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Thursday, 1 December 2022

Insights - Peter Haverty

Insights 
Peter Haverty
ISBN 9781955809177
eISBN 9781955809184
ASIN B097Z3V3GQ


This book came highly recommended to me. I am not sure if I read a review or someone reading it mentioned it. I admit the book was a bit of a struggle for me. It took some real effort to not have it end up on my ‘did not finish’ pile. I am not sure if it is the style or the content but I had to work at this book. The description of the volume is:

“My first attempt at writing was based on the fact that I had collected over the years about 500 quotations from Catholic spiritual authors and I selected about 20 of these which I classified as "Insights". I printed them off in a hurry because I thought I was going to die in an impending operation. For a long time while preaching I had decided that to win a hearing from the congregation any discourse needs an arresting mother-idea or insight.

On recovering, I thought I could make it into a decent-sized book by adding on some 20 meditations on the topics following the sequence I use for a retreat. This part constitutes Part Two of the present proposed book.

The style of English corresponds, I suppose to what was current in the 1950's. Although over the years I have tended to preach in a controversial way.”

The sections and chapters in the book are:

Acknowledgments
More Insights
Nature
Grace
Original Sin
Transcendental Order

Part I
Chapter 1 God
Chapter 2 Jesus Christ
Chapter 3

Part II
First Step: Creation And Fall
The Devil’s Temptation Of Eve
Consequences Of The Fall
Effect Of The Consequences Of Original Sin
God’s Plan Of Redemption
The Narrow Gate
Divine Filiation
Hope Of Becoming Saints
Sin And Lukewarmness
Confession
The Last Things
The Last Supper: The New Commandment
The Passion And Death Of Our Lord Jesus Christ
The Glorious Resurrection Of Our Lord Jesus Christ
The Ascension Of Our Lord And The Coming Of The Holy Spirit
Suggestion For New Back Outer Cover Words

We are informed that:

“This edition is an expansion of the original booklet of ‘Insights’ produced in 2006, consisting of a collection of philosophical observations of the basic tenets of Christianity. These additional reflections are intended to provide the basis for meditations which could be used as the background to a retreat.”

And about the author:

“Peter Haverty joined Opus Dei in 1955 having previously been a student in the Men’s Residence, ‘Netherhall’, in London. He studied Chemical Engineering at Imperial College followed by a Graduate Apprenticeship and qualified as a Mechanical Engineer in 1957. 

In 1985, he went to Rome and attended the Lateran University obtaining his doctorate in Philosophy in 1961. During this period, he lived in the Opus Dei Headquarters in Rome, frequently meeting the Founder, St Josemaría Escrivá.

Fr Haverty was ordained by Blessed José María García Lahiguera on 5th August 1962. 

After spending a further year in Spain, he returned to England where his priestly and pastoral ministry has been carried on in London and latterly in Manchester where he how resides.”

A sample insight is:

THE NARROW GATE
In the Gospel of St Matthew, it says ‘Make your way in by the narrow gate. It is a broad gate and a wide road that leads to perdition, and those who go in that way are many indeed; but how small is the gate, how narrow the road that leads on to life, and how few there are that find it!’ (Mt 7:13).

These words give us a lot of food for thought. Of course, it leads to a great deal of speculation about how many will be saved; a number which I am sure Our Lord would say is known only by His Father. When we look around us today and see the sins being committed and very serious sins, so many abortions, so much overt sexuality, hedonism is rife, and abuse of children, which Our Lord said would be punished by tying a millstone round the neck of the perpetrators. The mind boggles; and yet on the other hand we know how loving and forgiving Our Lord is, and how many come back to Him with repentance. A few years ago, we celebrated the Jubilee Year of Divine Mercy and the Pope spoke a great deal about it. Pope St John Paul II wrote his second Encyclical about Mercy in ‘Dives in Misericordia’. This in turn was quite probably inspired by the communications of St Faustina Kowalska about this time of mercy in the life of the Church. Saint Josemaría was quite probably influenced by another holy nun, Madre Esperanza del Amor Misericordioso (Alhama Valero), foundress of the Slaves of Merciful Love, and promoter of the devotion to the Merciful Love of Jesus. Her Congregation was approved by the Sacred Congregation of Religious in 1949 and received the Decretum Laudis in 1970. She constructed the Shrine of Merciful Love in Collevalenza, which was visited by Pope St John Paul II in 1981. All of which leads us to take a more optimistic view of the outcome of those to be judged on departing this life.

