Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Father Elijah: An Apocalypse” as Want to Read:
Father Elijah: An Apocalypse
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Father Elijah: An Apocalypse (Children of the Last Days #4)

4.33  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,411 Ratings  ·  153 Reviews
Michael O'Brien presents a thrilling apocalyptic novel about the condition of the Roman Catholic Church at the end of time. It explores the state of the modern world, and the strengths and weaknesses of the contemporary religious scene, by taking his central character, Father Elijah Schafer, a Carmelite priest, on a secret mission for the Vatican which embroils him in a se ...more
Hardcover, 596 pages
Published June 1st 1996 by Ignatius Press (first published 1996)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Father Elijah, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Andrew Votipka This one is extremely Catholic. It's also set in modern times. I'd choose one of his other novels like Island of the World or The Father's Tale.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,238)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Rachel Crooks
Jul 15, 2011 Rachel Crooks rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book established Michael O'Brien as one of my favorite Christian writers. This quote was he novel's response to the commonly asked question, "Why would a good God permit evil?"

“The problem is not only one act of evil, but many such acts. Let us say, six million Jews and six million Gentile Poles, and tens of millions of others. That is just the Second World War. Let us say that our cosmic terrorist pushes harder and harder against the integrity of God. Let us say he uses a Stalin- now we a
Christine Sunderland
May 31, 2009 Christine Sunderland rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
I read Father Elijah ten years ago, and recalled how refreshing it was to read a story set in the late 20th century that was infused with the sacramental acts of God. I also recalled not being able to put it down. Would the book be as I remembered? Could I add this to my gift list for friends and family? Would this help or hinder their belief in the Christian God of love?

Our hero, Father Elijah, is a Carmelite monk, his past forged in the fires of brutal suffering. As David Schafer, a holocaust
Mar 30, 2011 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have been meaning to read this book for several years. I like stories about the Apocalypse: don't ask me why since they tend to scare the crap out of me. We can file this one under Catholic Armageddon stories (much like Pierced By a Sword), a sub-genre of Christian Apocalyptic fiction in general (like the dreadfully written Left Behind books). This particular book was well written and fast-paced, for the most part, with a few rather long (and slightly dry) patches of dialogue thrown in.

Regina Doman
A great reflection on the Book of Revelation, but the "thriller" parts of the story are unbearably clunky, and the other two books in the series I've read, Stranger and Sojournerd and Eclipse of the Sun are worse in this regard. O'Brien is a brilliant storyteller but he should stick to slow-moving relationship plots (as he does wonderfully in Strangers and Sojourners) and steer clear of writing about car chases, tunnels under Vatican buildings, and black helicopters.
Jun 05, 2010 Marie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It has been a long time since I read an almost-600 page novel in a matter of days. This was a really entrancing book. The characters were engaging, the plot enticing, and the spirituality instructive. It was the sort of book where the very ending was just a tad disappointing because the real ending has to be written in one's life; a literary conclusion just can't do it. A friend recommended me to read this book, and I'm very glad she did. It was a rare combination of exciting and valuable.

I can
Jun 02, 2010 Joyce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite books of all time. I read it a few years ago, and still think of it often, especially as I see history unfolding before my eyes today. I plan to re-read it, next time with my husband. I would highly recommend it. I am not a Catholic, but as a believer, i appreciated the book from a Biblical perspective.
Eris Vianney
Mar 25, 2015 Eris Vianney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Eris Vianney by: Taylor Marshall
Thank you, AOS! I am so glad I was able to read this book during Lent. :)
J.B. Simmons
Mar 27, 2015 J.B. Simmons rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: faith
This is a profound and impressive book. It is also quirky and, at times, challenging. The author knows this. At the beginning he warns the reader: "This book is a novel of ideas. It does not proceed at the addictive pace of a television micro-drama, nor does it offer simplistic resolutions and false piety. It offers the Cross. It bears witness, I hope, to the ultimate victory of light." That it does, and I'm glad to have read it.

But the warning proves true. It's a long book, very heavy on dialog
Jan 01, 2013 Andrea rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book tells the story of a Catholic monk who is called from the quiet of his monastic life to aid the Church(and the world) in the final days. There is intrigue and mystery involving the Vatican and a world leader who is the Antichrist. I finished reading this novel well over a month ago but haven't reviewed it at all because I just didn't know how to articulate my disappointment. Unfortunately, I still don't exactly know how to explain my distaste for this book especially in the face of so ...more
Mar 17, 2012 Ethan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This has an ending a bit like the movie "No Country for Old Men", so be warned. I've never read anything quite like this, and I liked it a lot. It is, as advertised, an Apocalypse, and it's pretty thoroughly biblical, but not preachy, even though it contains preaching. This story is soaked in Catholicism without any triumphalism and is epic and historic in scope. It involves a conspiracy at the Vatican, a noble Pope, and a charming and popular antichrist. Although names aren't used, JP2 and Card ...more
Kathleen Valentine
Nov 09, 2009 Kathleen Valentine rated it it was amazing
It's difficult to say what makes this book so compelling. It is a book of ideas constructed mainly in conversations and the ideas presented are so fascinating that I found myself completely absorbed every time I picked it up. Because I grew up Catholic and went to Catholic schools most of the concepts were ones I was familiar with and I was pleased to see these beliefs and principles which I've known all my life presented with intelligence and respect, not being misconstrued and hyperbolic.

