The Catholic Man’s Carlo Acutis ‘Swag’ List

The Catholic Man Reviews will be back with new reviews in a couple weeks, but for now, as we celebrate the memorial of Blessed Carlo Acutis for the third time since his beatification. As many readers and my friends know, I have a devotion to the young Blessed. Over the past years, several have asked me about materials on Blessed Carlo Acutis. On this occasion of his memorial this year, I compile a list of some materials on Blessed Carlo Acutis for those interested. A number of items I have reviewed, of which the review I will link in this , a number of things, including books I have purchased a read. I hope these materials will help many, particularly young people like myself grow in devotion to Blessed Carlo Acutis.

English Books

  • Blessed Carlo Acutis – 5 Steps to Being a Saint by Mgr. Anthony Figueiredo: This is, in my opinion the ultimate starter book on Blessed Carlo Acutis that anyone who has yet to read up on the young Blessed should pick up and read. It is not heavy on his biography, but really focuses on the spirituality of the Blessed, and how his spirituality is relevant for all peoples today in their universal call to holiness.
  • Carlo Acutis – The First Millennial Saint by Nicola Gori: Now that you understand Carlo’s spirituality, then there is no better biography in English than one from the Postulator, Nicola Gori himself. Reading this biography will help you realize how ‘down to earth’ Carlo’s life was, and how holiness can be attained by the person who truly strives and wants to follow Jesus.
  • Carlo Acutis – A Millennial in Paradise by Fr. Will Conquer: I would say that this book is a merger between the titles by Mgr. Figueiredo and Nicola Gori and is more ideal for a “book club” or devotional group setting. There are questions for discussion and reflection and Bible passages that might facilitate prayer, making it useful for small groups.

Younger audiences will benefit from the following:

  • Carlo Acutis – The Boy Who Knew by Corinna Turner: The storyline is fictional, but the retelling of Carlo Acutis’ life weaved throughout the story is real. It gives younger audiences a deeper outlook of hope of a model of holiness in Blessed Carlo Acutis, and also fosters devotion to him, particularly through the Novena to the young Blessed.
  • Dare to be More, The Witness of Blessed Carlo Acutis by Colleen and Matt Swaim: This book is more ideal for a senior elementary school, or junior high school classroom setting. The language is really easy to read, and has challenges geared to give young people tool to help ground them in a deeper spiritual life based on the spirituality of Blessed Carlo.
  • Holy Heroes Carlo Acutis Series: I have personally not read or used any of the materials from Holy Heroes, but I do hope to review them one day on this blog alongside the many titles I have featured on this blog. I see there is a book on Carlo Acutis, as well as an audiobook and even a colouring book. The reviews I have seen on the web has been very positive. Let me know in the comments below if you have read or used any of Holy Heroes’ Carlo Acutis materials.

Other titles include:

  • Originals, not Photocopies: Carlo Acutis and Francis of Assisi by Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino: The Bishop of the Diocese of Assisi, Archbishop Sorrentino, the diocese which is now home to the remains of Carlo Acutis, wrote this little short book on the spirituality of Carlo Acutis contrasting it with the spirituality of Francis of Assisi. A beautiful short read which I recommend. You can purchase it from the bookshop of the Sanctuary of the Spoliation, Assisi, the ‘shrine’ to Blessed Carlo Acutis, as well as where his tomb is located. Profits go to support charitable works.
  • Highway to Heaven: A Spiritual Journey through the Life of Blessed Carlo Acutis by Ephrem Kunnappally: Quite an insightful read on the life of Blessed Carlo Acutis, and verified by Nicola Gori, the Postulator of Carlo Acutis’ Cause as well as Ms. Antonia Salzano, Carlo Acutis’ mother. However, the English in this book is a little difficult to read – I hope it will be further edited in future editions.
  • Carlo Acutis, the Servant of God: Life beyond the Border by Francesco Orchetta: I would say that this is one of the first English books on Carlo Acutis. It is brief biography of him, but informative with many photographs.