But now, what do we reckon is this narrow gate? Briefly, I think it means the pains and sufferings of this present life. St John of the Cross says quite simply that it is the Cross of Our Lord. I feel sure he is not using the words of the precious Gospel just that we can amuse ourselves speculating about how many will go to heaven and how many will go to hell. It is, in effect, a complete waste of time for us to bother our heads about that. He is teaching us, as usual, about a very practical thing which is our attitude once more in approaching our spiritual life. In this case, our approach to the trials, difficulties and sufferings of life because, so frequently, we shy away from them and choose the easy way out. No matter who we are, rich or poor, no matter what age we are, young or old, we all have to suffer. In the Book of Genesis, after the Fall, the dire predictions of God, as a consequence of sin, are directed to the human race universally, without any exceptions whatsoever. God subjects each one of us to trials or tests of our faith and trust in Him. Are we going to be like our first parents, or are we going to be like our Saviour Jesus Christ, and His loving Mother Mary who is our Mother too? Adam and Eve failed and disobeyed God, Jesus and Mary overcame all the difficulties and came through triumphant.

We have to acknowledge that there is a difference between Jesus and us. He is God after all, but it is also true that He fought the good fight in His human nature. And, if we want take an example of someone who has only a human nature and is not God, we have Our Lady. Then, again, we have a whole army of Saints in Heaven who are a wonderful example for us and who were exactly the same as we are in every respect and quite a number of them followed a path which was leading to perdition until they came to their senses and repented of their foolish and evil ways. In this, as always, we have to choose which way we are going to travel the path of life. When Our Lord says ‘make your way in the narrow gate’, he is in effect saying: ‘embrace the Cross’. It is what He said on another occasion: ‘if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me’ (Lk 9:23). But will we?

One of our problems is self-pity. The cross comes in the shape of a great pile of work which tires us out. Or it could be we receive some very sad news which makes us depressed. Somebody we were relying on to help us in our work and other difficulties leaves us abandoned. And what do we say? We say I have suffered enough and switch on the television, or pick up the newspaper, and avoid the cross.

In my opinion, this has a great deal to do with surprise. It seems to us that the extra amount of work which we weren’t expecting is like the last straw which broke the camel’s back, it is too much. Now this, in turn, is because of our failure to be prepared.

Our Lord gives us all these sayings and recommendations in the Holy Gospel and on top of that presents us with Himself, a portrait in pain, on the Cross, in the hope that the message will penetrate - we have to embrace His Holy Cross, so that when the time comes we will accept it generously. In other words, we have to cultivate in our hearts a love of the Holy Cross of Jesus. St Josemaría was well aware of this and encouraged us to meditate on the Cross. There is that interesting point in The Way which speaks about the cross without its crucified:

‘When you see a poor wooden Cross, alone, uncared for and of no value... and without its Crucified, don’t forget that that Cross is your Cross: the Cross of each day, the hidden Cross, without splendour or consolation..., which is awaiting the Crucified it lacks: and that Crucified must be you’. (The Way, no. 178)

St Josemaría, as we know, had a Cross without a figure on it, placed at the entrance of the oratories of the centres of Opus Dei to remind people of this. In addition, as we know, also in the early days of his ministry with young people he came in contact with, he would insist that they carry a crucifix around with them. When he attended his first circle (a ‘circle’ is a class of spiritual and doctrinal formation which Opus Dei offers to people) in Barcelona in 1939, Rafael Termes tells of how St Josemaría asked him if he had a crucifix and when he said he hadn’t, St Josemaría said to Isidoro, one of the first members of Opus Dei (I think it was Isidoro Zorzano who accompanied him on that occasion) ‘you give your crucifix to Rafael, we can get another one for you when we get back to Madrid’. This tells how much it meant to St Josemaría that we all have a crucifix with us all the time. In this way also we are able to kiss it when things get hard. And what is the idea of all this? Well, to be prepared of course, for when we reject the Cross, that is, fail to enter through the narrow gate. That’s because the difficulties, the bereavement, the financial loss, the extra burden of work, came upon us all of a sudden. We were taken by surprise and reacted primo primi with an instinctive, animal-like reaction, and threw it away. The opportunity was lost. One of the things I learnt in hospital was that just as the joys and the perks of life come and go very quickly, so do the pains and sorrows. And what happens is that we miss out on golden opportunities to offer sacrifices to God. No sooner does the pain begin, then it disappears. I am not saying that things like arthritis, sciatica or lumbago, disappear quickly, but most set-backs, sorrows and disappointments do. This means that in our nightly moment of examination of conscience it is sometimes a good idea to look back over the day and ask ourselves about the difficulties and pains of the day to find out if we offered them up. They are like caresses from Our Lord. On the day Pope St John Paul II was shot, and he was in hospital, Blessed Alvaro went to visit him and said to the Pope, that he considered the incident had been like a caress from Our Lady, and the Pope said, ‘that was just what I was thinking myself’!