The c
Jan 04, 2014 Zachary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mediocre
"Father Elijah" is definitely the most well-written modern Catholic novel I've read recently. Chapters 11 and 12 are so fluid and vivid they sing like a Wagner opera. The themes of faith and doubt, prayer, and trust are masterfully played with, and the writer has a definite talent for building excitement within a high-power confrontation.

Now I will consider the weaknesses of the book as I see them. Mortal sin in my book is a double-climax. The title-character completes his magnum opus sixty page
Jan 04, 2015 Donna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
How very strange. Back in 1997 I really enjoyed this book. This past year I attempted a re-read, and couldn't finish it because it didn't seem worth my time. To rate it, I took the middle road. The following write-up is from my first time around with it. I've previously attempted apocalyptic novels; but never really had the urge to finish one, mainly because of their preachy nature. Father Elijah was different. The tale itself, of Father Elijah's journey through Europe and the Middle East was en ...more
Feb 25, 2012 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I could hardly put this book down. O'Brien runs circles around other authors of similar subjects. Most other end-times novels are written promoting the pre-millenial Rapture and the aftermath during the Tribulation, culminating in the pre-Millenial return of Christ. Often they read like they just copy one another, and are more interested in telling there own pet theories than in telling a story.

Father Elijah is compelling, written at above an 8th-grade reading level. It is heavy on theology, phi
Frederick Frankel
This is the second of the 2 great modern Catholic novels that speculate about the Apocalypse. The first, Lord of the World, was written around 100 years ago, while the second was written in the late 20th century. Both novels describe the world of the 1990s.

O'Brien's work spends more time struggling with the mystery of evil, as makes sense for a writer working in the latter part of the 20th century. He sees Communism, Fascism, the Holocaust, and the reestablishment of the State of Israel as truly
Miss Clark
3.5 stars

Pretty sure this was read in 2004.

The action portions of the story, the car chases and sinister plots, were definitely not the author's strength. But he excels at writing the quiet, crucial interior journey that Father Elijah is on throughout this story. Seeing Father Elijah's choices and transformation was amazing.

I loved the LOTR references in this book.

My favorite of all of O'Brien's books.
Jan 03, 2016 Eric rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stellar! The best book I've read all year.

The little nuances of Catholicism are beautiful and the spirituality and mysticism are deep. I strongly recommend this novel to anyone of devout Christian faith. If not, there are a few important ideas that are lost on the reader.
Courtney Oppel
Feb 20, 2014 Courtney Oppel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a book editor (and book addict since I first learned to read), I have to say this is one of my favorite books of all time, and one of VERY few I've ever read twice. It's an incredible experience. Period. Some of the dialog in this hefty tome will stretch your mind and reach to the depths of your soul. How many authors would attempt a serious dialog between a priest and an antichrist? Despite how "out there" such a scene would be, this author makes it so real that your heart is in your throat. ...more
Jim Corcoran
This book is a good page-turner at face level, but under its thriller veneer attempts something a little scary. The Church is huge. 1.2 billion members. With that size will come a plurality of opinions. This book seems to present people who ask questions as dangerous. The Church needs a dose of feminism to keep it sane on earth. The Church needs dissenting opinions to initiate meaningful dialogue. The Church needs doubt to lead us to a more adult, well-thought belief in God. They are not crimes, ...more
Feb 18, 2010 Diane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Apocolyptic thriller, set in the present time, in which a priest is asked by the Pope to try and convert a man who he believes to be the anti-Christ. The story also delves into the priest's past. He is a Jewish convert, a holocaust survivor, and a former statesman.