Devotional Items

  • Artesanato Costa’s Carlo Acutis Statue: This is by far my favourite and high quality statue of Carlo Acutis, made in Brazil, the country that produced the first miracle that paved the way for Carlo Acutis’ beatificaiton. Statues come in 30cm and 60cm sizes. Please note, that as of the time the review was written, shipping was not yet offered internationally. For confirmation, do contact them via their WhatsApp – they are very responsive to their communications.
  • Editrice Shalom’s Carlo Acutis Statues: Editrice Shalom has produced a wide variety of Carlo Acutis statues, made in Italy. I have never seen them for myself, but if you do own one, feel free to let us know in the comments.
    • Search results here.
  • Editrice Shalom’s Carlo Acutis Portraits: I did a Carlo Acutis shopping spree last year, and bought a variety of holy cards and prints of Carlo Acutis’ official Beatification portraits for low prices. All of them are printed with lamination so they can last for years to come.
    • Search results here.
  • Editrice Shalom’s Carlo Acutis Medals: By this point, you can see how much of a shopping spree I did at Editrice Shalom, simply because they have the widest array of Carlo Acutis related items, directly from Italy. I bought a silver-plated medal of Carlo Acutis, as well as a keychain – both of high quality. The medal I attached on my Rugged Rosary I bought some time later.
    • Search results for medals here.
    • Rugged Rosary with Carlo Acutis medal review here.
    • Keychain here.
  • Catholic Prayer Cards’ Carlo Acutis Medal: This is a high quality but most economical Carlo Acutis on the market, made in italy. I have one attached to my Breviary cover’s zipper. The family who owns Catholic Prayer Cards are amazing people – it is a pleasure to purchase Catholic prayer cards and medals from them.

Review: For Love of the Church – A Festschrift on the Interests and Accomplishments of His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Collins

While a majority of our blog readers are American, I believe my ordinary, Thomas Cardinal Collins, Archdiocese of Toronto deserves a spotlight on this blog. Probably, one of the perks during my time as a part-time sacristan at St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica (2019-2021) was being able to frequently hear homilies from my Archbishop. It was a captivating 15-minutes every time Cardinal Collins went to the ambo to give the homily at the Masses which he celebrated. When churches were closed in March 2020 until June 2020 due to COVID-19, Cardinal Collins was preaching at his Daily Masses everyday from the Cathedral ambo, though to an empty Cathedral nave, but these homilies would reach thousands via livestream. His zeal for preaching and teaching the Word of God in the homily, and in a special way via his Lectio Divina series, has served as a point of spiritual and intellectual inspiration for many, including myself.

This year, 2022, marks Cardinal Collins’ 75th birthday – the age which bishops submit their resignation to the Holy Father (Code of Canon Law 401 §1). This year also marks 15 years of Cardinal Collins as Archbishop of Toronto (2007). To celebrate this great milestone year, Novalis has published a festschrift on the “interests, and accomplishements of His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Collins,” titled For Love of the Church. Now “what is a festschrift?” you might be asking. This title from Novalis was the first I have heard of the term, and I am certain many of our readers are asking the same. It may seem like a festschrift is just a fancy word for an anthology of essays and articles. However, it seems that it is more than a mere anthology:

a collection of essays or learned papers contributed by a number of people to honour an eminent scholar, esp a colleague

Collins English Dictionary

The scholar here is Cardinal Collins. “Cardinal Collins, a scholar?” Yes – and his biography on the Archdiocese of Toronto website proves this with his education degrees:

  • Bachelor of Arts (English), St. Jerome’s College, Waterloo, Ontario
  • 1973 Bachelor of Theology (B.Th.), St. Peter’s Seminary, London, Ontario
  • M.A. (English), University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario
  • Licentiate in Sacred Scripture (S.S.L), Pontifical Biblical Institute, Rome
  • Doctorate in Theology (S.T.D.), Gregorian University, Rome
    • Dissertation: Apocalypse 22:6-21 as the Focal Point of Moral Teaching and Exhortation in the Apocalypse, Director: Rev. Ugo Vanni, SJ.