When we mention St John Paul II, it brings to mind his total acceptance of the Cross in his final illness when he was afflicted with Parkinson’s disease and accepted all the discomfort and pains that went with it. What was it that enabled him to accept it all? I am sure that it was voluntary mortification which he practised throughout his long life. A lot of people know, but for those who don’t, it helps to remember one of his first trips abroad to the Philippines. It happened that in the convent he was to stay they needed extra staff to help the nuns to prepare things for the Holy Father and the entourage. Well, I have it on good authority that a number of women members of Opus Dei were brought in to help out and because they had not had time to clean the whole house, they thought they would leave the chapel to the end when everybody has gone to bed. But when they went back to the chapel at midnight, they found the Pope on the floor of the chapel with his arms outstretched, praying! And this was after a long and tiring flight across the world. Of course, I am not suggesting you or I take these extreme measures, but we can at least take note, make some examination of how ready we are for sacrifice and mortification in imitation of Our Lord and his Saints.”

These insights are intended that they can be used for retreat. Maybe delivered as talks my experience would have been different. There is some excellent material in these Insights. But I struggled with read the book. The material is more than worth the effort and I can easily recommend the book.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan

Books by Peter Haverty:
Only God Can Be Proved To Exist By Reason



Wednesday, 30 November 2022

Room One A Mystery or Two - Andrew Clements

Room One A Mystery or Two 
Andrew Clements
ISBN 9780689866876
eISBN 9781442462250
ASIN B007108YNW


Six years ago, I discovered the works of Andrew Clements. I was instantly hooked and have now read 20 books by him. Many consider him the ‘master of school stories’, and I would agree. I have a dual form of dyslexia and did not learn to read until after grade 7. So I never read ‘school stories’ when I was young. That combined with having my own school aged children has instilled a great appreciation for the genre and specifically for the works of Andrew Clements. Clements passed away in 2019 his last novel was The Friendship War, which is an excellent volume. Around the time I discovered Clements works I also encountered Chris d’Lacey both write amazing stories for children, but they are also stories that any of us can learn from. Back then I set the goal of reading all of their works, but as my own children have grown these books had slid by the way side. I have now returned to them yet again. This story has inspired me to recommit to that goal.

I had no idea what this book was about when I picked it up. I grabbed it based on the author and title alone. The cover grabbed my interest as well. It was an interesting read and one of my favorites of all his books I have read. It is an excellent read. The description of the book states:

“Ted Hammond learns that in a very small town, there's no such thing as an isolated event. And the solution of one mystery is often the beginning of another.

Ted Hammond loves a good mystery, and in the spring of his fifth-grade year, he's working on a big one. How can his school in the little town of Plattsford stay open next year if there are going to be only five students? Out here on the Great Plains in western Nebraska, everyone understands that if you lose the school, you lose the town.

     But the mystery that has Ted's full attention at the moment is about that face, the face he sees in the upper window of the Andersons' house as he rides past on his paper route. The Andersons moved away two years ago, and their old farmhouse is empty, boarded up tight. At least it's supposed to be.

     A shrinking school in a dying town. A face in the window of an empty house. At first these facts don't seem to be related. But...”

Ted is a good kid, and he is trying to do the right thing. The importance and weight of promises plans a key role in this story. For example:

“Ted had reached the kitchen porch. He pushed all the fears out of his mind and pulled himself back to reality. Because whatever else was going on at this house, he’d made a promise. He had promised a girl that he’d bring her some food. And he was going to keep that promise.”

