Diane's Reviews > Father Elijah: An Apocalypse

Father Elijah by Michael D. O'Brien
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's review
Feb 23, 13

bookshelves: christian-fiction, kindle, read-in-2012, theology, favorites, catholicism-fiction
Read from April 16 to 24, 2012

** spoiler alert ** This is the best book I read in 2012.

Father Elijah: An Apocalypse is a novel about postmodernism, the end of history, and the proper role of the Church at this time. The protagonist, Father Elijah Shafer, is a Carmelite priest well acquainted with the evil that men do. Years before, Father Elijah was David Shafer, a young Jewish boy living in a Warsaw ghetto. When David’s family was sent to Treblinka, David hid, and finally, if narrowly, escaped. After the war, David Shafer became a successful lawyer in Israel, and was beginning to enter political life, when his pregnant wife was killed by a terrorist bomb in a crowded Jerusalem marketplace. Following a period of truth-seeking, David converted to Catholicism, became a priest, took the name of Elijah, and retreated into a monastery at Mt. Carmel. The novel begins when Father Elijah receives a summons from the Vatican. He is to travel to Rome for a private meeting with the Pope.

Outside the seclusion of the monastery, Elijah learns that a new and powerful politician has arisen on the world stage. The new European President is intelligent, sophisticated, and charming. He promises once and for all to end war and hunger, and to raise mankind to a higher level of life. He is the man of the hour, respected and popular all over the world. And of course, he is also a master of appearances, a liar, a murderer and a concealed tyrant. The Vatican believes he is the Antichrist. Elijah’s mission? To penetrate the President’s defenses, repeat for him the Gospel message, and tell him he must once and finally choose. The story which unfolds is filled with tension, political intrigue, espionage, mystery, murder, mysticism, and a lot of smart and intriguing dialogue about good and evil, postmodernism and faith.

The middle chapters of this book are beautifully written, and read like a novel within a novel. Elijah travels back to Warsaw for a conference on archeology, and in a very concrete way, he confronts the specter of his past. In Warsaw, Elijah hears both lies and truths about his past which are supposed to shock and horrify him, but Elijah’s response is to forgive and grant absolution.

The confrontation between Father Elijah and the President takes place at about 90% of the way into the novel, and culminates in the President’s choice and Elijah’s acceptance of what is now to come. The end of the novel is mystical and apocalyptic, with passages taken from the Book of Revelation. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in reading smart apocalyptic fiction written from the Catholic point of view.

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