This festschrift is consisted of 20 essays divided into 5 sections:

  1. Scripture and Literature
  2. Spirituality
  3. The Church in Modern Times
  4. Seminary Formation
  5. Accomplishments

I will go through each of the sections, and how relevant they are to the ministry of Thomas Cardinal Collins in my capacity and observations, and also from my own experiences of hearing Cardinal Collins’ homilies and talks at various events. I see this festschrift as an expansion of the topics Cardinal Collins references in his homilies and talks. It is better to understand the texts of this volume, I think, if one has been exposed to a variety of Cardinal Collins’ homilies, talks and pastoral letters. It might be said that without prior knowledge about the interests and accomplishments of the Cardinal, this festschrift may be more like an academic textbook, journal or anthology. I must admit that reading this volume as an undergraduate student in the humanities is helpful with some background in academic reading. Someone in other non-humanities disciplines or those who might have little interest in Christian Theology, may find some of the readings difficult to get through due to the academic tone in some of them. For such readings, I advise spending the time to read slowly, and carefully. It might be helpful to make notes in the margins.

1. Scripture and Literature

Cardinal Collins is a scholar of Scripture. He has a Licentiate in Sacred Scripture (S.S.L) from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, and also a Doctorate in Theology (S.T.D.) from the Gregorian University in Rome with a focus on the book of Revelation, as evident in his doctoral dissertation, Apocalypse 22:6-21 as the Focal Point of Moral Teaching and Exhortation in the Apocalypse. His love of the Scriptures is also made evident in his Lectio Divina series he has done in both Edmonton and Toronto. He always promotes the reading of Scripture – holding a red-cover New Testament, “My bible is red, because the bible is meant to be read,” and encouraged the people of the Archdiocese, “Read a chapter of the Gospels everyday.”

If the Cardinal is not quoting Scripture, or a saint, then as someone with an MA in English, he quotes from literature… I can recall more than one homily which had a reference from the works of Dante Alighieri. The Cardinal is a “devoted fan of Dante.” Many homilies would begin and/or conclude with some form of poetry and rhetoric. There is some special zeal that comes out the Cardinal everytime he reads poetry…

The first five articles of the festschrift ties in the biblical themes from the book of Revelation, transformation, knowing the Lord, unity with Christ and the Church, and Dante. These are all themes one will likely have heard the Cardinal make some connection or reference to in his homily.

2. Spirituality

There are several saints whom Cardinal Collins have a great devotion to, and mention them frequently in his talks and homily. The next three articles of this festschrift speaks to some of these figures: St. Augustine, Sts. John Fisher and St. John Henry Newman. All three essays speak to a mere dimention of one of these saints, whether it be the saint’s own thoughts, writings or a deep conversation – like the essay, Spiritual Notes for a Secular Age: In Conversation with John Henry Newman and Charles Taylor by Dr. Donald Graham – which provides grounds for further thought on what secular age really means, and the three keys to live as a Christian in this age.

These three articles tie in the past challenges of the saints, while giving us guidance on how to live holiness in the world that we live in today. Cardinal Collins’ homilies have always strived to give some ‘food for thought’ for the listeners, because that is our ultimate vocation – to be saints – and not to hold on to the passing things of this world.

3. The Church in Modern Times

The first two themes drew from themes that I would say, come from the homilies, talks and speeches of His Eminence. The third section, The Church in Modern Times shifts gears to speak about the themes that you might find in a talks outside of homilies, in a setting like the Cardinal’s Dinner, or maybe a talk at the March For Life in Ottawa. The five essays contained in this section speak to a variety of topics that surround the Church in Canada, and in Toronto specifically: The uniqueness of Eastern Catholicism (specifically liturgy), comparison of the Diocese of Toronto during the time of Michael Power and today, the Church experience from an African perspective, Catholic-Jewish Relationsinn Canada from the 1990s-2020, and finally, a “hot” topic in Canada, “care of the elderly at the end of life.”

This whole section is like a time-capsule: It gives one a context to the state of the Catholic Church in Toronto during the tenure of the Cardinal Collins. Every predecessor of Cardinal Collins faced unique issues to their respective time period, and only time will tell what type of concerns Cardinal Collins’ successors will face and need to address. It is so important to be able to understand the circumstances of a certain time so to avoid drawing our own uneducated assumptions on a specific leader. I think these five essays touch on these various topics and concerns that were at the heart of the Cardinal, and gives a unique picture of the Church in Canada during his time as both Archbishop of Edmonton and Archbishop fo Toronto.