“Ted thought, I can’t lie to Mrs. Mitchell. But I promised I wouldn’t tell. I promised. I have to keep my promise.
And in the stress of the moment, with the dusty tennis racket in mid-swing, Ted saw what a powerful grip a promise can have.
And not just on him. A promise can grab hold of anyone.
Even a teacher.”

“She reached out quickly and took both his hands in hers, and when he tried to pull away, she held on. “Ted, listen to me. I’m so sorry. But you have to hear this. I started feeling like I had to do something last night. Even though I promised you I wouldn’t tell anyone. But I wanted to talk to you first. So I didn’t do anything, and I didn’t tell anyone. Not even my husband.””

It is also the story of a town on the verge of collapse rising to the challenge to help strangers in need. It was very interesting watching Ted as he worked through the questions, concerns and desire to help and do the right thing. He soon realizes he cant do it all on his own so he comes up with a plan to get help to provide help.

This is another excellent offering from the pen of Andrew Clements, it is a great Middle Grade read. A fantastic book for young readers, and for those of us who just love a great story!

Books by Andrew Clements:
Bird Adalbert
Noah and the Ark and the Animals
Santa's Secret Helper
Temple Cat
Mother Earth's Counting Book
Billy and the Bad Teacher
Who Owns the Cow
Bright Christmas: An Angel Remembers
Frindle 
(Adapter)Philipp's Birthday Book
Riff's BeBop Book
Real Monsters Go for the Mold
Things That Go EEK on Halloween
Real Monsters Stage Fright
Music Time, Any Time
Double Trouble in Walla Walla
Workshop
Gromble's Haunted Halloween
Hey Dad, Could I Borrow Your Hammer
The Landry News
Look Who's in the Thanksgiving Play
The Mouse Family
The Janitor's Boy
Circus Family Dog
The Christmas Kitten
The School Story
Things Not Seen 
The Jacket 
A Week in the Woods
Slippers at Home
Naptime for Slippers
The Report Card
The Last Holiday Concert
Slippers at School
Slippers Loves to Run
A Million Is a Lot of Dots
Lunch Money
Things Hoped For
Room One: A Mystery or Two
No Talking
Things That Are
Lost and Found
Extra Credit
Troublemaker
About Average
The Map Trap
The Friendship War
The Losers Club
...

Pets to the Rescue Series
Ringo Saves the Day!
Brave Norman
Tara and Tiree, Fearless Friends
Delores and the Big Fire

Jake Drake Series
Jake Drake Know-It-All
Jake Drake, Bully Buster
Jake Drake, Teacher's Pet
Jake Drake, Class Clown

Benjamin Pratt and the Keepers of the School Series
We the Children
Fear Itself
The Whites of Their Eyes
In Harm's Way
We Hold These Truths

Reading Program Books
Karen's Island
Three Wishes for Buster
Bill Picket: An American Original, Texas Style
Hurricane Andrew
Ham and Eggs for Jack
Life in the Desert
Desert Treasure
Inventors: Making Things Better, Steck-Vaughn
Milo's Great Invention
...








Tuesday, 29 November 2022

Stick ‘Em Up Asking for a Little Help Redux

Stick ‘Em Up Asking for a Little Help Redux

I have had my website since 2000, and a blog since 2005. This blog originally started as an online archive for articles and reviews I was writing in newspapers and magazines that did not have an online presence. Early on my wife and I decided not to monetize the blog, because at that point I was getting about 90% of the books I was reviewing from publishers, marketing companies, or authors. From the beginning I created all the content, mostly reviews of books, with a smattering of technology and fitness reviews. But my blog is my hobby. I work full time in IT, but Catholicism and books are my passion.

Over a year ago I was Cancelled by Amazon, I had almost 5000 reviews removed from .ca and almost 3000 from .com and .co.uk It was disheartening to say the least. My reviews went back to 1999 on amazon. Many of the reviews were the only review on a book. For a friend calls me ‘completionist’ in that when I discover authors I really enjoy I try and read everything they have written. 

I read and review across almost all genres. If you enjoy the content consider leaving a tip in the virtual tip jar.

So please donate a few dollars if you can, use the paypal button on the left sidebar on the desktop view or use this link.


And yes I copied the idea of this post, and part of the title from a much more famous Catholic author. And this is an update of a post from 2018. And as always thank you in advance, and thank you for being a reader.

