Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Hero and Saint in Our Own Time

I'll try my hand at a little book review. I just discovered the story of a Catholic priest who is a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient and whose cause for sainthood is under consideration by the Vatican. That in itself was enough to catch my attention on the book jacket at Crossroads. Now, keep in mind, I don't have to work to find books of interest at Crossroads. Just a quick glance can net me at least two must-reads.
This time I saw a book jacket with a photo of a military chaplain in Mass vestments praying with a kneeling soldier. Behind the priest is a Jeep serving as an altar. The book is The Miracle of Father Kapaun: Priest, Soldier, and Korean War Hero. Inside the jacket was a publisher's note comparing the book to works about Fr. Walter Ciszek and St. Maximilian Kolbe. Intrigued, I bought the book and devoured it in just a few days. 
I will say honestly for the sake of my more literary friends, this is not great stylistic writing. It is written by two journalists with more passion for their subject than desire for polished prose. I admit to being a snob about this sort of thing usually. However, the story of this priest is too powerful to make even me quibble about style. Substance certainly wins!
Fr. Kapaun (Ka- PAHN) was as heroic as he was humble. He was a Kansas farm boy called to the priesthood and then called as a chaplain. The soldiers he served tell his story through these journalists with the gritty honesty of combat soldiers. Fr. Kapaun was a POW with these men, and it was in this brutal camp that his Christ-like behavior revealed hope to the men around him. 
I highly recommend the book because we should all get to know flesh and blood heroes before history pins heavy halos on them and we wonder what is really true. Some of the men that told these stories still live on and still remember this modern hero and, just maybe, this saint. 

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