Sunday, 28 May 2023

Descent Into the Hell of Venus - Manuel Alfonseca - Solar System Book 2

Descent Into the Hell of Venus
Solar System Book 2
Manuel Alfonseca
ISBN 9781541104891
eISBN 1230000261156

I made a mistake and read book three before reading this book. This one immediately jumped towards the top of my reading list. I have greatly enjoyed the three volumes in the Solar System. Each book is strong enough to read on its own. And together they show an interesting take on our future, and the purpose and morality of exploring and possibly terraforming other planets. I also found out from the author that another volume is loosely related to this trilogy, A face in Time: 1789-2089, which appears to take place between books 2 and 3, so of course I picked it up and added it to the reading list. And Alfonseca has indicated he is working on an official fourth volume in this series.  

I have read a number of books by Manuel Alfonseca, across several series and some also some standalone stories, I have also read some of them more than once. I have had this one for a few years now, but had not got around to reading it. This one jumped in my reading list while I was researching for the review of Under An Orange Sky. At the time I found I had already picked up the other two volumes in this series, the second from the same eBook retailor and book three from another. This series was brought back to my attention when working on a review of a different volume by Alfonseca. I am very thankful it did, for this book and series are excellent offerings from Alfonseca’s pen. The descriptions of this volume states:

“The first manned flight to Venus would make history. Everything was prepared in the ship "Enterprise", when surprisingly, and from higher instances, a member of the crew was changed a few days before the departure. What did the "Brotherhood of the Rose" have to do with all this? Was anyone plotting a sabotage? The fate of seven astronauts and one of the most important scientific missions of the time was in danger.”

But the danger is not just for those on the mission. There is danger at home. And not all things are as they appear. There is danger for a reporter trying to find the truth. There is danger for the crew of the first manned mission to Venus. And there is danger for any who oppose and defy a powerful mover and shaker who stays in the background and off the radar. Steve MacDunn from the first story is back in the thick of it and he is the commander of this mission. The mission is supposedly under threat from an organization that has terrorist intentions, the Fraternity of the Rose.

Once again as I started reading this volume I could hardly put it down, that seems to be the case with most of Alfonseca’s works. And much like while I was reading The History of the Earth-9 Colony and Under An Orange Sky I often thought of other books that have had a great influence on me over the years. The three volumes that came to mind are:

Solaris - Stanisław Lem
The Space Trilogy – C.S. Lewis
Ishmael Trilogy – Daniel Quinn

And Steve in this work reminds me of Rico from Heinlein’s Starship Troopers. He is a strong character with a clear view of what is right and wrong. He is a leader and a man of virtue. And his strength may save not only the lives of his crew but many back home. To find out if and how you need to read this excellent story.

This was another amazing story from Alfonseca’s pen. This trilogy echo C.S. Lewis’s space trilogy. I was hooked from beginning to end. I could hardly put the book down. Manual’s writing in this story is excellent, even though I felt echoes of other stories the way he has handled the material and the themes and consequences he presents are very well written. I was very surprised by the twists at the end, I admit I was completely taken by surprise, and in part that is why I would love to see more stories in the series. This story is a little more action, and mystery and less philosophy and theory than the other two stories in the series. I loved this story and have been telling my son about the book and series and he has now added it to his reading pile.

Alfonseca does his own translation work in this and other stories. I have said before that there is a certain sense of the works of Jose Saramango and Gabriel García Márquez in Alfonseca’s writings.  

This is an excellent science fiction story from a master storyteller and I can easily recommend it. A great story in a wonderful series.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2023 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Manuel Alfonseca in English:
Jacob's Ladder
The Ruby of the Ganges
The Last Dinosaur
Ennia in Faerie
The Heirloom of King Scorpion
Beyond the Black Hole
The Water of Life
A face in Time: 1789-2089

The Sleuths of the Spanish Transition Series:
Quetzalcoatl's Zahir

The Mystery of the Haunted House
The Mystery of the Sapphire Bracelet
The Mystery of the Honeymoon
The Mystery of the Egyptian Vulture Country House

Chronicles of the Magic Jigsaw Puzzle Series:
The Journey of Tivo the Dauntle
The Mystery of the Black Lake
The Silver Swan
The Secret of the Ice Field
The Lost Continent

The Chronicles of the Aeolian Family Series:

Human Cultures & Evolution
World Population: Past, Present, & Future
The Fifth Level of Evolution

Saturday, 27 May 2023

Saint Patrick - Gerard Culkin - CTS Biographies

Saint Patrick
CTS Biographies
Gerard Culkin
Catholic Truth Society
CTS Booklet B560

This book was another that was harder to track down, it was well worth doing so. I love readings books that are part of the CTS Biographies series. I have read some published just this year (2023) and some over 100 years ago. This is one of three different biographies of Saint Patrick from the Catholic Truth Society I have read. 

