Hot Best Seller

Father Elijah: An Apocalypse

Availability: Ready to download

Michael O'Brien presents a thrilling apocalyptic novel about the condition of the Roman Catholic Church at the end of time. It explores the state of the modern world, and the strengths and weaknesses of the contemporary religious scene, by taking his central character, Father Elijah Schäfer, a Carmelite priest, on a secret mission for the Vatican which embroils him in a se Michael O'Brien presents a thrilling apocalyptic novel about the condition of the Roman Catholic Church at the end of time. It explores the state of the modern world, and the strengths and weaknesses of the contemporary religious scene, by taking his central character, Father Elijah Schäfer, a Carmelite priest, on a secret mission for the Vatican which embroils him in a series of crises and subterfuges affecting the ultimate destiny of the Church. Father Elijah is a convert from Judaism, a survivor of the Holocaust, a man once powerful in Israel. For twenty years he has been "buried in the dark night of Carmel" on the mountain of the prophet Elijah. The Pope and the Cardinal Secretary of State call him out of obscurity and give him a task of the highest sensitivity: to penetrate into the inner circles of a man whom they believe may be the Antichrist. Their purpose: to call the Man of Sin to repentance, and thus to postpone the great tribulation long enough to preach the Gospel to the whole world. In this richly textured tale, Father Elijah crosses Europe and the Middle East, moves through the echelons of world power, meets saints and sinners, presidents, judges, mystics, embattled Catholic journalists, faithful priests and a conspiracy of traitors within the very House of God. This is an apocalypse in the old literary sense, but one that was written in the light of Christian revelation.


Compare

Michael O'Brien presents a thrilling apocalyptic novel about the condition of the Roman Catholic Church at the end of time. It explores the state of the modern world, and the strengths and weaknesses of the contemporary religious scene, by taking his central character, Father Elijah Schäfer, a Carmelite priest, on a secret mission for the Vatican which embroils him in a se Michael O'Brien presents a thrilling apocalyptic novel about the condition of the Roman Catholic Church at the end of time. It explores the state of the modern world, and the strengths and weaknesses of the contemporary religious scene, by taking his central character, Father Elijah Schäfer, a Carmelite priest, on a secret mission for the Vatican which embroils him in a series of crises and subterfuges affecting the ultimate destiny of the Church. Father Elijah is a convert from Judaism, a survivor of the Holocaust, a man once powerful in Israel. For twenty years he has been "buried in the dark night of Carmel" on the mountain of the prophet Elijah. The Pope and the Cardinal Secretary of State call him out of obscurity and give him a task of the highest sensitivity: to penetrate into the inner circles of a man whom they believe may be the Antichrist. Their purpose: to call the Man of Sin to repentance, and thus to postpone the great tribulation long enough to preach the Gospel to the whole world. In this richly textured tale, Father Elijah crosses Europe and the Middle East, moves through the echelons of world power, meets saints and sinners, presidents, judges, mystics, embattled Catholic journalists, faithful priests and a conspiracy of traitors within the very House of God. This is an apocalypse in the old literary sense, but one that was written in the light of Christian revelation.

30 review for Father Elijah: An Apocalypse

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rachel M

    This book established Michael O'Brien as one of my favorite Christian writers. This quote was he novel's response to the commonly asked question, "Why would a good God permit evil?" “The problem is not only one act of evil, but many such acts. Let us say, six million Jews and six million Gentile Poles, and tens of millions of others. That is just the Second World War. Let us say that our cosmic terrorist pushes harder and harder against the integrity of God. Let us say he uses a Stalin- now we a This book established Michael O'Brien as one of my favorite Christian writers. This quote was he novel's response to the commonly asked question, "Why would a good God permit evil?" “The problem is not only one act of evil, but many such acts. Let us say, six million Jews and six million Gentile Poles, and tens of millions of others. That is just the Second World War. Let us say that our cosmic terrorist pushes harder and harder against the integrity of God. Let us say he uses a Stalin- now we are considering perhaps fifty million, some say sixty million people, dead at the hands of this one tyrant. Should God destroy the moral structure of the Universe in order to save the physical universe? That would be a superficial defense and an ultimate self-defeat. Should He give in because of the quantity of the victims? “You are overstating the situation. I don’t see what you mean.” “It is something like this. Satan holds the chosen people hostage. He holds a gun to their heads and he says to God, ‘Well, aren’t you going to do something! Aren’t you going to stop me! Aren’t you going to break one of your own insignificant laws to save your darlings?’ God replies, ‘I will not break the laws I have written into creation, for that would bring a different kind of destruction for my beloved ones.’ “Satan answers, ‘All right, watch this!’ He squeezes and crushes and rips with his jaws until the chosen ones begin to cry out to their Creator, ‘Save us! Where are you? Why do you not come?’ Satan looks at God and says, ‘Well?’ But God is silent. He is so silent that the darkness seems to spread over the world. Satan believes he has forced God to back up. He has argued Him into helplessness. He thinks that God has nothing left to say. He thinks he has won the cosmic battle and has obtained power over God. He thinks himself above God. But all the while a tremendous thing is happening within the heart of God. But all the while a tremendous thing is happening within the heart of God. A Word begins to form. A Word that is so immense, so much larger than the entire created Universe, which rests like a golden apple in His hand. This Word is so fast, yet so simple, that none can hear it. Satan will not hear it; man cannot, for he has been deafened with the screams of his own agony. Matter itself can only feel it without knowing it. ‘I will go down into my own creation as once I did long ago, when I walked with Adam and Eve in the garden. As I did when I came to Jerusalem as a man. I will go down into my creation and I will suffer in it. I will suffer with it. And this shall be my Word as once it was My Word on Calvary.” –Chapter Seven