4. Seminary Formation

It may seem a little biased that the Seminary gets a whole section in this festschrift, especially considering that most of the contributors are professors at St. Augustine’s Seminary. However, the seminary is truly close to the heart of Cardinal Collins, because as Fr. Edwin Gonsalves points out in his Afterword, “…[Cardinal Collins is] fully aware that these [seminarians] are the future of the Church – men who are our future priests and bishops.” It is also of no surprise that this section is present given that he spent a good number of years from 1978 to 1997 serving in various positions at St. Peter’s Seminary in London, as a professor, Dean of Theology, Vice-Rector and as Rector up until his episcopal ordination. Many of the seminarians who I have been blessed to know throughout the years have testified to the Cardinal’s love for the Seminarian, and his frequent visits there. Besides the seminary, Cardinal Collins has been a promoter of priestly vocations in his diocese, hosting a breakfast, gathering young men all across the Archdiocese a couple hours prior the Archdiocesan Priestly Ordinations at St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica. He also makes time to speak at the Come and See event at St. Augustine’s Seminary and speaks at the annual Ordinandi Luncheon – a youth event to promote vocations to high-school students in Catholic Schools, which precedes the Ordinandi Dinner which takes place in the evening.

Though comprised of three essays, this section does not speak about how to train men to the priesthood. While two of the articles speak to more technical aspects of formation: homiletics and spiritual direction, the first essay of the three covers a topic that is fairly interesting, In Persona Mariae: Another Mary for Another Christ – Women as Marian Successors in Seminary Formation by Dr. Josephine Lombardi. Women can be seemed to be left out of the picture of designing a seminary formation program. However, Dr. Lomabardi, herself a professor of St. Augustine’s Seminary, recognizes women’s potential role co-minister/housemoterh, as leader, teacher, counsellor/advisor, lay preacher, comforter/intercessor, and ultimately, models of goodness. These are not just mere roles women can take on in the process of forming men in the seminary, but these are roles that exemplify Mary’s role in salvation because she herself had all of these roles. Inclusion of women in serminary formation is therefore, crucial and should be more widespread. Through that, a ‘Marian continuation’ takes place as women becomes “Mary’s successors, reavealing her presence and unique genius, advising and informing decision making at every level of seminary governance.” (Lombardi 338) Dr. Lombardi’s article gave some fairly interesting and thought provoking insights, at least for me, especially in a time when women are being appointed in dicasteries and positions in the Church where they will have more say and voice.

5. Accomplishments

There are twenty essays in today, but only the last five are dedicated to Cardinal Collins. These articles in a sense tie in all of the interests indicated in sections 1-4, and gives them context of where it fits within Cardinal Collins’ ministry. These chapters gave me much insight into the episcopal ministry of Thomas Cardinal Collins. I have deeply admired Cardinal Collins for many years, not just because he is my ordinary, but because of his care, concern and zeal in his ministry. The first of the five essays speak to the “Alberta Years,” which really gave me a lot more context to Cardinal Collins’ ministry in Toronto – it was really like a game of connecting the dots: You need to read the essays of his interests, his spirituality to understand his accomplishments and the why of what he does as Archbishop. It is in understanding who Cardinal Collins is, getting where he is coming from when he speaks, to understand why he speaks in a certain tone, certain voice, certain style and certain “drama” at events like the Cardinal’s Dinner.


Once again, I am biased to give a review of this book, because Cardinal Collins is my ordinary… but in all honesty, this festschrift only helped me to appreciate my ordinary, Archbishop Thomas Cardinal Collins a lot more for the person he is. Thanks be to God! I have always been a “fan” of Cardinal Collins, and truthfully wish he receives more publicity for his accomplishements on the news. But this festschrift convinces one that he doesn’t need this sort of glamourous attention on the news. Cardinal Collins does what he does, not only out of responsibility as Archbishop of Toronto, but he is urged on to act “For Love of the Church.”

Thank you, Cardinal Collins for all you do for the Church. And thank you Novalis for publishing this festschrift – hopefully others in the Archdiocese of Toronto will come to appreciate their shepherd more, and pray for him.

To purchase and read more details on For Love of the Church, click here.

Click here to read an article on this festschrift from the Archdiocese of Toronto Blog.

Click here to read an article on this festschrift from St. Augustine’s Seminary.