They are:

There was no description on the back of this book and I failed to find one online. I did find at least two printings of this volume, one with the Irish flag colours on the cover and the other with green white green strips across the cover. The back of this edition lists several others Biographies from the CTS I would love to lay my hands on:

B419 St Alphonsus – Anthony Foy C.SS.R.
B414 St David of Wales – David Crowley D.D.
B404 St Catherine of Siena – Alice Curtayne
B336 St Paul – Rev. T. O’Donoghue

I have only been able to track one of them down online and that copy did not ship to Canada. So once again I read a volume from the Catholic Truth Society and add a few others to my ever growing wish list. But back to this specific volume. And the sections in the volume are:

Saint Patrick
Patrick's Early Life
Patrick on the Continent
Patrick in Ireland, 429-461
The Fame of St Patrick

It has a bibliography at the end references 5 volumes on Patrick or Christianity in Ireland. I highlighted numerous passages while reading this small volume. They are:

“Saint Patrick, the apostle of Ireland, was already venerated as an angel of God in his own lifetime and with the passage of years his fame grew, so that, like some king or hero of antiquity, the true story of his life was soon obscured by legends and fables. For many years now historians have been trying to disentangle the true facts about the saint from the many stories that were later told about him, with some very strange results.”

“The plain fact is that we know very little for certain about St Patrick. Almost all that we do know is derived from two short works written by Patrick himself, the Confessio which he wrote to defend himself against the slanders of his enemies, and a letter which he wrote to a British chieftain called Coroticus. Two hundred years after the saint's death two Irish scholars, Tirechan and Muirdu, wrote accounts of his life, and it seems probable that some authentic traditions about him and his work are preserved in their writings and in the early Irish annals.”

“The story which follows is based largely on the evidence of Patrick's own writings. It is a brief account of what most modern historians would accept as reliable fact about the Patrick who was born in Britain in the late fourth century, who passed several years of his youth as a slave in Ireland, and who, about the year 432, returned to that country to preach the Gospel and establish the Church there.”

“Patrick tells us that he was born in Britain, at a place called Banavem Taberniae, which was probably in the west of the country, perhaps on the Severn estuary, and certainly near the sea. The year of his birth was about A.D. 385, not long before the Romans left Britain to defend their own country from the attacks of the barbarian invaders. Patrick came of noble stock. His father, Calpurnius, was a deacon and a decurion, or city councillor, and his grandfather, Potitus, was a priest.”

“Patrick tells us that up to the time of his captivity he had been a somewhat careless Christian, but the hardships of his life in exile turned his thoughts to God. His faith was strengthened by his sufferings: he found the gift of prayer, and he was filled with the spirit of God. He learned the language of his captors, and perhaps already made a first attempt to convert some of them.”

“In the course of the next few years Patrick travelled widely in search of instruction; in one of the sayings attributed to the saint in the Book of Armagh he speaks of his journeys 'through the Gauls, in Italy, and in the isles which are in the Tyrrhennian sea'. Where these travels began and how long they lasted we do not know, for Patrick mentions no dates and no places; but it is believed that he spent some time, either now or earlier, at Lerins, off the coast of Provence, in the famous monastery founded about the year 410 by St Honoratus, and he certainly visited some of the many other monasteries and hermitages which had been established in the other islands of the Mediterranean in the course of the late fourth century. Almost certainly it was at Auxerre, in Gaul, that he finally settled and stayed for some fifteen years or more. There he had as his teachers two holy bishops, Amatus, who ordained him deacon when he was about thirty years of age, and German us, one of the most distinguished churchmen of the day.”

“Through all these years Patrick never lost sight of his objective, to return to Ireland when he was fitted for the task of preaching the gospel to the pagan people. The opportunity finally came to him in the year 432, when, according to the best reckoning, he was about forty-seven years old.”

“Meanwhile it would seem that Patrick had so impressed Germanus and the clergy of Auxerre by his humility that some time after the departure of Palladius he was ordained priest and sent in the company of a senior priest, Segitius, to join the mission in Ireland. In the course of his journey, while still in Gaul, he was met by messengers bringing news of the death of Palladius. He at once returned to Auxerre, and Germanus, who clearly saw himself as commissioned by the Pope to make provision for Ireland, now saw that Patrick was indeed destined to become the leader of the mission.”

“And there are stories, or legends, of saints in Ireland before St Patrick's time. Ibar of Beg Ere in Wexford, Ailbe of Emly, and Declan of Ardmore are said, according to one story, to have worked in Ireland as missioners with Ciaran of Saigher. But all of this is very uncertain, and Patrick in his own writings makes it clear that he worked among a people who were still completely heathen.”

“By the time of his death the faith had been preached throughout the entire country, bishops established, there was a native clergy, hundreds of churches had been built, monasteries founded and many holy women dedicated to the service of God and the Church.”

“The legends of the saint and the stories of the miracles and the wonders he worked are many, but the recorded facts are few indeed, and it is not possible to construct anything more than a mere outline of his missionary life.”

“About this time Patrick founded his own church, to which a monastery was attached, at Armagh. It was here that he spent the later years of his life, and after his death Armagh was recognized as the primatial see of Ireland.”

“Yet there can be no doubt that Patrick was the ruler of the Irish Church, and that that Church recognized the supreme authority of the Roman see. 'A single canon quoted in the Book of Armagh decrees that difficult questions should be brought before the archiepiscopal see of Armagh, and in the last instance be decided by the apostolic see of Rome'.”

“As early as the seventh century his feast was observed on 17 March.”

“In the year 563 St Columba, with twelve companions, left Ireland and settled at Iona, off the west coast of Scotland, to begin the conversion of the Picts. From Iona in 635 St Aidan was sent to become the bishop of Lindisfarne and convert the people of Northumbria. In the year 590 St Columbanus, the greatest of all these missionaries, left Ireland for the continent and in the next few years evangelized parts of Gaul and Burgundy, penetrating as far as Italy, and everywhere founding or reforming monasteries as schools of sanctity and learning.”

“Of all the missionary saints of the Dark Ages there are few indeed whose achievement can be compared with that of St Patrick; there is none whose fame and influence has proved more enduring.”

This was a wonderful little biography. And of the three from the CTS I have read it is my second favourite. The one by Kerr is first but not by much. I am thankful I was able to track this down and give it a read. One of my son’s middle names is Patrick and he asked if he asked to read it after I finished it. I will likely return to this little booklet again. It was so inspiring and it will challenge readers of all ages. I can easily recommend this book.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2023 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.


Books in the CTS Great Saints Series:
Antonio Rosmini - J.B. Midgley
Bernard of Clairvaux - J.B. Midgley
Benedict Patron of Europe - J.B. Midgley
Charles Borromeo - J.B. Midgley
Dominic - J.B. Midgley
Elizabeth of the Trinity The Great Carmelite Saint - Jennifer Moorcroft
Francis de Sales - J.B. Midgley
Gemma Galgani Gem of Christ John Paul Kirkham
George: Patron of England - J.B. Midgley
John Baptist de La Salle - J.B. Midgley
John of the Cross - Jennifer Moorcroft
John Vianney - J.B. Midgley
Louis Marie de Montfort His Life, Message and Teaching - Paul Allerton SMM
Martin de Porres - Glynn MacNiven-Johnston
Patrick Missionary to the Irish - Thomas O’Loughlin 

Friday, 26 May 2023

Child of the Deep - Mary Jessica Woods

Child of the Deep

I absolutely loved the debut novel, Markmaker, by Mary Jessica. My son and I listened to that story during a long road trip using adaptive technology. The story was fascinating from start to finish. And we both hope it will be the first of many stories set in this world. This is the next story we are offered. It is available for joining the author’s mailing list, and it is a wonderful piece. I cannot but hope we get to see these characters in a longer piece. Soon! We listened to the story over almost 7 hours during a trip and the journey back. 

