blessed Pope John Paul II, The Diary of Saint Faustina, and the End Times

With Amazon Prime, I receive one book each month to read for free on one of my Kindle devices from the Amazon Lending Library(A.L.L.). As of the date of this posting, this book is available for free to any Amazon Prime members with a Kindle device.

 

Blessed Pope John Paul II, The Diary of Saint Faustina, and the End Times

by Susan Crimp, Sister Paulette Honeygosky, vsc., and Maxine Burton

 Previously, I briefly address some of my issues with apparitions, and my desire to gain a better understanding and appreciation for them. Events such as Divine Mercy, Fatima, Lourdes, and Sacred Heart are considered private revelations and are not part of the required dogma of the Church. Take them or leave them, it’s up to you. However, recently, I’ve felt a desire to learn more about these messages instead of just casting them aside as hogwash. This book is the first in my studies of apparitions.

First off, let me just say that this book is in dire need of a good editor. The grammatical errors are many and they give the book a rough, unpolished feel. It is worth it to get past these errors to get into the subject matter. Susan Crimp is the primary author, and she is also the author of a book about Charlie Sheen, the four Gospels, Oprah Winfrey, and converts from Islam. Ms. Crimp is eclectic to say the very least. 

As the title suggests, Blessed Pope John Paul II, The Diary of Saint Faustina, and the End Times explores the life of Saint Faustina, Pope John Paul the Great’s mission to share Divine Mercy with the world, and how the message of Divine Mercy relates to the end times. Of course, any time anybody mentions the end times, I immediately wonder what kind of kook we’re dealing with, but let’s be honest. The end times cannot be anything but nearer and we are called to be vigilant. Despite the availability of the Doomsday Clock, we don’t know the hour, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore the topic altogether for fear of sounding paranoid.

Bringing Divine Mercy to the World

Crimp’s retelling of Faustina’s history is thorough, and peppered with excerpts from Faustina’s own diary. 

Contrary to what you may think, if someone, anyone says they saw a vision of Mary or Jesus, or St. Michael or the donkey Jesus rode into town on Palm Sunday, no one, not even your Mother Superior or the pope will believe you. Faustina was blessed with support from her Priest, Fr. Sopocko, and without his encouragement and assistance, the message of Divine Mercy may never have left the convent walls. Crimp does an excellent job here of bringing Faustina’s story to life, and her sufferings are heartrendingly vivid.

After Faustina’s death, we transition into Karol Wojtyla’s early years. When he was working as a laborer in the limestone mines, he would frequently visit the grave of Faustina, the little nun who saw Christ. When he became Pope John Paul II, he believed it was his mission to bring Divine Mercy to the world, and he did. Faustina was the first Saint of the 21st century and devotion to the Divine Mercy has spread like wildfire.

Now for the million dollar question: What does all of this have to do with the end times? The message of Divine Mercy is very universal, and so very basic that many believe that if Christ did appear to a nun or anyone, He would give a more in-depth message. Divine Mercy is as simple as ABC: ask for mercy, be merciful, and completely trust in Jesus. As the hour grows later, there are more and more reported sightings of Mary, and the message is always plain and simple: ask for mercy, perform penance, and return to God. So, what’s so different about this message that Jesus appeared instead of Mary?

The Image of MercyHP_Divine_Mercy_06

The difference is the image. Faustina was instructed to have the Divine Mercy image produced and shown to the world to prepare us for the end times. This is where the connection to Islam comes in. I personally had never heard of the prophesies about the Muslim messiah, but I haven’t done a lot of research into Islam whatsoever. Some say that Jesus will return as the right hand of the Muslim messiah, and there are detailed descriptions of what He will look like. You could probably spend 100 years comparing the Muslim prophesies to the book of Revelation, but anyone with a cursory knowledge of Revelations will know that the Antichrist had a very clear second in command. Perhaps the image is important so we will be able to distinguish between the true Christ and the impostor?  But there are multiple images and they don’t look exactly alike….

This is where we must remember that throughout the Gospels, Jesus preached and the people did not understand the message until the plan of salvation came to fruition and Jesus rose from the dead. So, when considering the book of Revelation or the message of Divine Mercy, or anything pertaining to the end times, it’s okay to not understand the entire plan. We’re not supposed to.

There were a few points that were made in the book that I felt needed additional citations or just a little more information. Some of the biggest ones were

  • Faustina’s mental health: The book states she was examined several times, but there are no specifics. Dates, names of doctors, who the doctors were, (were they from the Vatican, from the convent, from the outside?) would help substantiate this claim. I’m sure you can find more information (and I’ll continue to look) but it would be nice to cite specific sources.
  • Lack of demonic interference: With these types of visions, once we establish that the vision is legitimate, the next step is establishing what side it’s coming from. Now, Crimp states that if anyone was going to be a victim of spiritual assault, Faustina was an unlikely candidate, but she doesn’t really give any details as to why. Was it merely her piety or something else? Not that piety is “mere” by any means, but it would be nice to know what we’re basing that assertion on.
  • Use of Divine Mercy images: The book states that many people in Faustina’s village hung a Divine Mercy image in their homes. When the Nazis came, those who did had the image in their homes were passed over. Lovely story. Can’t find anything to confirm it.

I’m certainly not saying I think these are false statements, but being skeptical on the whole thing, more information would be better. Faustina’s mental and spirtual state are crucial to validating the message, after all.

The Verdict

Warts and all, I think this book is a great jumping off point for anyone seeking more information about Divine Mercy. The Muslim connection is interesting, and I think it definitely deserves more attention. It would be nice if someone (anyone) would give this book a good once over and correct the editorial errors. At the end of the day, though, it has information about Divine Mercy that every Catholic should know.