  2. 5 out of 5

    booklady

    I loved this story when I first read it back in 2018. It was my first encounter with this author and my only regret was that this was the second to last novel of the series. Had I known that, I would have read the others first. However, it was the freebie on Formed and I had seen the author’s books for years and was curious about him. Apocalyptic literature is not usually my favorite genre, but that didn’t seem to matter with this book. The writing is wonderful. I loved the Carmelite main charac I loved this story when I first read it back in 2018. It was my first encounter with this author and my only regret was that this was the second to last novel of the series. Had I known that, I would have read the others first. However, it was the freebie on Formed and I had seen the author’s books for years and was curious about him. Apocalyptic literature is not usually my favorite genre, but that didn’t seem to matter with this book. The writing is wonderful. I loved the Carmelite main character, Fr. Elijah, his English friend, Fr. Billy, the lawyer, Anna and the slow-fast pace of the story. It is rich in spiritual wisdom and wonderful dialogues to savor. (view spoiler)[The visit to the Virgin’s tomb near the end gave me goosebumps. (hide spoiler)] The second reading was even better since I understood so much more about Fr. David Schaeffer Elijah, his Polish background and its importance to everything which is happening to him. So you can read this book on its own, but it is so much better if you have read Sophia House first. On to, Elijah in Jerusalem.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Caterina

    ”Christ in Gethsemane,” Michael D. O’Brien An apocalypse is a work of literature dealing with the end of human history. For millennia, apocalypses of various sorts have arisen throughout the world in the cultural life of many peoples and religions. They are generated by philosophical speculations, by visions of the future, or by inarticulate longings and apprehensions, and not infrequently, by the abiding human passion for what J.R.R. Tolkien called subcreation. These poems, epics, fantasies, myt ”Christ in Gethsemane,” Michael D. O’Brien An apocalypse is a work of literature dealing with the end of human history. For millennia, apocalypses of various sorts have arisen throughout the world in the cultural life of many peoples and religions. They are generated by philosophical speculations, by visions of the future, or by inarticulate longings and apprehensions, and not infrequently, by the abiding human passion for what J.R.R. Tolkien called subcreation. These poems, epics, fantasies, myths, and prophetic works bear a common witness to man’s transient state upon the earth. Man is a stranger and sojourner. His existence is inexpressibly beautiful and dangerous. It is fraught with mysteries that beg to be deciphered. The Greek word apocalypsos means an uncovering or revealing. Through such revelations man gazes into the panorama of human history in search of the key to his identity; in search of permanence and completion. — from Michael D. O’Brien’s Introduction to this novel This moving apocalyptic journey was, to me, a love story. Friendship suffuses it — sometimes becoming sacrificial love — with nods to The Lord of the Rings. (It may also be inspired by Lord of the World which I haven’t read yet.) It was a joy to find a living novelist who treats the Catholic faith, the sacraments — and faithfulness itself — earnestly. I loved the way dreams, visions, angels are woven into the tale seamlessly. The audiobook — audio drama, really — by voice actor Kevin O’Brien — was phenomenal and addictive — even if the Polish-Israeli Father Elijah sounded a bit British and the President of the European Parliament sounded American. Overall, the novel is uneven, but powerful, redeeming its own flaws. I think it was O’Brien’s first novel. At times, the prose sings. The closest relationships -- Elijah’s friendships with his fellow priest Billy and the European Supreme Court Justice, Anna, come alive -- mostly through intimate conversations. Much of the novel is dialogue. A deathbed exchange with the infamous Count Smokrev is deeply moving — perhaps inspired by Dostoevsky. (view spoiler)[On the other hand, the book’s central confrontation between Elijah and the suave but murderous President seems clunky. Leading up to that watershed event, O’Brien let his hero struggle a bit with the world leader’s intellectual seduction, but I wondered whether there should have been more of a struggle. The second part of the novel is slower but more profound. In mourning, in hiding, seemingly unsuccessful in his mission, Elijah is brought up against Nothingness. I’m not sure I’ve ever read a descent into darkness so convincingly written. (Well maybe in O’Brien's fellow Irish Catholic Cormac McCarthy’s novels … ) Elijah's dark journey follows right on the heels of a wondrous archaeological discovery, a profound consolation and confirmation in faith. Why, Elijah wonders, do such consolations always fade, why are they never enough? What is it about human nature? Augustine once wondered the same. This is not the end, however. The novel’s conclusion creatively connects the title character with biblical stories of the Prophet Elijah’s desert experience, and the Book of Revelation, aka Apocalypse. (hide spoiler)] Caveat: (view spoiler)[One minor character gave me serious pause. A supposedly heroic American Catholic priest-journalist-editor gets in trouble for refusing to publish dissident opinions that he believes are not in keeping with the teachings of the Church. But the way he dismissed discussions of important issues bothered me. As just one example: Father Smith mocked calls for the Pope to apologize to people the Church has wronged. I don’t understand this. Saint John Paul II — seemingly the model for the nameless pope in this book — was famous for traveling all over the world and making apologies to many groups of people. Popes Benedict and Francis have followed in his footsteps. (hide spoiler)] I did not plan to read this book, but I’m glad I did, and definitely will read more of O’Brien’s works. My plan was actually to read first his Strangers and Sojourners which seemed to be calling to me. But while waiting for S&S to arrive in the mail I took an auditory “peek” at this book on the Formed.org app — and was hooked. __________________________ Image source: https://www.ncregister.com/interview/...