I really liked the character development in this book. The author is very honest about the characters' struggles, and they are all very believable. The book also featured the most moving conversion scene I have ever encountered in lite
Aug 04, 2009 Betsy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an incredible book by Michael O'Brien about the anti-christ. While the book is fiction, it gives a credible account about how the Apocolypse might happen. O'Brien, a native Canadian, was inspired to write this book when the government of Canada was passing un-Godly legislation. The author was praying infront of the Blessed Sacrament and in his despair was asking God how He could abandon Canada, when there were so many devout Catholics there. God's reply was the inspired story of Father E ...more
Dec 05, 2015 Jared rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a very interesting book. I've never read anything like it--part political thriller, part philosophical treatise, part spirituality, part apocalyptic vision, part exploration of ecclesiastical issues. It brings in all these different elements and somehow still works as a cohesive story. I can't say that everyone would enjoy it--it does contain a good deal of introspection and philosophizing, and as the main character is a priest (as are many of the side characters), there are multiple po ...more
Tom Aumeg
Aug 28, 2015 Tom Aumeg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first Michael O’Brien book, and there are things I don’t like. His conversations feel wooden, his heroes all seem to be priests (who are in short supply in Churches. That’s where they’re needed), and everything is presented from a perspective that is more than Catholic. It would have to be called Clericalist. His presentation of Vatican intrigues is, well, intriguing, though not nearly at the level of someone like Malachi Martin, who sets the standard for that stuff.

With that out of
Melvyn Foo
Catholic apocalyptic literature: if such a genre exists, then this novel epitomises it; if not, it spearheads it. The catholicity of this novel is amazing. And that intrigue was sustained by a spy-doomsday-novel-esque plot. These aspects cured the slower parts of the book; the novel sometimes read more like a spiritual treatise than fiction.

Which is my major critic of the book: it tries too hard to make its point, at the expense of character consistency and plot smoothness. Dialogue dropped my r
Fr. Ryan Humphries
May 16, 2014 Fr. Ryan Humphries rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone.
Recommended to Fr. Ryan by: Sonia Moulard
Easily one of the most important books of my spiritual development and a great mystery novel to boot. The story has some holes and lags a little places, but it's a well put together, highly relevant story that is very much in line with the Catholic expectation of the last days. Strongly recommended.
John O'Brien
Oct 12, 2015 John O'Brien rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm rating my father's novels here as a fan. But I think I'm going to decline writing a review for now, due to my kinship with the author. Suffice to say, I look forward to his books as much as anyone else, and find them deeply moving. I am not unaware of their flaws, but their strengths surpass them, and so abundantly, that I find them almost moot. If I find myself choked up and in tears only once in a novel, I tell him it's not his best work. I'm normally moved at a deep level 3-4 times per no ...more
Dec 31, 2014 Ruthann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in the subject
I thought the story explored wonderful territory that I'd never read about before and which was of high interest to me. (I mean: who isn't secretly interested in the end times?) And the protagonist, accidentally become so because of the "interesting time" in which he lived and the accident of his birthplace. Oh, yeah. And he became a Carmelite friar and priest, though this doesn't figure much in the story. I would give this 5 stars except for one teensy thing: it didn't end. Silly me expecting s ...more
I think the author is a good writer, and does a good job pulling one in to the story. I do not however, like apocalyptic novels. I would have enjoyed it more if it had been the reader's digest condensed version - he was too loquacious for my taste. I also didn't like that I read almost 600 pages, and got zero resolution. I was disappointed with the ending. Obviously he was setting it up for a sequel, which is now out, but it just felt pointless and like a waste of time to me. I read this book, b ...more
Feb 06, 2014 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't usually read introductions carefully, but once I'd read and then re-read this book I sort-of-accidentally read the introduction and it eased much of the disquiet I'd had about the book. O'Brien explains that he has written an apocalypse, "a work of literature dealing with the end of human history." This is a subject over which much ink has been spilled, and most of it has struck me as both alarmist and ridiculous. O'Brien clearly knows that he is at risk of getting himself lumped with th ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 74 75 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Pierced by a Sword
  • The Spear
  • Lord of the World
  • Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives
  • The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ: From the Visions of Anne Catherine Emmerich
  • Mr. Blue
  • The Shadow of His Wings
  • Surprised by Truth
  • I Believe in Love: A Personal Retreat Based on the Teaching of St. Therese of Lisieux
  • Prayer Primer: Igniting a Fire Within
  • Consoling the Heart of Jesus: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat- Inspired by the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius
  • Introduction to the Devout Life
  • The Courage To Be Catholic: Crisis, Reform And The Future Of The Church
  • Our Lady of Kibeho: Mary Speaks to the World from the Heart of Africa
Michael D. O'Brien is a Roman Catholic author, artist, and frequent essayist and lecturer on faith and culture, living in Combermere, Ontario, Canada.
More about Michael D. O'Brien...

Other Books in the Series

Children of the Last Days (7 books)
  • Strangers and Sojourners
  • Eclipse of the Sun
  • Plague Journal (Children of the Last Days)
  • Sophia House
  • A Cry of Stone
  • Elijah in Jerusalem

Share This Book

“Man projects his wounds upon the world, my friend. He judges everything, and in the judging he reveals himself.” 4 likes
“It is about a dragon and a prince and a princess.” “Oh, lovely! Does it end happily?” “Happily for the humans. Not so well for the dragon.” “Just as it should be. Commence.” 3 likes
More quotes…