I finished this book a few weeks ago, actually, but I’ve been struggling to sit down and write this review because well, I’ve had a hard time sitting down and writing out anything lately.  Also, I was characteristically indecisive about what I should look at next. I decided to spend a particularly slow Sunday afternoon at work looking at quotes from the Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen when I came across this:

This brings us to our second point: namely, why the Blessed Mother, in the 20th century, should have revealed herself in the significant little village of Fatima, so that to all future generations she would be known as Our Lady of Fatima. Since nothing ever happens out of Heaven except with a finesse of all details, I believe that the Blessed Virgin chose to be known as Our Lady of Fatima as a pledge and a sign of hope to the Moslem people, and as an assurance that they, who show her so much respect, will one day accept her divine Son too. Evidence to support these views is found in the historical fact that the Moslems occupied Portugal for centuries. At the time when they were finally driven out, the last Moslem chief had a beautiful daughter by the name of Fatima. A Catholic boy fell in love with her, and for him she not only stayed behind when the Moslems left, but even embraced the Faith. The young husband was so much in love with her that he changed the name of the town where he live to Fatima. Thus, the very place where our Lady appeared in 1917 bears a historical connection to Fatima, the daughter of Mohammed.

–Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

 Well, that settles it. Next stop, Fatima!

Categories: Amazon Lending Library Reviews, Chasing After God | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A.L.L. Book Review: The Ultimate Saints Guide to the Immaculate Conception

When I bought Scott’s Kindle Fire for Christmas, I had a fair amount of $$$ in my shopping cart, which I suppose is what prompted Amazon to offer me 20$ off a yearly Prime subscription. In addition to free shipping and Amazon Instant Video, I receive one book each month to read for free on one of my Kindle devices from the Amazon Lending Library(A.L.L.). As of the date of this posting, this book is available for free to any Amazon Prime members with a Kindle device.

 

The Ultimate Saints Guide to the Immaculate Conception

by Dan Quinn & John Quinn

Back in September, I shared with great delight that my sister was starting RCIA classes! Unfortunately, a few weeks ago, Betsy advised me that she could not accept the Immaculate Conception. She is continuing RCIA classes for now (it goes without saying–please pray for her!) but will not be joining the Church at this time. I wasn’t sure how to approach the topic with her, so imagine my delight when I stumbled upon The Ultimate Saints Guide to the Immaculate Conception!

For those of us who are Protestant converts to the Catholic Church, our relationship with Mary can feel more like a mother-in-law relationship. It’s awkward and strange, and sometimes it just feels wrong. After all, we were raised to believe that veneration of Mary is sinful. The Immaculate Conception did not become dogma until 1854, which leads many people to believe that is a new theory propagated by the Catholic Church, but that couldn’t be further from the truth, as this book reveals.

 The Ultimate Saints Guide to the Immaculate Conception is really just a wonderful compilation of writings from Saints. The Quinn brothers begin by defining what the Immaculate Conception is (which far too many of us confuse with something else entirely), then telling the story of St. Joachim and St. Ann, taking from the revelations of St. Bridget of Sweden, St. Elizabeth of Shenau, Ven. Anne Catherine Emmerich, and Ven. Mary of Agreda.

Next up, a defense of the dogma of the Immaculate conception by St. Robert Bellarmine. St. Robert dishes up the usual fare: Mary declares that all generations will call her blessed, the woman clothed with the sun of God’s radiant grace can be no one else, and so forth. My favorite scriptural reference, of course, is the foreshadowing in Genesis 3:15:

“I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed, and she shall crush thy head.” 

It was, in fact, the Lady of Grace statue at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cathedral in Oklahoma City that I was gazing upon when I suddenly, completely out of the blue, understood the “whole Mary thing.” There she was, her foot on the serpent, crushing his head, and a light bulb went off. I had read books, prayed, and finally just resigned myself to uncertainty, but in that moment of quiet reflection, I just got it.

My favorite section by far is the writings of Church fathers on the Immaculate Conception. Going back to the first century, to St. Andrew, the Apostle, we have writings of Church fathers supporting the dogma that Mary was full of grace and therefore did not fall into sin. While the idea that Mary was withheld from sin from the moment of her conception is not universally acknowledged, there is evidence that although she was capable of sin, because of the grace given to her, she did not succumb to it.

I especially liked this quote:

“Purity is understood by the absence of what is contrary to it, and, therefore, a creature may be found, than which nothing can be more pure in created things, if it be defiled by no contagion of sin; and such was the purity of the blessed Virgin, who was exempt from original and actual sin. But she was beneath God, inasmuch as there was in her the power to commit sin.”

St. Thomas (8th Century Church Father)

The Quinn brothers also dive into the visions of St. Bernadette at Lourdes, and St. Catherine Laboure of the Miraculous Medal. The story of Lourdes is particularly important to me because that was the story that helped me to accept Mary as Mother and advocate, along with my light bulb moment. It’s very difficult to deny the events at Lourdes, and if the events are true, then what Mary said there was true. St. Bernadette was so poorly educated, and so sickly, but she was also so devout. I just find it difficult to doubt her story.

Overall, I think this is a marvelous little reference on the Immaculate Conception, especially for converts who need a little help with getting to know Mary a little better. As far as being just the thing I needed to convince Betsy….No. I’ve been there. She needs an AHA! moment, a light bulb experience. No one can contrive that for her. Arguing with her won’t change a thing (trust me, you don’t want to try). So, if you’re trying to convince a Protestant, this is a must-have tool, but there’s no magic bullet as far as I’m concerned. Of course, with all matters of faith, sometimes our hearts just have to find a quiet spot where they can sort it out for themselves.

Categories: Amazon Lending Library Reviews, Saints | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Blog at WordPress.com.