Monday, 28 November 2022

King Rat - Alex Smith - DCI Kett Crime Thrillers Book 11.0

King Rat
DCI Kett Crime Thrillers Book 11.0
ISBN 9781913877101
ASIN B0B5TX43JH


I had pre-ordered the eBook for this, so it dropped to my devices on release day. And I started reading it first thing that morning. I devoured this volume over 3 days. It was hard to put down. Now it was not as fast paced as some of the other Kett novels. And really not as violent or gruesome. The description of this instalment in the Kett saga is:

“When you find yourself in hell, it pays to be a Devil.

DCI Kett’s worst nightmares have finally come true, the mysterious group known as Hollenbeck have resurfaced. After being violently abducted, Kett wakes inside a labyrinthine warehouse with no apparent way out—a warehouse rigged with deadly traps.

And he’s not alone in here.

Forced to become a rat in a maze, Kett must use every skill he has if he wants to escape. But there is a far greater price to pay if he ever wants to see his family again.

On the outside, DI Porter, DC Savage and PC Aaron Duke face a race against time to locate Kett before it’s too late. But Hollenbeck are smart, and this case may prove too much even for the Extreme Crime Task Force.

Because Kett is in hell, and he’s about to come face to face with the greatest evil of them all...”

I started this book the day it released, and even though it was a very busy week at work I ripped through it in a few days. I could not put it down. All of the Kett books are dark, and somewhat disturbing British Crime Thrillers, but this one takes it to a completely different level. Kett has been taken, and his new team the Norfolk Constabulary’s Extreme Crime Task Force, are doing everything they can to find him. Kett wakes up in a maze, and while working his way through the maze he encounters others who were drugged and found themselves there as well. Billy is beside herself. And Kett realizes it is some sort of test or gauntlet. It is another great story an intense series. There are a few twists in this tale and somethings very much unexpected. 

If you have been fallowing the saga of DCI Kett this book is a must read. If you happen to be a fan of rough and tough action you will almost certainly enjoy this novel. And the other books in the series. This is the eleventh of the DCI Kett stories that I have read, the tenth novel, Kett has also made a brief appearance in The Harder They Fall, the first of the Softley Series of books. But back to this volume.

This one is much more of a procedural crime thriller, as they team works clues and tries to track down Kett. Norman Balls wants in on the investigation, and even takes Billy under his wing. And using skill, cunning and just a bit of luck Kett just might survive. Can they team put it all together in time? 

This is another dark and gritty crime thriller from the pen of Alex Smith. About the author we are informed that:

“Alex Smith wrote his first book when he was six. It wasn’t particularly good, but it did have some supernatural monsters in it. His latest books, the DCI Robert Kett thrillers, have monsters in it too, although these monsters are very human, and all the more terrifying for it. In between these two books he has published thirteen other novels for children and teenagers under his full name, Alexander Gordon Smith—including the number one bestselling series Escape From Furnace, which is loved by millions of readers worldwide and which is soon to become a motion picture. He lives in Norwich with his wife and three young daughters.”

My introduction to Smith’s works were The Furnace novels many years ago. I have not read everything he has published but much of it. And they are always edge of your seat thrillers. I still hope that someday he will finally release book 2 is the Softley Softley Series, but until then I am thankful for another read in this dark and disturbing series. For some the Kett stories will be the things of nightmares, for others a look at the underside of society. But no matter how you read them they are crime thrillers with a lot of action, great characters and often a lot of violence! And this one has several surprising twists!

Mystery Books as Alex Smith:

Softley Softley Series:
2.0 Hard Luck House
...

DCI Kett Series:
2.0 Bad Dog
3.0 Three Little Pigs
10.0 Knock Knock 
11.0 Rat King 
12.0 Knuckle Bone
...

Books By Alexander Gordon Smith:
Escape from Furnace:
Lockdown

Solitary
Death Sentence
Fugitives 
Execution
Execution Epilogue - Short Story
The Night Children - Short Story


Fury Series:
The Fury
The Storm

The Inventors:
The Inventors
The Inventors And The City of Stolen Souls

Non-Fiction:
1001 Questions and Answers
Inspired Creative Writing: 52 Brilliant Ideas from the Master Wordsmiths
The Solar System
Family Quiz
Writing Bestselling Children's Books: 52 Brilliant Ideas for Inspiring Young Readers













Sunday, 27 November 2022

What is happening at Medjugorje - David Baldwin - Catholic Truth Society

What is happening at Medjugorje?
David Baldwin
Catholic Truth Society

ISBN 9781860821738
eISBN 9781784692797
ASIN B072JD1PM5
CTS Booklet D657


This was the first volume I have read by David Baldwin that is not part of the Christian Shrines Series. Over the last few years, I have read over 300 books and booklets from the Catholic Truth Society. I have greatly enjoyed many of the books in the Christian Shrines Series, about half of which were by David. But I approached this volume with some trepidation. I have heard very mixed things about this site. I have heard first hand testimonies praising and criticizing these events.

