Sunday 7 May 2017

The Last Monks of Skellig Michael - Philip Kosloski

The Last Monks of Skellig Michael
Philip Kosloski
Philip A. Kosloski

This is the seventh book by Philip Kosloski that I have read in just over a year. I have greatly enjoyed and benefited from each of the books that I have read that he has written. This one combines a number of elements to make it of interest to a much wider audience. For it is part history, part spiritual direction and part Star Wars tie-in. For Skellig Michael is the site for the set of the Last Jedi Temple. But it is believed to have been the home to monks for over a 600 years.

The chapters in the booklet are:
Why Skellig Michael?
The Hive of Spiritual Nourishment
A Day in the Life of a Spiritual Warrior
The Last Monks of Skellig Michael and their Legacy

The book begins with a cloaked figure near beehive huts with a large cross on a pedestal. This could be a monk from of old, or it could be Luke Skywalker at the end of The Force Awakens. And then the first words in the book are a quote from George Bernard Shaw: "The most fantastic and impossible rock in the world: Skellig Michael… the Skelligs are pinnacled, crocketed, spired, arched, caverned, minaretted; and these gothic extravagances are not curiosities of the islands: they are the islands: there is nothing else. The rest of the cathedral may be under the sea for all I know… An incredible, impossible, mad place… I tell you the thing does not belong to any world that you and I have lived and worked in: it is part of our dream world." And searching photos of this place and the footage we see in the film confirm those statements. This is a place that seems to bot belong to our world. And yet Monks choose to live there. There is an incredible history of prayer, sacrifice and work on this island. Though few remaining history documents reference Skellig Michael recent archaeology has added to what is known of these monks, and early Christian Monasticism in Ireland.

This book also draws from the history of the Star Wars Universe and states:

In early drafts of the Star Wars script, Lucas wrote about a 16-year-old boy who seeks entrance into the "Intersystems Academy to train as a potential Jedi-Templer." [v] Lucas deliberately used the word "Jedi-Templer," in a nod to the warrior religious monks historically known as the "Knights Templar." After these initial drafts, the word Templer was discarded, but Lucas did not drop the idea entirely, referring to the spiritual sages throughout his films as "Jedi Knights."
He also makes a linkage to the Catholic Church:
Besides having a connection to the Christian monks of the Middle Ages, the Jedi also use a phrase that is intimately tied to the Christian religion. The popular phrase "May the force be with you," is in fact "a variation on the Christian phrase May the Lord be with you and with your spirit- in Latin, Dominus vobiscum et cum Spiritu tuo, which was often written by Saint Paul at the end of his letters."[ vii] Producer Gary Kurtz confirmed the phrase was intentionally evocative of the blessing often used in Catholic liturgical ceremonies.

And this book goes on from the Star Wars theme to examine the religious history of such a place, the seeking of a desert experience, the concept of a green Martyrdom and of being soldiers in Christ's army. It is believed that Saint Fionán founded this monastery with a band of 12 brothers, these men focused on living holy lives and extreme way of life.

This book was a fascinating read, and not just for this history or pop culture reference. In fact the greatest thing about this book is the reminder to us, the readers, to be aware of the need for discipline, to be prepared to engage in spiritual warfare.  In quoting Saint Pope John Paul II from his visit to the island:

"This battle against the devil which characterizes the Archangel Michael is still going on, because the devil is still alive and at work in world. In fact, the evil that is in it, the disorder we see in society, the infidelity of man, the interior fragmentation of which he is a victim, are not merely the consequences of original sin, but also the effect of the dark and infesting activity of Satan, of this saboteur of man's moral equilibrium."
A wonderful little read that I can highly recommend!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2017 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Philip Kosloski:
Basic Field Manual for Hearing God's Voice
3 Methods of Prayer That Will Change Your Life
In the Footsteps of a Saint: John Paul II's Visit to Wisconsin
Star of the Sea: A Mariner's Journey
A Practical Guide to Discern God's Will
Serviam: A Practical Guide to Discerning God's Will
Distractions: A Step-By-Step Guide on How to Stay Focused During Prayer
The Horarium: A Simple Guide to Creating a Daily Prayer Schedule That Will Change Your Life
The Last Monks of Skellig Michael

The Tale of Patrick Peyton

Finnian and the Seven Mountains:
Issue 1
Issue 2

The Mission of Joan of Arc:
Issue 1

No comments: