I’ve had teenagers come up to me, and say with passion, “I wish I read this book earlier. I just didn’t understand. It would have helped me so much.”
The book, Full of Grace: Miraculous Stories of Healing and Conversion through Mary’s Intercession, is evangelizing the youth, praise God. When the book first came out, an 18-year-old named Joel called me from across the United States to speak to me excitedly about the book. And later, he wrote this review:
The first time I read through this book a few months ago, when I was eighteen, I finished it in probably about two and a half hours. I could not put it down. I phoned the author, ecstatic, just to thank her for writing it, and wanted to share it with all my friends. I felt that all of the characters from Papa Jaimé to Angela, were really pouring out their hearts to me, letting me in on their deepest hurts and their greatest triumphs. In an age of skepticism, where people choose to write off anyone who talks about having an encounter with the supernatural as a lunatic or fanatic, what comes across in Christine’s writing is the genuineness of the testimonies. She has made the people so accessible that the reader really has to make an effort not to connect with them.
This is exactly what we need in this present day. This world has gotten too used to the story of Jesus. It says to itself, “Oh Jesus. I know that man. He lived a long time ago, right? He did some nice things, said some nice things, but that’s about it.” A lot of my friends think this way. It’s easy to think this way when you haven’t encountered Christ. When you haven’t met Him, you can have all the knowledge of the Bible in the world, you could have perused every Catholic almanac and all the writings of the saints, but you will not have faith, because Jesus will be living in only your head and will not be allowed to dwell in your heart. Confirmation programs nowadays are run like this. You sit down in a room and read from a dry book about how some ancient people did some ancient things and now we are supposed to believe in it. Yawn!
But the book Full of Grace is not like this. In this book, we see real people facing circumstances that our MTV generation is so used to seeing. What teenage guy, (especially those eighteen and older) doesn’t know about the strip club? How many young people, if they themselves aren’t into drugs and alcohol, don’t have a friend or a few friends who struggle with addiction? The truth is that all of these situations touch all of us and when we are exposed to them every day, we slowly become desensitized to the gravity of them. Full of Grace forces us to look at the culture as it truly is and to admit that things aren’t the way they should be. We are exposed to so much violence on television, but reading about children being burned alive by death squads is hard to reason away. You can’t say, “Those are special effects,” or “That’s just a story.”
But while Full of Grace does not run from violence, promiscuity, and drug use, it does not glorify these things. It does exactly the opposite, showing how Jesus, through His Mother, can step into the murkiest planes of human existence and rescue the lost. Full of Grace is exactly what the title says: full of grace. Every page talks about how the unmerited grace of God takes seemingly hopeless souls and allows them to shine the way the Father intended them to.
The author’s own story touched me in particular. There are so many girls in my life who need to hear that they have a Father who weeps whenever He sees them trade their dignity for fleeting pleasures. Girls are running to guys for approval more and more because our culture tells them they’re inadequate. From an early age, these girls are shown every little thing that they should find wrong with themselves. Without Jesus, they are going to believe that their worth can only be found in the lustful hearts of men. We see this in the author Christine’s story, but we once again see how grace plays a big role in her redemption.
The last thing I want to share is how my second time reading through Full of Grace impacted me. This August, while on a family pilgrimage to Guadalupe, I used the book as a retreat and actually journaled the faith exercises at the end of each chapter. I read a chapter a night and then did the exercises. I just want to say that I experienced a lot of spiritual and emotional healings as a result of this. Our Lady brought out many hurts and wounds that I had hidden away for years, showed them to me, and then lovingly unwound the knots. I want to thank the author for helping close some chapters in my life. I owe her a huge debt.
This book definitely has Our Lady’s hand in it and is a work of the Holy Spirit. Through its pages, many lives will be changed. I hope and pray that as many young people as possible read Full of Grace and experience the power that Jesus has given to His Mother. This book has changed my life for the better, and I am eternally grateful.