  4. 4 out of 5

    Christine Sunderland

    I read Father Elijah ten years ago, and recalled how refreshing it was to read a story set in the late 20th century that was infused with the sacramental acts of God. I also recalled not being able to put it down. Would the book be as I remembered? Could I add this to my gift list for friends and family? Would this help or hinder their belief in the Christian God of love? Our hero, Father Elijah, is a Carmelite monk, his past forged in the fires of brutal suffering. As David Schafer, a holocaust I read Father Elijah ten years ago, and recalled how refreshing it was to read a story set in the late 20th century that was infused with the sacramental acts of God. I also recalled not being able to put it down. Would the book be as I remembered? Could I add this to my gift list for friends and family? Would this help or hinder their belief in the Christian God of love? Our hero, Father Elijah, is a Carmelite monk, his past forged in the fires of brutal suffering. As David Schafer, a holocaust survivor and promising Israeli statesman-attorney, he experiences even more tragedy. But he finds redemption in Christianity, becoming a monk and priest. He takes the name Elijah and lives a life of prayer in a monastery near Jerusalem. As the story opens he is called out of his seclusion and into the world by the Pope. His mission? To convert the President of Europe, thought to be the Anti-Christ. Who could be better qualified for such a mission: A converted Jew pulled from the desert, a humble, prayerful soul who wrestles with God through the demons of his past, a man with a powerful intellect trained to argue and understand. The plot twists and turns with suspense, and Michael O'Brien's clean prose adds to the pace. Yet we slow down in passages that recall Dostoyevsky's Grand Inquisitor scene in The Brothers Karamazov (an apt epic comparison) and these dialogues, while heavier in style, are theologically rewarding. Possibly a challenge to modern readers, they are profound essays on God's redemptive purposes and worth the thoughtful pace. Along the way, the author has moments of rich poetry and profound metaphor, Scriptural allusions pulled together to form a whole, leaving the reader with glimpses of truth, as though windows suddenly open. He speaks of the power of God to work through lowly matter, through image and sacrament: (In the Eucharist) There had been a burst of ecstasy, a brief parting of the veil that separated the human from the divine, that line of division and union running inexorably through the center of the heart. He speaks of our broken world and the half-lies that twist our vision of reality, as good clashes with evil that is disguised as good, Unity (of the Church, the world) can be authentic only if it is founded upon truth. We cannot pretend that there are two conflicting truths, both of which are right. This is madness. It destroys . . . the human person. I thought that darkness had only one or two faces. It took me a long time to learn that it has many, and that its worst face masquerades as light. And of the nature of sin: Every sin is a choice to turn a miraculous being into an object for consumption. It flattens the human person, one's self and one's victim, into a one-dimensional universe. In every person's soul there is an icon of what he is meant to be. An image of Love is hidden there… Our sins and faults, and those committed against us, bury this original image. We can no longer see ourselves as we really are. Elijah's spiritual journey asks the big questions: Where was God during the Holocaust? What is truth? Are the Endtimes near? Indeed, twelve years after the publication of Father Elijah, it is chilling to see how our world mirrors the world described in this novel. Prophetic, to be sure, and as Elijah struggles with assassins and secrets and the demands of love, as he strives to win souls through logic and self-sacrifice, he glimpses darkness in his own heart: Before his eyes was the fundamental problem of his soul: he had been given everything and it did not suffice. And yet . . . the ancient scar of Adam within his nature dragged him inexorably back, again and again, to his desire for certainty . . . Not-knowing was the way to ultimate union with the Love whose embrace was the filling of every doubt, the binding up of all wounds. Characters, knowing and not-knowing, are sharply drawn: an old Franciscan with bleeding hands; a simple monk who is more than he seems; a lax priest who sacrifices all, a female judge who cannot believe. Scenes are vividly rendered as we climb to Tiberius' Leap on Capri, step back in time in the Warsaw ghetto, pray before the tomb of Saint Francis in Assisi, and walk the dark alleys of Rome and the bright halls of the Vatican. Father Elijah is not only a good story, laced with danger and death, of a humble priest meeting a formidable adversary. It is not only a prophetic warning and a celebration of weakness over strength, the small over the great. It is a journey of the soul, indeed, the reader's soul, in a quest for God, as the universal becomes the particular. The Apocalypse of Scripture (and the author knows his Scripture) becomes our own apocalypse, as we face our own numbered days. This novel is a deep examination of the heart of man, what he is made of, where he has been, where he is going, and most importantly, the map he needs to get there. I'm putting Father Elijah on my gift list. My precocious nephew and granddaughter, juniors in high school, as well as several adult friends, will not be able to put it down. And it might open their eyes to the past, the present, the future, and yes, the immense love of God. And I might even read Father Elijah a third time, and a fourth, and a fifth . . . to catch all the levels and allusions I missed. For more about Michael