The description of this story is:

““Child of the Deep,” a standalone short story set in the world of Markmaker.

The tattoo of apprenticeship on his forehead told her he had been given to the Van’shorii six years ago. She guessed this was the first time in six years that anyone had touched him in kindness.

I’m sorry, Dakhalo. I’m so sorry for all we have taken from you.”

As soon as I finished this story I went back and read it again. When I told my son about it he was desperate for me to send it to his kindle. 

This short story is a fantastic read and one I can easily recommend! This is a moving short story. Writing short stories is a very different art than long form fiction. Some authors excel at one r the other. Few are masters of both. But this second offering from Mary Jessica shows great skill and talent. And to be honest you cannot beat the price. 

This is a great story in an incredible world. And I hope one of many, many more to come.  

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2023 Catholic Reading Plan

Books by Mary Jessica Woods:

Thursday, 25 May 2023

The One That Got Away - J.D. Kirk - DI Heather Filson Book 1

The One That Got Away
DI Heather Filson Book 1
ISBN 9781912767731

Wow! This story was so much more than I was expecting. Once I started I could hardly put the book down. I stayed up way to late on a work night and just kept saying, 1 more page to myself, through a few chapters. This is the first book in a new series by J.D. Kirk, the DCI Jack Logan books have been coming out steadily for a few years now, and the off shoot quadrilogy of Bob Hoon books was epic in the levels of violence and use of language. And along come the first story about Di Heather Filson. We have encountered her a few times in the Logan books, and there are some cross over characters. But What an incredible story. I was waiting months for this volume to drop and see what it was all about. It was more than worth the wait.

Over the last year I read about a book a week By Kirk under one of his three pen names. And this marks the 22nd under the Kirk name and coming up to 15 under the names Barry Hutchison and Barry J, Hutchison. So this is the 37th volume from this author in about a year that I have read. I have now read the first 16 in the DCI Logan series and all 4 in the Robert Hoon series, as well as stand alone VIP exclusive short story. I picked the first for a few reasons, but mainly because authors Alex Smith and JE Mayhew have both recommended the author and series. I am a big fan of Smith’s DCI Kett novels and Mayhew’s DCI Will Blake Series. I have been hooked since that first read. I had no idea how addictive Kirk’s books would be or that like Mayhew and Smith, Kirk publishes under three different names. Kirk publishes children’s books as Barry Hutchison, and other adult fiction as Barry J. Hutchison. He has over 200 books across the three pen names. If I had known that or I might not have picked up this first one. Friends call me a ‘completionist’ in that when I find an author I like, I try to read everything they have published. Being caught up now on his works as J.D. Kirk I will have to wait for each new one to come out. But back to this volume.

The description of this novel is:

“What if your worst enemy was your only hope?

When a fifteen-year-old girl fails to make it home after school, DI Heather Filson believes she’s dealing with just another teenage runaway.

The girl’s grandfather, a notorious Glasgow gangster, disagrees. Convinced one of his underworld enemies has grabbed her, he’s prepared to bathe the city in blood in order to bring his princess home.

But, as the days pass and the evidence mounts, Heather starts to fear that they’re both wrong, and that a brutal killer from the past has returned.

A killer who once stalked the streets of her hometown, preying on vulnerable young victims.

A killer that DI Heather Filson is uniquely familiar with.”

This story is very different than anything else I have read by Kirk, and yet we have the cross over characters, the elements of Scottish police procedurals, and the nature of the crimes. From the very beginning we get to see deeper into the history and psyche of DI Filson than we have with either Hoon or Logan. This story is set in present day, and yet much relates to cases from many years ago. And a case in particular that played a key role in shaping Filson herself. 

When the first girl goes missing, they are racing against the clock. When Future events happen even much more is at risk. 

The story has several intense passages of memories of abuse and of witnessing abuse on another. It deals with repressed memories. And it deals with coming to terms with our own personal demons and our past. Or at least Heathers. She has already been busted down from DCI to DI, and even risk that to break the rules because of her conviction of what is happening in this case. 

