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Friday, 8 July 2022

The Day That Changed My Life - Francis Fernandez

The Day That Changed My Life
Francis Fernandez
Francisco Fernández-Carvajal
ISBN 9789715542159


Over the last 30ish years I have been reading Francis Fernandez’s In Conversation With God, I have read it many years. Finding his books in English has not always been easy. And in fact he has far more available in Spanish. One of the hard parts of tracking down his books is they are published under a few different names, especially English translations. I have seen volumes under these names:

Francis Carvajal
Francis Fernandez
Francis Fernandez-Carvajal
Francis Fernandez Carvajal 
Francisco Fernández-Carvajal

And there might be others out there. This volume is only available in English from Sinag-Tala in the Philippines. The back of the book states this about the author:

“Francis Fernandez is the same author of the best selling 7-volume series IN CONVERSATION WITH GOD which has been printed in ten languages with a combined print-run of more than two million copies.”

This one was well worth tracking down and reading.  I picked it up on retreat a few years back, but because I prefer eBooks took a while to getting around to reading it. I finally put it on my bedside table to try and read a chapter a night. The description on the back of the books is:

“The title ‘THE DAY THAT CHANGED MY LIFE’ suggests the profound conversion that happens within every person when he meets Christ and agrees to follow Him closely.  There is a moment - a stellar day - when one can say that it was this time when it all began.

It was on the road to Damascus…St Paul would say.
It was almost four in the afternoon when St John the Apostle recalls that most important day of his life when he met the Master as a young man.

From that moment on, everything changed.  And this is what has happened, generation after generation.  Everything changes when Jesus is made present.

This book is a series of short meditations which were inspired by moments of the author’s personal prayer or from preparations for the outlines of the meditations which he had to give.  As he mentions in the Prologue - “the main reason for putting all these considerations into writing has been the hope of helping others to take a new turn in their lives and make them grow closer to Christ … or remind him to carry the message, the Good News, he has received to others.””

When I picked it up, I had not even read the back of the book. So it was not exactly what I was expecting, I was expecting an autobiography or even conversion story. But instead it is 79 meditations or reflections highlighting examples of growth in holiness, sanctity and living out the Christian life. Those chapters are:

PROLOGUE
1. A Stellar Day 
2. Our Lord's Gaze  
3. Tell Me Something, Lord  
4. No one is Lost 
5. Open The Door  
6. Soar Like the Eagles 
7. The Lord Smiled at Me  
8. "I Will Follow Thee Wherever Thou Goest"  
9. There Is No Turbulence Up There  
10. The House  
11. Jesus, So Quiet 
12. “Put Out Into The Deep" 
13. The Water and The Fountain  
14. Mary of Bethany 
15. The Name  
16. The Precious Pearl  
17. Giving Joy 
18. The Master Calls You  
19. The Banquets  
20. Taking Risks  
21. The Reward  
22. The Thirst  
23. The Footprints of God  
24. The Summit  
25. Enter and Ask 
26. "You Can Do Nothing, But I Can" 
27. A Donkey 
28. A Full Life 
29. Love for One's Work 
30. Two Coins  
31. Two Stars  
32. The Angel  
33. The Echo  
34. The Forest  
35. The Butterflies  
36. Food for The Journey  
37. The Bread  
38. In The House of Simon  
39. Five Rivers 
40. The Circus  
41. Pain Is Not Sadness 
42. The Sick Son  
43. The Message  
44. The Palace of Wonders  
45. The Rope's Resistance  
46. The Virgin's Gaze 
47. "The Mass is My Joy" 
48. The Empty Chair 
49. The Window  
50. The Stained Glass Windows of The Cathedral  
51. The Neighbor  
52. "Do Not Forget My Leprosy" 
53. We are Not Afraid 
54. He Never Makes Mistakes 
55. El Platero 
56. The Cloak of Jesus 
57. "I Do Not Sing Against God" 
58. I Am With You 
59. The Ring  
60. "The Gift You Did Not Ask For" 
61. Searching for The Face of The Lord  
62. The Great Swindler 
63. When Everything Goes Wrong 
64. It Is Never Too Late 
65. When Night Falls 
66. Everyone Waited For Him 
67. I Do Not Have Other Plans 
68. A Friend in The Summit 
69. A Personal Love 
70. Pointing Out The Way 
71. A Soul's Condition 
72. An Ocean of Mercy 
73. A Lever for Support 
74. A Voice in The Darkness 
75. A Few 
76. Go to The Priests 
77. Time To End  
78. A Feast in Heaven 
79. God’s Dwellings
INDEX