Disclaimer: Vincent Pham was provided a review copy of For Love of the Church: A Festschrift on the Interests and Accomplishments of His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Collins to provide an honest review of it on this blog. The Catholic Man Reviews thanks Novalis for the opportunity for us to review this title on our blog and look forward to future reviews. All thoughts and opinions expressed in here are our own and reflect our sincere thoughts about the title.

Book Review: The Catholic Faith – An Introduction to the Creeds

At the Easter Vigil Mass Catholics renew their Baptismal Promises and make the Profession of Faith in a question-and-answer form. Moreover, Catholics profess their faith at the Mass every week on Sundays through the recitation of the Nicene or Apostles’ Creed. Yet what is it, really, that we say and profess in the Creed? Do we take the Profession of Faith seriously? Or do we go through the motions each time we recite the Creed or Renew our Profession of Faith?

I think it is easy for us to fall into the trap of routine, not only with our prayer, but also with our own profession of faith. It seems that Catholic authors, Steve Ray and Deacon Dennis Walters understands the need for some sort of “review” of the Creed and Faith that we profess in writing, The Catholic Faith: An Introduction to the Creeds. This book is one that I recommend, not only to those new to the Catholic faith, but a great resource to have beside your copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church

Perhaps a question we rarely ponder when reciting the Creed is: Where did it come from? In what context was it written in? Some may say that it came from a specific ecumenical Council, but rather, these statements of the faith derive from the time of Jesus and His earliest followers… just read the New Testament and we will see how many Credal statements there are scattered throughout. The first two chapters are dedicated to speaking about the roots, developments and needs addressed at a certain point in Christian history which gave way to a formation of various Creeds and formulae of the Profession of Faith. 

Chapters three through to seven are what makes up the meat of the book, as both authors dedicate these chapters to a thorough break-down of the Creed, specifically the forms of the Apostles and Nicene-Constnatinople (commonly abbreviated in layman’s terms as the “Nicene Creed”). Both authors draw on Scripture as their foundation, but speaks to our beliefs in light of the Tradition of the Church. This is so important in speaking of the Deposit of Faith within Catholicism, because what we believe in is not solely based on the Scriptures, but through the Tradition of the Church too – the two are so essential to understand the derivation of the truths of the faith.

And no fear, I found the language to be simple to understand, and also, fascinating to read. I was amazed at how much I took my faith for granted, and how there are things in the Creed in relation to Scripture that I just failed to connect-the-dots. I say: consider this a review of what you learned in Catechism class, but in a different way, as Ray and Walters gives you new insight to what you thought you knew well, but in reading, realize still have gaps here and there in understanding what the Church believes in. 

The last chapter is apologetical in its nature as it discusses some common objections to the Creed. Who knows, you might come across some of these points in passing on an online forum or conversation and so, it is good to have some of these answers in mind. But moreso, it is important Again, very easy to read and follow. I recommend you take notes as you read, especially notes in bullet form for your own reference and knowledge.  

To supplement the contents, the Appendix contains a Short list of Creeds and Glossary. I was amazed to see how many Creeds the Catholic Church has, and it has come in a variety of forms throughout various points in history. How beautiful is a our Catholic Faith!

I certainly recommend this book, or at least give it a read after exams. I hope it will help you when you recite the Creed at Mass or within any prayerful context, because it is just so important to understand what we say and do. 

To learn more and purchase The Catholic Faith: An Introduction to the Creeds, click here.

The following is a video version of the review, produced by the Newman Catholic Students’ Club – University of Toronto.

Disclaimer: Vincent Pham was provided a review copy of The Catholic Faith: An Introduction to the Creeds to provide an honest review of it on this blog. The Catholic Man Reviews thanks TAN Books for the opportunity for us to review this title on our blog and look forward to future reviews. All thoughts and opinions expressed in here are our own and reflect our sincere thoughts about the title.

Book Review: Simon Godsell’s “Everything”

This review sent me down memory lane to childhood. I read a lot of picture books back then so it felt like I was reconnecting with a part of myself I had forgotten about. Today’s review is of Simon Godsell’s “Everything” which you may have correctly guessed is a children’s picture book. I don’t think we’ve ever reviewed anything quite like this.