The description of this volume is:

“What is happening there, and what the Church has said about it. This booklet charts the events at Medjugorje from 1981 to 2002, and the claims that apparitions of Our Lady have taken place there and continue to this day. It describes how the Church authorities have responded to such claims and developments over the years, and sets out the Church's position regarding claims of the supernatural, and the guidance offered concerning pilgrimages there. It describes a visit to Medjugorje itself, and addresses the variety of opinion surrounding this recent phenomenon in the Catholic Church.”

The chapters in the booklet are:

Introduction
Medjugorje
Overview
Apparitions, Visions, Dreams
The Church’s Position
Events: 1981 - 2002
Medjugorje Message
Viewpoints
To Go, Or Not To Go?
Personal Pilgrimage And Fruits
Appendix

This volume was first published in 2002 and the eBook edition was released in 2017. I highlighted several passages my first time through this volume. Some of them are:

“Medjugorje! To some, this very foreign name may mean nothing; to others, maybe a vague undefined notion of some mysterious happenings in a distant country - probably best avoided. To some others, who may be aware of what is being reported out of Medjugorje, emotions ranging from simple scepticism to active disbelief. To many others, a deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, prompted by reported appearances over the past years in this little-known Balkan village. It is a name, however, that is gradually gaining prominence in the Catholic consciousness, not only for what it has brought - and continues to bring - but also for the questions, disquiet, and indeed confusion that has come with it”

“For it is here that Our Lady - Gospa in Croatian - has, since 1981, been reported as regularly ‘appearing in apparition’ to six local young people. These alleged ‘appearances’ have given rise to a constant stream of ‘messages’ which are passed and avidly read round the world, as well as to a declaration of ‘ten secrets’ to the ‘visionaries’ which will be revealed to the world within their life time.”

“To the Church itself, however, weighing the evidence of the tangible, visible fruits and the reported claims of supernatural elements, it is proving to be a test of caution and prudence in the face of some controversy. This process has been complicated by an unforeseen popular desire that the ‘apparitions’ be officially recognised and approved by the Church.”

“The Church’s current position, however, is quite clear: “On the basis of investigations so far it cannot be affirmed that one is dealing with supernatural apparitions and revelations” (the Zadar Declaration of 1991). It does, however, leave the matter open to further investigation and assessment - after events at Medjugorje have clearly ceased.”

“Many of the apparitions reported from time to time from all over the world are more often disowned or ignored by the Church - usually for heretical content - at an early stage. But this particular event has been enduring for over twenty one years, and has had a profound effect - and continues to do so - on many people. It is against this rising interest over Medjugorje that an attempt to provide a popular, accurate and balanced account is given by this booklet. It does not presuppose, nor require, any former knowledge of Medjugorje. Its purpose is to explain the background to, and give a simple, unvarnished account of what is happening in Medjugorje, using authentic sources.”

“The booklet seeks neither to persuade nor dissuade, simply to inform.”

“There is no intention to contradict or undermine the position that the Church has adopted to date regarding Medjugorje, and this the reader is asked to bear in mind throughout the booklet. This particularly applies in the ‘Events’ and ‘Messages’ sections where a simple narrative style has been adopted to depict the reported details of the apparitions, messages and the so-called secrets.”

“In 1933 the parish priest and parishioners erected this 36 foot high, 15 ton reinforced concrete cross to “mark the 1900th anniversary of the Passion of Jesus”. All the building materials had to be lugged up this steep, stony hillside by hand, “old man and boy, youth and girl, they all competed to do as much as they could to realise this holy act” notes the parish chronicle. Embedded in the concrete of the cross is a relic of the True Cross. These stout efforts, and the resultant cross give, strong testament to a village’s fidelity to the Lord their God.”

