Monday 8 January 2018

Blessings from the Battlefield - Edited by Thomas R. O'Brien

Blessings from the Battlefield
Thomas R. O'Brien (Editor)
Edwin O'Brien (Introduction)
Our Sunday Visitor
ISBN 9781931709415

Over the last few years I have read many amazing books about military chaplains. And this book was recommended to be to continue that reading. Most of my reading in this genre so fat has been biographies of soldier priests who ended up giving their life during time of service. Stories like those of Father Kapaun, Capodanno, and about the priest in Dachau. This book is very different from those. For this book is a collection of 37 short chapters, written by military chaplains serving all over the world over the second half of the last century. Not all of the stories have specific dates, but they are all moving. I am not a man easily brought to tears, but I did choke up a few times while reading this book. But I also laughed out loud as well.

The introduction of this book begins with these words:
“The initiative for the idea of ‘Blessing from the Battlefield’ was the fruit of a kind of thinktank preparing for the Church’s of the new millennium. Pope Joan Paul II set one weekend aside during the Jubilee to recognize the role played by military forces of the free world in keeping the peace, and our Archdiocese for the Military Services was to participate. 
What might we present to the Holy Father to highlight the distinctive role played by the United States Military – and particularly the Catholic presence in our military – in our many and varied attempts to free enslaved people and assure world peace throughout the last century?”
So current and retired military chaplains wrote their most memorable stories. And what a collection of stories it is. The locations of the stories include:

Majonni, Korea
Sigonella, Italy
Beirut, Lebanon
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
Somewhere in the Gulf
Augsburg, Germany
Tampa, Florida
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Fort Wayne, Indiana
Lexington, Kentucky
Mogadishu, Somalia
Aden, Yemen
Tublee, Bahrain
Albany, New York
Camp Pendleton, California
Tokyo, Japan
Fort Indian Town Gap, Pennsylvania
Camp Drum, New York
Tuzla, Bosnia
Zagreb, Bosnia
Detroit, Michigan
Camp Lejeune, North Carolina
Fort Bragg, North Carolina
Kuwait City, Kuwait
Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
Aboard the USS Saipan
Dubrovnik, Croatia

There are stories of healing, and stories of assisting as death approaches. There are stories about people coming to faith. And the Catholic faith that binds them all together. Over all I was very impressed with this book. And I have plans to pass it on to a friend who is a Deacon in the Catholic church in Canada and a chaplain himself. I do not believe that anyone could read a book like this and not be inspired. Not see miracles, not be driven to pray more. It is an excellent read! 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan!

Reviews of other books about Military Chaplains:
The Miracle of Father Kapaun: Priest, Soldier and Korean War Hero - Roy Wenzl and Travis Heying
A Shepherd in Combat Boots: Chaplain Emil Kapaun of the 1st Cavalry Division - William Maher
The Grunt Padre: Father Vincent Robert Capodanno Vietnam 1966-1967 - Daniel L. Mode
The Priest Barracks Dachau 1938-1945 - Guillaume Zeller
Blessings from the Battlefield - Edited by Thomas R. O'Brien

Heroic Catholic Chaplains: Stories of the Brave and Holy Men Who Dodged Bullets While Saving Souls
Fr Willie Doyle & World War I: A Chaplain's Story - K.V. Turley
Armed with Faith The Life of Father Vincent R. Capodanno, MM - Stephen M. Digiovanni

For all reviews and articles about Military Chaplains click here.

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