  5. 5 out of 5

    J.B. Simmons

    This is a profound and impressive book. It is also quirky and, at times, challenging. The author knows this. At the beginning he warns the reader: "This book is a novel of ideas. It does not proceed at the addictive pace of a television micro-drama, nor does it offer simplistic resolutions and false piety. It offers the Cross. It bears witness, I hope, to the ultimate victory of light." That it does, and I'm glad to have read it. But the warning proves true. It's a long book, very heavy on dialog This is a profound and impressive book. It is also quirky and, at times, challenging. The author knows this. At the beginning he warns the reader: "This book is a novel of ideas. It does not proceed at the addictive pace of a television micro-drama, nor does it offer simplistic resolutions and false piety. It offers the Cross. It bears witness, I hope, to the ultimate victory of light." That it does, and I'm glad to have read it. But the warning proves true. It's a long book, very heavy on dialogue and light on action. The dialogue, while stiff and formal in places, is mostly rich and well done. It explores the most important themes of humanity, love, and faith. As a theological matter, the book is squarely Catholic. There are constant hints of mystical spiritual battles, from Satan to angels to Mary. Some of the most riveting plot lines involve the Pope and the politics of the Catholic Church. It's a fun glimpse into the Vatican. I recommend the book, because I recommend serious consideration of what the book addresses. If you're looking for cheap thrills, look elsewhere. If you're looking for clear conclusions, look elsewhere. But if you're looking for a profound and artistic study of the world nearing its end -- a book that will mesmerize and enchant and uplift -- you should read Father Elijah.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Stef

    gripping. i will remember this book on my deathbed. wish i hadn't waited so long to read it. and now I have to buy strangers and sojourners again (for some reason it bored me to death years ago when i tried to read it) along with the rest of the series. so much in this book. family, love, friendship, loss, spiritual warfare, answers to non believers' questions, the strange ways we meet each other and become part of each other's lives, etc. not as depressing as Lord of the World. gripping. i will remember this book on my deathbed. wish i hadn't waited so long to read it. and now I have to buy strangers and sojourners again (for some reason it bored me to death years ago when i tried to read it) along with the rest of the series. so much in this book. family, love, friendship, loss, spiritual warfare, answers to non believers' questions, the strange ways we meet each other and become part of each other's lives, etc. not as depressing as Lord of the World.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Manuel Alfonseca

    ENGLISH: As its title indicates, this is an apocalyptic novel, obviously influenced by "Lord of the World," by Robert Hugh Benson, which takes place around the same time (towards the millennium), but exhibits certain differences, due to the fact that that it has been written much closer to the time it is describing (it was published in 1996). It introduces a few contemporary elements, such as the Pope, evidently based on John Paul II, the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of t ENGLISH: As its title indicates, this is an apocalyptic novel, obviously influenced by "Lord of the World," by Robert Hugh Benson, which takes place around the same time (towards the millennium), but exhibits certain differences, due to the fact that that it has been written much closer to the time it is describing (it was published in 1996). It introduces a few contemporary elements, such as the Pope, evidently based on John Paul II, the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, obviously based on Ratzinger, and Don Matteo, clearly based on St. Pius of Pietrelcina (although this detail is willingly anachronistic, because St. Pio had died much earlier). Altogether, this novel must be considered in the genre of "alternative history," although rather than history, it is about an alternative present. In short, the situation described is this: What would have been the world of 1995, with an anti-Christ, a man possessed by the devil who would be willing to put an end to the Catholic Church, under the pretext of achieving world peace? If I had been in the author's place, I would have placed the plot about 20 years later, in 2015, when things could be thought to have changed somewhat, without changing too much. ESPAÑOL: Como su título indica, esta es una novela apocalíptica, obviamente influida por "Lord of the World" de Robert Hugh Benson, que tiene lugar más o menos por la misma época (hacia el milenio), pero que denota ciertas diferencias por el hecho de que ha sido escrita muucho más cerca de la época que describe (se publicó en 1996). Introduce algunos elementos contemporáneos, como el papa, evidentemente basado en Juan Pablo II, el cardenal Prefecto de la Congregación de la Doctrina de la Fe, obviamente basado en Ratzinger, y don Matteo, claramente basado en San Pío de Pietrelcina (aunque ese detalle sea anacrónico, porque San Pío había muerto mucho antes). En conjunto, esta novela debe considerarse perteneciente al género de la "historia alternativa", aunque más que historia trata de un presente alternativo. En resumen, la situación descrita es esta: ¿Cómo habría sido el mundo de 1995, si en él hubiera surgido un anti-Cristo, un hombre poseído por el demonio que estuviera dispuesto a terminar con la Iglesia Católica bajo el pretexto de conseguir la Paz Mundial? Si yo hubiera estado en el lugar del autor, habría situado la acción unos 20 años más tarde, hacia el 2015, cuando se podía pensar que habrían cambiado algo las cosas, aunque sin cambiarlas demasiado.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Regina Doman

    A great reflection on the Book of Revelation, but the "thriller" parts of the story are unbearably clunky, and the other two books in the series I've read, Stranger and Sojournerd and Eclipse of the Sun are worse in this regard. O'Brien is a brilliant storyteller but he should stick to slow-moving relationship plots (as he does wonderfully in Strangers and Sojourners) and steer clear of writing about car chases, tunnels under Vatican buildings, and black helicopters. A great reflection on the Book of Revelation, but the "thriller" parts of the story are unbearably clunky, and the other two books in the series I've read, Stranger and Sojournerd and Eclipse of the Sun are worse in this regard. O'Brien is a brilliant storyteller but he should stick to slow-moving relationship plots (as he does wonderfully in Strangers and Sojourners) and steer clear of writing about car chases, tunnels under Vatican buildings, and black helicopters.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Miller

    I first read this some twenty years ago. This time around I think I got much more out of it - pretty close to spiritual reading.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ann-Marie "Cookie M."