“Of the six, described at the time as, “representative of the village, neither good or bad, just like every one else”, only three of them were close friends. Whilst these were acquainted with the other three, they had little else in common, and indeed their initial coming together to witness and pass on their extraordinary experience initially frightened and confused them. The age range between them was also wide, the four girls of the group were between seventeen and fifteen, and the two boys were sixteen and ten at the time.”

“Since the beginning, the apparitions continued on a daily basis to all the children, until December 1982. Between then and 1998, three of the visionaries had their apparitions reduced to one a year and on ‘special occasions’, as well as having been given the ten secrets, leaving only three who now experience daily apparitions, and who await the tenth secret. Added to the initial six visionaries in 1983 were two ten year old girls who started having, and still experience, locutions - reportedly hearing messages from Our Lady.”

“Once the ‘apparitions’ and related activities have ceased the challenge may be made even more demanding, when the limitations of human cognisance, in further painstaking investigation, aided by prayer and the promptings of the Holy Spirit, may have to re-address the events at Medjugorje and make further declarations if necessary.”

“Corporeal visions are therefore what can more commonly be termed as apparitions, literally ‘appearances’, from the Latin apparitio, meaning ‘attendance’. As described above, they are “a sensible manifestation of God, an angel, a saint or any resurrected soul to a living person (or persons) on earth” (Encyclopedic Dictionary of Religion).”

“In investigating reported apparitions the Church applies much the same thorough and painstaking process applied for beatification and canonisation. It was Pope Benedict XIV who insisted in his Encyclical ‘De Beatificatione et Canonizatione Servorum Dei’ that, “No phenomenon is to be attributed to a supernatural power until all possible natural or diabolical explanation has been investigated and excluded”. After being passed on by the parish priest to his bishop as being worthy of further examination, the evaluation process next involves an initial and thorough examination by a formal Commission raised by the diocesan bishop.”

“On the basis of the investigations so far it cannot be affirmed that one is dealing with supernatural apparitions and revelations.”

“During the ten years leading up to the Zadar Declaration there were public, lengthy and at times heated debate over what was, or was not, going on at Medjugorje. A Commission of four members was set up by the Bishop of Mostar in January 1982 to examine the events in the parish of Medjugorje, with, unusually, himself as the leading member; it was enlarged at the beginning of 1984 to twenty people. The interim conclusions were that there was insufficient scientific documentation in support of reported healings, and that it disapproved of any organised pilgrimage to Medjugorje.”

“It should be noted that there is an emphasis that what is being said is urgent, and the faithful should heed this sense of urgency. The core message is a call to conversion, a conversion back to God.”

“To obtain the true and full meaning of this word we need to turn to the Catechism, which describes Conversion as, “interior repentance” which is “a radical reorientation of our whole life, a return, a conversion to God with all our heart, an end of sin, a turning away from evil, with repugnance towards the evil actions we have committed” (CCC 1431).”

“We are asked for monthly confession, with a clear explanation that it should not turn into a monthly habitual ritual, “Confession should give impulse to your faith. It should stimulate you and bring you closer to Jesus. If confession does not mean anything for you, really, you will be converted with real difficulty”.”

““Let the Holy Mass be your life”, is the unequivocal message regarding the fifth weapon of salvation, the Holy Eucharist. Vicka tells us that Our Lady sees the Mass as “the most important and most holy moment in our lives. We have to be prepared and pure to receive Jesus with a great respect. The Mass should be the centre of our lives”. The messages lament the fact that, “You do not celebrate the Eucharist as you should.””

“Hope, that the experience would help to strengthen my faith. Open-mindedness that my newly rediscovered and regenerated faith would sustain a non-judgemental approach until the evidence, one way or another, had been revealed and could be evaluated. As for that nagging scepticism, it would have to be actively confronted on a daily basis and weighed against the evidence, rather than conveniently buried and ignored.”

Those few quotes should give you a feel for this volume. But it is a little dated in that the information is 20 years old now. From reading this volume David Baldwin appears to be convinced of the validity of these appearances. I myself and still on the fence. And I appreciate that as a Catholic I do not have to accept them, or any of the apparitions. Though I do have personal devotion to a few of them. I understand that Pope Saint John Pail II and Pope Benedict XVI both had grave concerns about this site. But only time will tell. 

It is a good read. It did not really answer any of my concerns. But I greatly enjoyed Baldwin’s other volumes for the Catholic Truth Society so wanted to give it a read.  

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books by David Baldwin: