A Catholic Novel for 11-15 Year olds, A Review by James Likoudis

Do Catholic Parents know what their young teenagers (especially those in the 11-15 year old range) are reading? Judging by the educational standards in too many of our schools and the obsession of too many youngsters with their I-phones, I -pads to live in their own fantasy world, and their fixation on morally questionable movies and decadent celebrities, such parents often find themselves helpless as they see their young children bombarded by a secular culture which has lost its moral moorings and now glorifies every perversity and evil.

The transformative power of great and good literature inspired by the truths of the Catholic Faith is absent in the offerings of our schools, libraries, other educational agencies, and even parents who rarely objected to such “classics” of public school education as “Catcher in the Rye” which glorify the coarse, the vulgar, and the obscene. It is not too much to say that there is desperate need for good, inspiring, and exciting literature geared to our young, and in conformity with the sound traditional values embodied in the Christian Mystery.

English author Donal Foley who is known for ‘Medjugorje Revisited” and other writings on Marian themes, has written the first of a planned series of fictional books, “The Glaston Chronicles”. The first volume entitled “The Secret of Glaston Tor” (pp. 238) features the adventures of three youngsters, Matt (an American) and his two English cousins Luke and Annie, and Annie’s dog, Toby.

It is a charming and exciting story involving the ancient and ruined setting of the ancient Marian shrine of Glastonbury which was frequented by hordes of medieval pilgrims until it was destroyed in the dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII and his henchman Thomas Cromwell. Glastonbury itself was was visited by many Saints and was replete with pious legends of King Arthur and his Knights, with the Holy Grail ostensibly brought by Joseph of Arimathea to Glastonbury which can boast of possessing the first Christian church dedicated to Our Lady.

There in Glastonbury once termed “the holiest earth in England” can still be seen the Tor, “the strange conical hill just outside the town”. At its summit was St. Michael’s roofless Tower” which was all that was left of another shrine dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel. What has remained of Glastonbury’s great Shrine with its monastery and ancient church is a mystical and magical atmosphere surrounding the Tor which gave rise to wondrous myths and traditions.

It is in encountering the mysterious figure of “Alex” and visiting the Tor Tower that Matt, Luke, Annie, and the dog “Toby are “magically” transported into the past, the occupied France of World War II. There our young heroes meet leading members of the French Resistance and engage in the mission given them of helping a young German couple (the wife a Jewish convert to the Faith), downed RAF pilots, and other refugees escape to England with Nazi troops and the dread Gestapo in hot pursuit. Amidst such daring adventures we view modern youngsters’ coming to grips with prayer (the Rosary), faith, love and compassion, life and death., good and evil.

There is a new church in Glastonbury (St. Mary’s) that was consecrated in 1941 and a Shrine of Our Lady of Glastonbury canonically erected in 1955. The purpose of the Shrine is to encourage the uniting of Christians in England and to make reparation to Our Lord and Our Lady for the crimes committed during the dissolution of the monasteries, and for the resultant religious indifference that marks modern British life. Interestingly, each year sees a growing number of pilgrimages by Catholics, Orthodox, and Anglicans to the modest Shrine of Our Lady of Glastonbury.

“The Secret of Glaston Tor” with its unabashed Catholic atmosphere is a gripping adventure tale that can be recommended for older teenagers as well.