This book is a very simple read despite there being quite a few pages for a children’s book (just under 50 pages). That being said, some of the words used are longer, so I would recommend this book for children that have been reading for a while. I think children that have only started learning to read will struggle a bit, so perhaps this is a book best read with an adult at least the first time around. The book conveys the central theme of how everything is a result of God’s work in a way that I think children can grasp, so I think the book is also a good option for people that wish to read aloud to children. In this way this book can also be suitable for children that can understand English but not yet read. There are also mentions of dinosaurs and outer space which are topics that often capture the imagination and interest of children. For this reason, “Everything” a nice way to connect what a child is interested in to something important that they may not otherwise think much of.

This book reads like poetry to me. There is some rhyming, juxtaposition and repetition of both sounds and whole words. The poetic aspect of the way the book was written makes it really satisfying for me to read. This use of literary devices prevents the book from being a dry read, particularly because there really is no plot to this book.

I find the illustrations really cute and appropriate for a children’s book. The art style is very simple without taking away from what is being depicted; I don’t find myself doing any guessing as to what it is I am looking at. I also think the simplicity of the style creates a sense of approachability for children. My inner amateur artist also thinks that this more (for lack of better word) abstract style can help expose children to art that is not classical/realist art. This is important to me – as beautiful classical/realist art is, there is not one “right” kind of art and I think we risk stifling children’s creativity by limiting the kind of art they see.

Overall, I would recommend Godsell’s “Everything” if you saw a sneak peak of it, are curious, and like the message behind the book. If you would like to purchase your own copy you can do so here.

Learn more about Simon Godsell’s work here.

Some words from The Catholic Man (updated May 15, 2022): Thanks, Ivy, for delivering a review that considered a number of unique aspects of this beautiful children’s book by Simon Godsell. Before reading the description of the book, I realized the book was inspired by the hymn, All Things Bright and Beautiful by Cecil Frances Alexander, which speaks to the beauty and diversity of God’s creation. I remember being taught the hymn in music class in elementary school. The beauty of God’s creation and appreciation for this gift in this “common home” is what Pope Francis emphasizes in Laudato Si’. Everything by Godsell is a step to introduce children to the message of Laudato Si’, I think. This is an approachable, very child-friendly text and illustration that allows children to be aware of the work of God the Creator. Thank you, Mr. Godsell for allowing my sister and I opportunity to review this beautiful children’s book of yours.

To close, presenting a rendition of All Things Bright and Beautiful:

Disclaimer: The Catholic Man Reviews was provided a review copy of “Everything” to provide an honest review of it on this blog. The Catholic Man Reviews thanks Simon Godsell for the opportunity for us to review this title on our blog and look forward to future reviews. All thoughts and opinions expressed in here are our own and reflect our sincere thoughts about the title.

Book Review: Elwood, The Story of a Catholic World War II Hero

Honestly, when Elwood: The Story of a Catholic World War II Hero came at my doorstep some months ago, I was a little hesitant to read it since I was never a big fan of military stories. However, probably one of the best things about running The Catholic Man Reviews are the books you are blessed to have the opportunity to come across by surprise and you have the chance to learn and read a variety of genre of Catholic books.

Interesting enough, as I was reading Elwood, it was also during this time that I began to finally unwind and watch some movies, particularly the Marvel Spiderman movies starring Tom Holland. I have heard much about the franchise, and the trilogy, especially with the release of the latest, Spiderman: No Way Home, but never bothered for years. To understand what the fuss was all about, I took the quest to watch the movies, and most recently culminated with No Way Home. Now, I finally understand why people enjoy watching the Spiderman franchise.

People in general, I think, are interested in two things: stories and heroes. Throughout history, stories have been passed down from generation to generation and many of them, never get tiring to retell and relisten. I am certain that many of our readers here have watched the Spiderman movies more than once… well, at least for me, I would want to rewatch some of the Marvel Spiderman movies, or maybe spend some time exploring more of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies… but I digress. The thing with MCU storylines or heroic stories in general, speak about these people that give us a sense of hope and optimism in a world full of all sorts of distractions, and in many regards selfish. A question for some might be: In a world filled with a sense of hopelessness, whether it because of a pandemic, terror, violence, war… is there such thing as a “friendly neighbourhood Spiderman?”