    I cannot finish this. I have tried. I have prayed about it and meditated on it prayerfully, but it is too distasteful and offensive. It starts out well, but ends up being a diatribe against anything modern or progressive in the Catholic Church. According to the premise of this book all of that comes from Satan. Liberal Catholicism is evil. It is one with New Age mysticism. Never mind that the church itself has had, and still does have mystics. I have a sister who embraces this school of thought I cannot finish this. I have tried. I have prayed about it and meditated on it prayerfully, but it is too distasteful and offensive. It starts out well, but ends up being a diatribe against anything modern or progressive in the Catholic Church. According to the premise of this book all of that comes from Satan. Liberal Catholicism is evil. It is one with New Age mysticism. Never mind that the church itself has had, and still does have mystics. I have a sister who embraces this school of thought. Just, no.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Joanna

    This was an awesome adventure and a great thriller. I had no idea that so much WWII/Holocaust history would be involved, and it was a great background to the story. It's also inspired me to pray more, which is powerful. I am kind of sad that the ending left off where it did because I wanted to follow through with everything until the actual very end! but it was, all in all, a very satisfying read! I definitely want to read more of O'Brien's stories. Also I know it says "book 4" but this is the fi This was an awesome adventure and a great thriller. I had no idea that so much WWII/Holocaust history would be involved, and it was a great background to the story. It's also inspired me to pray more, which is powerful. I am kind of sad that the ending left off where it did because I wanted to follow through with everything until the actual very end! but it was, all in all, a very satisfying read! I definitely want to read more of O'Brien's stories. Also I know it says "book 4" but this is the first one I read and it worked out great, I think.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    I have been meaning to read this book for several years. I like stories about the Apocalypse: don't ask me why since they tend to scare the crap out of me. We can file this one under Catholic Armageddon stories (much like Pierced By a Sword), a sub-genre of Christian Apocalyptic fiction in general (like the dreadfully written Left Behind books). This particular book was well written and fast-paced, for the most part, with a few rather long (and slightly dry) patches of dialogue thrown in. Essenti I have been meaning to read this book for several years. I like stories about the Apocalypse: don't ask me why since they tend to scare the crap out of me. We can file this one under Catholic Armageddon stories (much like Pierced By a Sword), a sub-genre of Christian Apocalyptic fiction in general (like the dreadfully written Left Behind books). This particular book was well written and fast-paced, for the most part, with a few rather long (and slightly dry) patches of dialogue thrown in. Essentially, it is a story of the rise of the Antichrist, and the response of the Roman Catholic Church to what's been predicted in the Book of Revelations. The titular Fr. Elijah is a survivor of the concentrations camps, a former politician in Israel, and a convert to the Catholic faith who spends twenty year of his life in a monastery in Haifa. Called by the Pope (a thinly veiled JPII) to try and stop the rise of an incredibly powerful European politician, Fr. Elijah must face his own dark past even as the forces of the Antichrist begin to assail him and those around him. This is not a horror novel; it's a book spiritual warfare and orthodox Catholicism. I found it hard to put down, for the most part. One character is much like the famous Franciscan Padre Pio; another is Cardinal Ratzinger (who is now Pope Benedict!) The author did a good job including 'the signs of the times,' and made evil quite realistic: a persistent whisper rather than a full-throated scream. I liked this a great deal. I will read more from this author.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    This book tells the story of a Catholic monk who is called from the quiet of his monastic life to aid the Church(and the world) in the final days. There is intrigue and mystery involving the Vatican and a world leader who is the Antichrist. I finished reading this novel well over a month ago but haven't reviewed it at all because I just didn't know how to articulate my disappointment. Unfortunately, I still don't exactly know how to explain my distaste for this book especially in the face of so This book tells the story of a Catholic monk who is called from the quiet of his monastic life to aid the Church(and the world) in the final days. There is intrigue and mystery involving the Vatican and a world leader who is the Antichrist. I finished reading this novel well over a month ago but haven't reviewed it at all because I just didn't know how to articulate my disappointment. Unfortunately, I still don't exactly know how to explain my distaste for this book especially in the face of so many people who give it such glowing reviews.However, I am never one to pass up an opportunity to give my opinion(FWIW) so here goes. The problem I had with this book is that it felt...muddled. I found that I just didn't care about the story, I had no emotion invested in the plot or the characters. It was like inflating an air mattress with a small leak. It starts to look like you are getting somewhere but then it just flattens out again and frustration sets in. The fact I actually finished the book means either I was so driven by hope that I held out for something to like or I am a glutton for punishment. I read it all the way to the lackluster end. I have heard many people sing the praises of author Michael O'Brien so I will not give up on him just because of this book. But I cannot think of any reason to recommend this particular book of his to anyone.

  14. 4 out of 5

    James

    I could hardly put this book down. O'Brien runs circles around other authors of similar subjects. Most other end-times novels are written promoting the pre-millenial Rapture and the aftermath during the Tribulation, culminating in the pre-Millenial return of Christ. Often they read like they just copy one another, and are more interested in telling there own pet theories than in telling a story. Father Elijah is compelling, written at above an 8th-grade reading level. It is heavy on theology, phi I could hardly put this book down. O'Brien runs circles around other authors of similar subjects. Most other end-times novels are written promoting the pre-millenial Rapture and the aftermath during the Tribulation, culminating in the pre-Millenial return of Christ. Often they read like they just copy one another, and are more interested in telling there own pet theories than in telling a story. Father Elijah is compelling, written at above an 8th-grade reading level. It is heavy on theology, philosophy, and Catholic doctrine. Truly an exceptional work. The book was written back in 1996, before the 9/11 disaster, but is amazing how prophetic this book is. Much of what is presented is actually taking place right now. It's only flaw is that it is a little dated. It could never happen today exactly as presented, because the protagonist, a holocaust survivor, would now be too old to fit in the historical timeline, and still be a present-day character.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Marie