The index is one of the subjects covered not people whose stories are shared. He draws from many stories told by Saint Josemaria Escriva and Blessed Alvaro del Portillo. This is one of those volumes I could easily return to time and time again. It can easily be read from beginning to end, or randomly opened and read a specific chapter. There are numerous examples of attitudes, practices, or devotions to help us grow in our faith. The examples are from people raised by holy parents who learned in the home to live it out. To others who has specific struggles and needed to work to overcome them. 

This is an absolutely wonderful volume. I just wish it was more easily accessible or that an eBook edition was available. The author in the prologue states:

“My editor asked me to write a few lines regarding the origin of these meditations.
All of them arose as a result of experiences I have lived throughout the years, which are so full of events. Here you will find how we unexpectedly saw an eagle fly up in all its majesty from one of the peaks of the Aragonese Pyrenees ("Soar Like the Eagles"), how we met with a shepherd, also in the Pyrenees, whom we approached to tell him that one of his sheep had been left behind with a broken leg ("No One is Lost"), and the story of a conversation I had with a friend, a pilot, who flew a plane during a storm in Madrid ("There is no Turbulence up There").

Other events have to do with occasions that are very special to me, such as the canonization of Saint Josemaría Escrivá, whom I met and collaborated with during my stay in Rome and to whom I owe such great things. Many of the ideas, suggestions, and advice that appear in this book are his. His canonization inspired me to write "A Friend in the Summit." We all know that when someone of the group is able to reach the peak of a rocky mountain, he or she will always be there to lend others a hand. The saints, "up there," offer us incalculable aid.

Other meditations arose from some of those readings that leave their mark: "Pointing out the Way," "I Do not Sing Against God," "The Great Swindler."

And finally, others were inspired by brief moments of personal prayer or from preparations for the outlines of the meditations I had to give.”

And also:

“The main reason for putting all these considerations into writing has been the hope of helping others to take a new turn in their lives and make them grow closer to Christ, or to give that someone that nudge so that he or she may hurry so as not be left behind, lost in the debris of the castle (see Meditation 43, "The Message"), or remind him to carry the message, the Good News, he has received to others.

Finally, my only suggestion to the reader is that he read or meditate on these pages in the way that Saint Peter of Alcantara recommended:

"The reading," he writes, "should not be hurried or rushed, but attentive and peaceful; applying to it not only understanding in order to comprehend what is being read, but a lot more will to take in what is being understood. And when one finds some devout phrase, stop a while so as to feel it better" (Treaty on Prayer and Meditation, 1, 7).”

No matter what name you find his books under they are worth the read. I highly recommend this volume. It is an excellent work. 

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



Books edited by Francis Fernandez Carvajal:
Year of Faith Treasury: The Sacrament of Confession 
Year of Faith Treasury: The Virtue of Faith
Year of Faith Treasury: The Virtue of Fortitude 

In Conversation with God:

In Conversation with God eBooks:
Volume 1 Part 1 Advent 
Volume 1 Part 2 Christmas and Epiphany
Volume 2 Part 1 Lent and Holy Week
Volume 2 Part 2 Eastertide
Volume 3 Part 1 Ordinary Time Weeks 1-6
Volume 4 Part 1 Ordinary Time Weeks 13-18
Volume 4 Part 2 Ordinary Time Weeks 19-23
Volume 4 Part 2 Ordinary Time Weeks 19-23
Volume 5 Part 1 Ordinary Time Weeks 24-28
Volume 5 Part 2 Ordinary Time Weeks 29-34
Volume 6 Part 1 Special Feasts January-March
Volume 6 Part 2 Special Feasts April-June
Volume 7 Part 1 Special Feats July -September
Volume 7 Part 2 Special Feats October -December

Books by Francis Fernandez Carvajal:


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