Be warned this story is not for the feint of heart, or readers with sensitive stomachs. It is crime lit written dark and dirty. But it also provides a little hope, especially at the end. I can only hope this is the first of many stories focused on DI Filson and even that ‘Nancy Drew’ makes future appearances. Amazing characters, great pace, and man oh man what a plot. Kirk has knocked it out of the cricket field with this one. 

This is another great read in what looks to be another great series. I love the books written under the pen name J.D. Kirk, they are definitely Scottish Mysteries, and I can see the comparisons with Smith’s and Mayhew’s works, as well as several other more mainstream names. I love that the stories are set in Scotland! And I believe my gramps born in Fife would have loved them, and have recommended them to my own dad. This book would be great read for fans of Jack Reacher, Jack Ryan, or Temperance Brennan. I state it again this is a great read and beginning to what should be an amazing series!      

Books by J.D. Kirk:

DCI Logan Series:

Robert Hoon Thrillers:

DI Heather Filson Series:

Contributed to:
Everyday Kindness: A Collection of Uplifting Tales to Brighten Your Day

Books as Barry J. Hutchison:
Dan Deadman Space Detective Series:
Dead in the Water

Space Team Series:
The Search for Splurt 
Song of the Space Siren 
The Guns of Nana Joan 
Return of the Dead Guy 
Planet of the Japes 
The Time Titan of Tomorrow 
The King of Space Must Die 
Sting of the Mustard Mines 
Sentienced to Death
The Hunt for Reduk Topa
A Lot of Weird Space Shizz: Collected Short Stories

Sidekicks Initiative Series:
The Sidekicks Initiative

The Bug Books Series:
Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Complete Season One

Other Books:

Children’s books as Barry Hutchison:
Invisible Fiends Series:
The Crowmaster 
Doc Mortis 
The Beast 
The Darkest Corners 

The Missing Remote of the Apocalypse
The Book of Doom 

Benjamin Blank Series:
The Swivel-Eyed Ogre-Thing 
The Moon-Faced Ghoul-Thing 

Beaky Malone Series:
Worst School Trip Ever
Super Creepy Camp
Weirdest Show on Earth

Generator Rex Series:
Mirror Mirror

Living Ted Series:
Revenge of the Living Ted
Invasion of the Living Ted

Spectre Collectors Series:
Too Ghoul for School
A New York Nightmare!

Other works:

Wednesday, 24 May 2023

Saint Patrick - Donal A. Kerr - CTS Biographies

Saint Patrick
CTS Biographies
Donal A. Kerr
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 0851835279
ISBN 9780851835273
CTS Booklet B560

This book was another that was harder to track down, it was well worth doing so. I love readings books that are part of the CTS Biographies series. I have read some published just this year (2023) and some over 100 years ago. This is one of three different biographies of Saint Patrick from the Catholic Truth Society I have read. 

They are:

The description on the back of the book is:

“Patrick was born in Britain. At sixteen he was suddenly captured and taken to Ireland, where he was sold into slavery. He was lucky to escape with his life. But one night in a dream he heard the voice of the Irish calling him back. How Patrick answered that call is one of the most splendid chapters in the history of the Irish people.

Donal A . Kerr is Professor of Ecclesiastical History, Maynooth College, Ireland.”

And the sections in the volume are:

Saint Patrick
The facts about Patrick
Not a biography
Roman and British
The Slave
Journey through a desert
Preparing to Return
The Irish Mission
Pirates Again
The Confession
Glory to God
In the Spirit
Life spent for the Irish
The National Saint

I highlighted numerous passages while reading this small volume. They are:

“Like Saint Patrick, I too have heard 'the voice of the Irish' calling to me. Pope John Paul II, Phoenix Park, Dublin, 29 September 1979.”

“A British bishop who while remaining deeply attached to his own land so loved his adopted land of Ireland that he refused to leave it to return home; a patron whom the Irish have so venerated since that they include him with God and the Virgin in their daily greeting; a missioner who looking back on his life saw in its tangled pattern God's wonderful design for the Irish: this is St Patrick.”

“A century after Patrick's death, and as a direct result of his mission, the Irish were seen in a very different light. Columba, Aidan, Finan and their countless fellow-monks were revered as the great and gentle evangelizers of Anglo-Saxon Britain; Columbanus and his followers were seen as some of the world's greatest missioners and the preservers of western civilization in one of its darkest hours.”

