The Vatican Prophecies by John Thavis (4 out of 5)
Mr. Thavis has an event with us coming up. The book sounded fascinating to me from day one. Thank you to the lovely Meredith for providing me with a copy so I could get it read before the event. It is currently out via Penguin Random House. Mr. Thavis is the former Rome bureau chief for The Catholic News Service, is highly cited by websearch as one of the “leading Vaticanologists”. I didn’t even know Vaticanologists was a word, to be honest. This is a book that’s very easy to get into once you start. Thavis knows of what he speaks and it’s obvious by the book itself. I’m a severely lapsed Lutheran myself, but my father was raised Catholic, so I know of the hullabaloo of the Catholic church and its practices, innumerable masses, and never-ending procedures in the procurement of important related phenomena. I didn’t know to the extent that I NOW do, thanks to this eye-opening book.
It seems like there was a time when you could open the newspaper or turn on your television and hear of a new miracle being proclaimed by the Church. It doesn’t happen as widely as it used to, and this book dives into the processes involved in investigating claims of apparitions, miracles, and the supernatural things occurring in today’s world. Anyone who knows me or reads the blog knows that I’m not a huge fan of religious titles or religion-themed books. I do read them, it’s just not a natural fit for me. This book? Would be an exception to the rule. If the Catholic Church deems something legit (their practice of legitimatizing relics, for example, and the history involved), it will have long-range religious and political consequences. So naturally, they will want to protect their investment. In this case, their reputation and the reputation of the saint or religious figure with whom its tied in with. In tandem with that, they have a highly secretive and involved process for determining whether this is real or fiction. That entire process and its extenuating angles are laid out here, in incredible detail, mapped and choreographed with the knowledge of someone who knows their stuff, and makes it interesting and simple to read. I used to think a book of this scope would bore the hell out of me; instead, the opposite is true. It was enlightening and parts of it just unbelievable (I still can’t get past the relics or what happened to poor Saint Teresa). However, not a dull read in any sense. Exorcisms? They’re covered as well. The Catholic Church has one hell of a balancing act on their hands- the uneasy precipice of whether a “miracle” is the overzealousness of a follower, or whether a “miracle” is the real deal. You get a truer sense of that struggle reading the history and the current state of things, put forth in this book. But the most important thing you can walk away with is a sense of knowledge from having read this book, and you will definitely have that. Mr. Thavis has done a great job getting us inside the Catholic Church and the Vatican, and you almost walk away with a greater appreciation for their methods. I would recommend this if you would like an inside look at how a highly-evolved, respected, and often controversial sector operates their inner sanctum, this is the book you should pick up.