    It has been a long time since I read an almost-600 page novel in a matter of days. This was a really entrancing book. The characters were engaging, the plot enticing, and the spirituality instructive. It was the sort of book where the very ending was just a tad disappointing because the real ending has to be written in one's life; a literary conclusion just can't do it. A friend recommended me to read this book, and I'm very glad she did. It was a rare combination of exciting and valuable. I can It has been a long time since I read an almost-600 page novel in a matter of days. This was a really entrancing book. The characters were engaging, the plot enticing, and the spirituality instructive. It was the sort of book where the very ending was just a tad disappointing because the real ending has to be written in one's life; a literary conclusion just can't do it. A friend recommended me to read this book, and I'm very glad she did. It was a rare combination of exciting and valuable. I can only imagine how an anti-Catholic reader might take it, though...

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mimi

    Oh, Michael O'Brien - I do so dearly wish that you didn't have the internal struggle between loving Russian spirituality and thinking that the Orthodox and Catholics need to unite, it results in such a weird tone. Having said that, it was an interesting story about the rise of the anti-Christ, though with a wonderful lead character that I greatly enjoyed. I'm not a huge fan of spy novels and double crossing, but felt that it was done well. Oh, Michael O'Brien - I do so dearly wish that you didn't have the internal struggle between loving Russian spirituality and thinking that the Orthodox and Catholics need to unite, it results in such a weird tone. Having said that, it was an interesting story about the rise of the anti-Christ, though with a wonderful lead character that I greatly enjoyed. I'm not a huge fan of spy novels and double crossing, but felt that it was done well.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Dave Law

    One of the finest Catholic novels ever written. As serious literature it doesn't get much better than this. One of the finest Catholic novels ever written. As serious literature it doesn't get much better than this.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Thadeus

    Stirring. Intriguing. Mysterious. Adventuresome. Spiritual. These are some of the words that I would use to describe a spell-binding novel by O’Brien. I had heard good things about his writing, and I was not disappointed! I was drawn in by the story, the characters, and the suspense. The story, set in late 20th century Italy, follows Father Elijah’s path which starts as a monk in a monastery, and moves to him being called to serve as an envoy of the Vatican to the European president, who appears Stirring. Intriguing. Mysterious. Adventuresome. Spiritual. These are some of the words that I would use to describe a spell-binding novel by O’Brien. I had heard good things about his writing, and I was not disappointed! I was drawn in by the story, the characters, and the suspense. The story, set in late 20th century Italy, follows Father Elijah’s path which starts as a monk in a monastery, and moves to him being called to serve as an envoy of the Vatican to the European president, who appears to have much worldly power. The President has been stirring dissent in the Roman Catholic Church via his ongoing connection with a Cardinal Vettore. It is the age-old struggle of the importance of man versus the importance of God. Those who would believe that men can be gods are always attempting to subvert the people who claim God as sovereign, and the only one to be worshiped. I found the writing to be excellent, and not only did I enjoy the story, but I also appreciated the detailed treatment of many different people’s spiritual lives and actions and their meanings. Truly a powerful story that can also contribute to your spiritual growth. Highly recommended!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ian

    The Canadian author Michael D. O'Brien is probably one of the best kept secrets in contemporary literature. This is quite a little book -- I did not devour it quite as avidly as The Father's Tale, and it's a little talky at points. Unlike TFT, which is firmly in the Russian tradition, this novel seems to gravitate more to Chesterton or Graham Greene's influence, where O'Brien is not his strongest; nevertheless, the artistry, spiritual insight, and characters of this novel are unforgettable, and The Canadian author Michael D. O'Brien is probably one of the best kept secrets in contemporary literature. This is quite a little book -- I did not devour it quite as avidly as The Father's Tale, and it's a little talky at points. Unlike TFT, which is firmly in the Russian tradition, this novel seems to gravitate more to Chesterton or Graham Greene's influence, where O'Brien is not his strongest; nevertheless, the artistry, spiritual insight, and characters of this novel are unforgettable, and ought to earn O'Brien a place in the ranks of the great spiritual literature of our century, alongside Tolkien, Lewis, Percy, and others.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Betsy

    This is an incredible book by Michael O'Brien about the anti-christ. While the book is fiction, it gives a credible account about how the Apocolypse might happen. O'Brien, a native Canadian, was inspired to write this book when the government of Canada was passing un-Godly legislation. The author was praying infront of the Blessed Sacrament and in his despair was asking God how He could abandon Canada, when there were so many devout Catholics there. God's reply was the inspired story of Father E This is an incredible book by Michael O'Brien about the anti-christ. While the book is fiction, it gives a credible account about how the Apocolypse might happen. O'Brien, a native Canadian, was inspired to write this book when the government of Canada was passing un-Godly legislation. The author was praying infront of the Blessed Sacrament and in his despair was asking God how He could abandon Canada, when there were so many devout Catholics there. God's reply was the inspired story of Father Elijah.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jim Corcoran

    This book is a good page-turner at face level, but under its thriller veneer attempts something a little scary. The Church is huge. 1.2 billion members. With that size will come a plurality of opinions. This book seems to present people who ask questions as dangerous. The Church needs a dose of feminism to keep it sane on earth. The Church needs dissenting opinions to initiate meaningful dialogue. The Church needs doubt to lead us to a more adult, well-thought belief in God. They are not crimes, This book is a good page-turner at face level, but under its thriller veneer attempts something a little scary. The Church is huge. 1.2 billion members. With that size will come a plurality of opinions. This book seems to present people who ask questions as dangerous. The Church needs a dose of feminism to keep it sane on earth. The Church needs dissenting opinions to initiate meaningful dialogue. The Church needs doubt to lead us to a more adult, well-thought belief in God. They are not crimes, but blessings from a God who gave us freedom.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Janice

