This 600 page apocalyptic novel has had a profound spiritual effect on me. Father Elijah: An Apocalypse is the story of Father Elijah Schafer—Polish Holocaust survivor, convert from Judaism, Carmelite Monk from a monastery in northern Israel—and is set in the near future. The author imagines what it would be like to be alive as the End Times approach. It’s worth quoting the author’s introduction at length:
“The reader will encounter here an apocalypse in the old literary sense, but one that was written in the light of Christian revelation. It is a speculation, a work of fiction. It does not attempt to predict certain details of the final Apocalypse so much as to ask how human personality would respond under conditions of intolerable tension, in a moral climate that grows steadily chillier, in a spiritual state of constantly shifting horizons. The near future holds for us many possible variations on the apocalyptic theme, some more dire than others. I have presented only one scenario. And yet, the central character is plunged into a dilemma that would face him in any apocalypse. He finds himself within the events that are unfolding, and thus he is faced with the problem of perception: how to see the hidden structure of his chaotic times, how to step outside it and to view it objectively while remaining within it as a participant, as an agent for the good….from Father Elijah: An Apocalypse, by Michael D. O’Brien
[This book does not ] offer simplistic resolutions and false piety. It offers the Cross. It bears witness, I hope, to the ultimate victory of light.”
Mr. O’Brien’s great skill is to make the unseen spiritual world accessible, and to make holiness attractive. After reading the novel, I find myself praying more and doing so more fervently.
I started Father Elijah in Israel a few weeks ago, and when I returned home, I found myself reading in bed, long after my family was asleep. As the novel approached its climax, I found myself unable to go to sleep, heart beating out of my chest.
And the last page of the novel? I was astounded when I read it.
Note on My Rating System
I use a 5 star system in my ratings to signify the following:
★★★★★ life-changing and unforgettable
★★★ worth reading
★★ read other things first
★ not recommended
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