“What do we know about this man who, under God, was responsible for this achievement? Bafflingly little if one is concerned with precise dates and places, but far more than about most saints of his time if one is looking for the essentials.”

“But the essential knowledge about a saint concerns his holiness, his values, what inspires him, his spiritual wrestling, and his inner achievements; and on those aspects of Patrick we are well informed for we possess two contemporary documents. What gives those documents their unique value is that they are not the work of a pious biographer writing years after the saint's death but letters written by Patrick himself. Neither document attempts to give a history of his life; both are spontaneous reactions to two crises in his life.”

“Patrick wrote his Confession in old age and he says himself, 'This is my confession before I die.' In it he looks back in wonder on the haphazard course of his life, realizing now that in the varying turns and twists it had taken, so inexplicable when they occurred, the hand of God was present. As a man whose task is nearly done, who is coming through the last and greatest crisis of his life, he relives the great moments of his career. In doing so he gives us some fascinating detail on his life and on the events which he now realizes were God's hidden plan for the salvation of the Irish.”

“Patrick's father was a state official, a member of the urban council and a deacon in the church, in every sense a member of the establishment. With this background it was understandable that Patrick should, throughout his life, feel identified with the Roman Empire. His family would have been well-off, with the amenities enjoyed by people of their standing-a town and country dwelling with baths and running water, servants, and teachers for their children.” 

“Then Patrick had to endure a long sea journey to Ireland before, exhausted and terrified, he was sold as a slave to a farmer. So this well-bred son of a good family had to exchange his fine clothes for the ragged garments of a shepherd. Tradition tells us that it was in County Antrim, on Slemish mountain, that Patrick spent six years of harsh slavery. He himself does not name the place but speaks of the snow and frost and rain in mountain and forest; certainly Slemish with its view of the heartland of Ulster was bleak, cold and forbidding.”

“This catastrophe, however, was to prove a beginning, and not just an end. God spoke to young Patrick through his misfortune and misery and, in anguish of soul, the young captive turned to God.”

“'I used to pray many times during the day,' he wrote. ‘Even in times of snow or frost or rain I would rise before dawn to pray and I never felt the worse for it ... My faith grew stronger and my zeal so intense that in the course of a single day I would say as many as a hundred prayers, and almost as many in the night.'”

“When Patrick stepped aboard, they immediately set sail, and one can imagine his relief as he saw the coast-line of Ireland, where he had suffered as a slave for six years, fade away in the distance.”

“There is doubt as to where he studied for the priesthood; some scholars think it was in Britain, but most believe that it was in some of the great Christian schools of Gaul-probably including Auxerre, the residence of the saintly Bishop German us. It is to these two countries, Britain and Gaul, that Patrick owed the indispensable training and continuous support be got for his hazardous Irish venture.”

“Traditionally, the date of his mission to Ireland is set at AD 432, though some scholars place it later. One wonders what Patrick’s thoughts were as his boat came into sight of Ireland, the land from which he had escaped with difficulty after so much suffering, he had no illusions; he knew that it was only because the Holy Spirit drove him to it that be had returned.”

“Patrick came back, not from any human attraction, but driven by the Spirit of God. He made himself the servant of those who had injured him, to win them for Christ.”

“We tend to think of Patrick's Irish mission as one glorious, successful, triumphal march right through a land that was only waiting for his arrival to become Christian and that welcomed him with open arms. The facts, insofar as we can now ascertain them, are quite different. It was a long bard struggle with the odds stacked against him, for the difficulties were enormous.”

“But if Ireland had no written language, she had evolved a splendidly distinct culture with a rich oral literature, elaborate art styles, and a mass of customary law carefully handed on and preserved.”

“Often Patrick was ill-received: ‘I came to the pagans of Ireland to preach the Gospel and to endure insults from unbelievers. I heard my mission abused, I endured many persecutions even to the extent of chains.'”

“Patrick's progress must have been risky and painfully slow, as in kingdom after kingdom he tirelessly proclaimed the good news and patiently set about laying the foundations of a Christian community. It is unlikely that he covered all Ireland, and it appears certain that his mission was mainly in the northern half of the country, particularly Ulster. Slemish, Saul, Downpatrick, Lough Derg are just some of the many places in the northern half of the country associated with Patrick.”