    Very reminiscent of Lord of the World by Msgr. Robert Hugh Benson

  23. 4 out of 5

    Joyce

    One of my favorite books of all time. I read it a few years ago, and still think of it often, especially as I see history unfolding before my eyes today. I plan to re-read it, next time with my husband. I would highly recommend it. I am not a Catholic, but as a believer, i appreciated the book from a Biblical perspective.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Marlene

    Thank you, AOS! I am so glad I was able to read this book during Lent. :)

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mackenzie Young

    The action in the last quarter of the book redeemed my rating from 3 stars to 4. Michael O’Brien’s writing style remains difficult for me (specifically in how he handles dialogue) and his phenomenal characterization was lost throughout most of this book. The action driving the plot was engaging and some moments left me breathless. Yet, his titular character was difficult to empathize with and seemed almost super-human, simply on the merit of his own priesthood - an idea antithetical to the book’ The action in the last quarter of the book redeemed my rating from 3 stars to 4. Michael O’Brien’s writing style remains difficult for me (specifically in how he handles dialogue) and his phenomenal characterization was lost throughout most of this book. The action driving the plot was engaging and some moments left me breathless. Yet, his titular character was difficult to empathize with and seemed almost super-human, simply on the merit of his own priesthood - an idea antithetical to the book’s main premise. Worth the read, simply for the new-to-me genre of Catholic espionage.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Storch

    Elegant in style, and paced perfectly, this book illuminated not only my intellect, but my prayer as well. O’Brien is a true master, and I couldn’t put this down. Speaks into the reality of human weakness like none other I’ve ever experienced. Prepare to have your heart dislodged then placed back again in new and enlightened form. Christianity isn’t an adventure you say? Lastly, Heaven is not silent.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Erin Farrell

    i’m not even sure what there is to say. a truly remarkable novel. it has consumed my heart with a fire that does not burn, not really. i want to be this little dove, to follow this little way, to believe everything—entirely and without fear. my soul is ignited and i am filled with gratitude for anyone who has ever recommended this novel to me.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Leslie Moellering

    Really enjoyed this novel and the Ignatius audio version is extremely well read. Very enjoyable.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Alvaro Hu

    Really a phenomenal book. Usually with these books with religious themes and undertones, I have a hard time reading them with the same vigor as a regular fictional book, but this book was so enthralling that I almost didn't notice it was based on Biblical prophecy. The author creates a world of intrigue and subterfuge, never knowing whether or not the evils are supernatural or just the evils of mankind. Or whether or not they're one and the same? Really a phenomenal book. Usually with these books with religious themes and undertones, I have a hard time reading them with the same vigor as a regular fictional book, but this book was so enthralling that I almost didn't notice it was based on Biblical prophecy. The author creates a world of intrigue and subterfuge, never knowing whether or not the evils are supernatural or just the evils of mankind. Or whether or not they're one and the same?