We might be tempted to respond: No, a friendly neighbourhood Spiderman, or a superhero of MCU level is impossible, they are fiction. And to some extent, yes, despite the fictiousness of these characters, such people who do exemplify the qualities of a superhero do exist, and if not, to a much realer degree than what Spiderman or Dr. Strange can offer.

I don’t know how well Sr. Lucia Treanor, F.S.E. knows about Spiderman, but as author of this inspiring new book published by Our Sunday Visitor, she to a great extent knows about a real-life “friendly neighbourhood Spiderman,” of whom she is a direct relative. Elwood is a story that tells of young man who understood what it was to truly be a Catholic gentleman. His name was Captain Elwood Joseph Euart, who was “born in 1914 in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, the second of seven children in a faithful Catholic family.”

Sr. Treanor provides much insight into this young man’s early life with so much before him. His early life was not without faults and failings, but Elwood was determined to become a better person, a virtuous man. And indeed, virtue, as I was reminded by a Catechist, are good practices that are practised over and over again throughout one’s lifetime. This is made clear in the story of Elwood because in the midst of mistakes, he stoof back up again and persevered. In part, this was due to his dedication and commitment to his own spiritual life, and his family’s firm Catholic roots helped him to stay grounded in Catholicism.

This notion of virtue I find, was important to set the stage for his vocation in the military. There is much context to Sr. Treanor’s book that outlines his time in the military which are not to be skipped over. However, it is the apex of the book that highlights his heroism that struck me and kept me in shivers after reading it: The President Coolidge a large former merchant ship refurbished to hold 5000 soldiers, sank after a terrible disaster: the members of the ship were not told of the U.S. military mines that were placed in advance (to put in layman’s terms). The ship sank, but Captain Elwood Euart, given the chance to get out, made sure that every person on the ship was able to get out before he did, even the sick in the infirmary. On this quest, being able to save every person, when his task was complete and it was his turn to leave the ship, he was unable to – the knot he tied himself to the ship, to save the infirmed men, was tightened, nor was he able to locate his knife. With that, he gave of everything, and he went down with the ship.

“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13) This is the life, certainly influenced by his faith, that Elwood strived to exemplify in his pilgrimage through life. He had the chance to save himself – yet, his thoughts turned to others, especially the most vulnerable. There are two dimensions that we see in the heroic act of Elwood that deserves much reflection in a world dominated by a notion of the “self”, the “ego.” First, it is the obvious selflessness, even unto death, in his leadership position. I remember taking the Leadership and Peer Support class in grade 11 of high school, and the leadership teacher had a beautiful practicing of having the class recite the “Leadership Prayer.” The prayer is beautifully composed, and has the following line, “Leadership is less about the love of power, and more about the power of love.” This is the core of leadership, love and love is to will the good of the other, according to Aquinas – that is better said than done, but Elwood was able to uphold that. Secondly, in a “throw away culture,” that Pope Francis speaks to on many facets, it is easy to forget the most vulnerable in society, and thus, a temptation to leave them behind in isolation, forgetten, or worse, rejection. Elwood then, in his last moments of life upheld the sanctity of life, especially those of the sick, who in the secular world, may be seen as a burden, unable to contribute to the welfare of society.

The story of Elwood, then speaks to the need to be someone more than just the “friendly neighbourhood Spiderman” – we need to get into reality and discern for our lives: Where can I be an instrument of God’s love, bringing hope to the hopeless in my current state of life? The story of Captain Elwood Euart is then, a point of true inspiration in such journey of discernment.

So, what media out there is as exciting as Spiderman: No Way Home, or if not, more exciting (and inspirational)? Elwood: The Story of Catholic World. No, I am not over exaggerating. Sr. Treasor is an amazing storyteller – I was able to imagine and picture many scenes as she lively describes them in her book, as like a movie at a Cinelplex movie theatre rolling through my mind. If this story were ever to be produced as a movie, I would recommend Tom Holland play the role of Elwood.

To learn more and purchase Elwood: The Story of a Catholic World War II Hero, click here.

Disclaimer: Vincent Pham was provided a review copy of Elwood: The Story of a Catholic World War II Hero to provide an honest review of it on this blog. The Catholic Man Reviews thanks Our Sunday Visitor for the opportunity for us to review this title on our blog and look forward to future reviews. All thoughts and opinions expressed in here are our own and reflect our sincere thoughts about the title.