“Perhaps Patrick's most striking success was in the way he managed to touch the hearts of the young people of Ireland who flocked to him. Scores of them committed their lives in the way he had committed his-to preach the Gospel and to follow Christ in the priesthood and the religious life. It was his greatest joy. Yet it was not achieved without difficulty. 'How is it,' he asks, 'that the sons and daughters of Irish chieftains are to become monks and virgins dedicated to Christ?' The girls, in particular, got no support from their parents, but rather harassment. Yet they showed extraordinary courage: 'Their fathers disapprove of them, so they often suffer persecution' and unfair abuse from their parents, yet their number goes on increasing.'”

“Patrick was horrified, and immediately sent one of his priests demanding the release of the captives. The slavers laughed him to scorn. Patrick now sent Coroticus a letter. This reveals a different side of his character-the shepherd of the flock rising up in wrath against rapacious wolves. Fearlessly he attacked Coroticus, excommunicating him and his men, demanding the immediate release of the prisoners who were still in their hands and insisting that the culprits do penance.”

“To a sensitive person like Patrick the betrayal of his confidence by a close friend was acutely painful, and the calling into question of the mission in which he had laboured so long and so tirelessly almost broke him. But it had a purifying effect, too, for Patrick; let down by men on whose loyalty he had counted, he cast himself more completely on God.”

“This searing trial, too, had one immensely important result for us - it impelled Patrick to write the so-called Confession. This priceless document is by far and away the most important source we have for real information about Patrick. Like the Letter to
Coroticus, the Confession was written by Patrick himself and is regarded as authentic by all historians.”

“His intention is to show us the great work of God in converting the pagan Irish, work in which he was an unworthy instrument. Insofar as he gives us some glimpses into his life, this is solely in order to make known how it was shot through with God's grace right from the beginning.”

“Misunderstood in the past, Patrick hoped that if they read it, they would finally grasp how he saw his long, arduous but successful mission and that, further, they would understand him: I want my brothers and kinsfolk to know what kind of man I am and understand my soul's desire.'”

“Patrick's humility is no false humility, for he had learned it the hard way-through humiliation. It was indeed a shameful humiliation for a well-reared young Roman citizen, well-cared for and decently, perhaps elegantly, dressed, to eat the bitter crumbs of servitude, clad in rags and treated as a slave-boy. Yet Patrick's comment was: 'We have deserved this fate because we had turned away from God; we neither kept his commandments nor obeyed our pastors who used to warn us of our salvation.'”

“Before the conversion of Ireland was completed, the humble Patrick had died an obscure death. Others, zealous contemporaries and devoted successors, completed the work. Gradually, Patrick's fame spread throughout all Ireland and abroad. From that time on the Irish in every land have honoured as no other national saint has been honoured that simple but heroic man who, moved by the plea of the pagan Irish, returned to the land of his sufferings to bring them, by his word and witness, to know and love God the Father, through Christ our Saviour, in his Holy Spirit.”

This was an amazing little biography. And of the three from the CTS I have read it is my favourite. The one by Gerard Culkin is a close second. I am very thankful I was able to track down this volume. One of my son’s middle names is Patrick and he asked if he could have this one when I finished it. I will likely return to this little booklet again. It was so inspiring and it will challenge readers of all ages. I can easily recommend this book.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2023 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.


Books in the CTS Great Saints Series:
Antonio Rosmini - J.B. Midgley
Bernard of Clairvaux - J.B. Midgley
Benedict Patron of Europe - J.B. Midgley
Charles Borromeo - J.B. Midgley
Dominic - J.B. Midgley
Elizabeth of the Trinity The Great Carmelite Saint - Jennifer Moorcroft
Francis de Sales - J.B. Midgley
Gemma Galgani Gem of Christ John Paul Kirkham
George: Patron of England - J.B. Midgley
John Baptist de La Salle - J.B. Midgley
John of the Cross - Jennifer Moorcroft
John Vianney - J.B. Midgley
Louis Marie de Montfort His Life, Message and Teaching - Paul Allerton SMM
Martin de Porres - Glynn MacNiven-Johnston
Patrick Missionary to the Irish - Thomas O’Loughlin