  30. 4 out of 5

    Luke Eshleman

    I am grasping for words to adequately acclaim the spiritual, theological, and literary brilliance of this novel. Though the dialogue may occasionally strike some as overly didactic or conservative, both the plot and its long, discursive detours are enveloped in rich biblical and apocalyptic symbolism, deep spiritual insights, nuanced political commentary, and, perhaps more than anything else, complex, if challenging, reflections on theodicy and the mission of the Church. This book is unabashedly I am grasping for words to adequately acclaim the spiritual, theological, and literary brilliance of this novel. Though the dialogue may occasionally strike some as overly didactic or conservative, both the plot and its long, discursive detours are enveloped in rich biblical and apocalyptic symbolism, deep spiritual insights, nuanced political commentary, and, perhaps more than anything else, complex, if challenging, reflections on theodicy and the mission of the Church. This book is unabashedly Catholic, though the astute reader will also discern the subtle influence of Eastern Orthodox spirituality and rabbinical Judaism. As an increasingly disillusioned Protestant, this was an especially refreshing frame of reference. In biblical literature, especially the Gospels and the apocalyptic genre, but also throughout the Old Testament and the TaNaK, the question of evil and suffering (especially in relation to theodicy) is indecipherable without a full apprection of the so-called "unseen realm" (see Michael S. Heiser) beyond the surface materiality of earthly existence. Satan, demons, the serpant of Genesis, the Accuser of Job, the lesser gods or elohim of the divine council (Ps 82), and the symbiotic relationship between of the two beasts and the dragon of Revelation comprise an entire world within the biblical canon that gives context, as well as nuance, to the problem of suffering and evil that contuously unfolds on the world stage. O'Brien masterfully employs this biblical leitmotif through the lens of Catholic Tradition, and, in so doing, invests the historical, material and political world with revelatory meaning and significance without suppressing the existential terror of human pain and injustice. I read this book at the dawn of 2021, almost a year into a global pandemic, following a summer of hideous racial injustice, the murder of George Floyd, large scale protests, uprisings, and civil unrest, the Trump presidency, and the right wing, white supremacist surge of the U.S. capitol building. As O'Brien correctly notes in the preface, however, "apocalypse" simply means "unveiling" or "revelation" rather than the catastrophic end of the world. In the book of Revelation, the figuratively short time frame (3 1/2 years; 1,260 days) symbolizes the entire expanse of time between Jesus' ascension and return. Despite the literalistic readings of the Left Behind series and dispensationalism, Revelation is a call to faithful, nonviolent witness right now, in whatever particular time and space one finds oneself. While the novel depicts a time in which the return of the Son of Man is at hand, the thrust of the narrative, like Revelation, suggests that the actual time of the Parousia is irrelevant; what matters is mission and witness in the time that remains: "The apocalypse is not melodrama. If it were, most people would wake up and see the danger they are in. That is our real peril. Our own times, no matter how troubled they may be, are our idea of what is real. It is almost impossible to step outside of it in order to see it for what it is.”.... "The living apocalypse radiates a sense of normality. We are inside it" (145). Like most apocalyptic literature, O'Brien's narrative world is invested with cosmic good and evil forces, which interact with individual and corporate realities, constantly tugging and pulling, vying for attention and allegiance. The interior world of the mind and the soul is not, however, divorced from the pain of the body, the lived, corporate reality of the world, or the political structures that frame our present social realities. The main character, Father Elijah, is at war (nonviolently) with the diabolical forces of evil as well as real, material, and socio-political structures. This war takes places within his own "interior castle," to quote Teresa of of Ávila, as much as it also unfolds within and against the political forces of "structural sin," as in liberation theology. Both individuals and corporate structures, however, can become captive and enslaved to larger, often unseen, diabolical forces. For Elijah, a former Jew and a Holocaust or Shoah survivor, the key to liberation, in Christ, is the transformation of pain, anger, and hatred into a faith, hope, and love that actively participates in, rather than evades, Jesus' suffering. Elijah, we are told, was once a man of power, a militant and then a lawyer and a politician in Israel. After losing his entire family in the Shoah, he embraced political power as a means of tranforming society for the better, only to find that he, like Hilter and the Nazis, was instead being transformed, negatively, by the diabolical deceit of power, primarily through the occupation of Palestine: "I saw that we were doing some of the things that had been done to us by the Hitlerites. There were violations of human rights committed by our own people. I had turned a blind eye to it. I had begun to excuse the inexcusable—in the name of a just cause” (62). Later, Elijah loses his beloved wife, who was with child, to a roadside bomb, presumably set off by a Palestinian. Elijah eventually converts from Judaism to Catholicism and begins the long, hard journey of inner transformation, which is expressed externally in acts of love and reconciliation with enemies and the proclaimation of Jesus as the cosmic king, despite the false promises of earthly, political power and liberation. Healing and transformation, both individually and corporately, only comes through the portal of suffering, exemplified in the cross: “Anger is an emotion, Father”, said Elijah. “It can rise up in us for legitimate reasons. The sin is only in the will. What do we choose to do with our anger? We must convert these feelings. Pray for our enemies. Suffer in silence. When the time comes, you will speak the truth before your accusers, but you must do it without rancor. Offer your sufferings to the Lord. He will use them as a powerful weapon to confound the devices of the enemy. Believe in the ultimate victory, and then your pain will become joy” (447) Or: - “Do you see these wounds? These bruises?” - “Yes.” - “They are my joy.” - “Pain is your joy?” - “The pain in itself is not joy. It is simply pain. But the meaning of the pain, that is joy" (100). O'Brien's narrative does not excuse or explain suffering and evil, but, through the unveiling of cosmic forces, depicted in visions, dreams, and the wounds of deep psychological traumas, much like the book of Job, he reinforces the neccisity of obedience and faithfulness to the way of Jesus. Just as Jesus suffered at the hands of ruthless political power, enslaved to the Satanic forces of Death, and then was vindicated and raised from the dead, so too must we, as the Church, reject the violence and will to power of the world, even, if necessary, unto death, knowing and trusting that God will one day vindicate and raise the faithful, bringing the justice of heaven down to earth in judgment and salvation. Elijah's journey is not without sincere struggles, doubts, and immense pain; his journey is authentic and real, and, consequently, his unification with Jesus, in his suffering, is all the more remarkable. He is a model for us, the readers, to embark on a similar journey, in our own space and time, within the apocalypse, as we witness before a violent and broken world to the peace of Jesus, our King and Savior. As my esteemed New Testament professor Dr. Michael J. Gorman likes to say, "The cross is not only the source but also the shape of our salvation" (Gorman, Participating in Christ, 11). Rowan Williams, in the Wound of Knowledge says much the same: "If we believe we can experience our healing without deepening our hurt, we have understood nothing of the roots of our faith. Jesus' obedience in the circumstances of his earthly life, in temptation and fear, "with loud cries and tears" (Heb 5:7), is what opens the long-closed door between God and our hearts, and, although that door is now decisively open, all must still pass through it to make the reconciliation their own. They must now "obey" Christ, surrender to the pattern of his sacrificial torment and death - not in some kind of constructed self-immolation, but in response to the trials encountered simply in living as a believer, living in the insecurities of faith, "the conviction of things not seen." It is an acceptance of the hidden God and his strange work, the God who is only attained through stripping and the purgation of his "consuming fire" (Heb 12:27). We go to him, as did the saints of the old covenant, by going out-out of the camp, out of the city (Heb. 13:12-14), beyond the settled and the ordered, to the place where Jesus died in his night, his desert. The desire to be in God's image without attaining Christ's image is a desire for immediacy, which wants everything without detour and without self-actualization, a narcissistic desire of the ego to settle down in God, immortal and almighty, that doesn't find it necessary "to let its life be crucified" and to experience the night of pain." (Williams, The Wound of Knowledge, 20-21)

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...