I received “Thank God Ahead Of Time: The Life And Spirituality of Solanus Casey” (by Michael Crosby) through The Catholic Company’s book review program. Today, July 31st, is the same date Solanus Casey said his first Mass and the same date as his death, so I wanted to make sure to post the review today.
I’d never heard of Solanus Casey prior to reading a bit about him in “God’s Doorkeepers,” but he sounded so intriguing that I wanted to hear more. Solanus Casey was a priest in the Capuchin order, born in 1870 and died in 1957. He operated in New York City, Huntington, IN, and Detroit, and his chief responsibility during 60 years as a priest was to act as porter. In this capacity, he became the “face” of the order, and because of his demeanor, his patience and his kindness, shortly people began to line up to tell him anything that was troubling them, and to ask for his prayers. Before long, miraculous healings began to be reported by those who came to him for help.
Solanus Casey could read hearts, meaning he often knew exactly what to say, what to advise, what was not being said, or whether a person was holding back their true intention. Casey’s spirituality was anchored in gratitude, compassion, and love of the Eucharist.
Solanus Casey gets five stars, but the point of the review is to review the BOOK, not the man. So here goes:
The book is adapted from the research Crosby did for the Vatican when it investigated Casey for sainthood. (He’s now “venerable.”) As such, it’s thoroughly researched and footnoted, with none of the hagiographic sense of many saint-biographies. The style is balanced, almost academic but with none of the dryness. In fact, Casey’s humanity comes across foremost, along with compassion for him and those to whom he ministered. The text is very readable. Although there are hundreds of footnotes, most of them are citations and not clarifications (meaning you don’t have to keep flipping to the back of the book for the full story.)
Crosby does not hesitate to discuss some of Casey’s shortcomings, giving a well-rounded treatment to the man as a human being who lived within his culture and his time.
The best part, for me, was how Crosby chronicled some of the changes made in Casey’s spirituality over time. Too often we read about saints as if they were fully-formed by age twelve (unless they had a cataclysmic conversion experience) but Crosby notes at times that a certain trait was just in its beginning stages, or that such-and-such was the first notes of what would become one of the hallmarks of Casey’s later ministry. This documentation of his spiritual progress should be a comfort for all of us saints-in-training who know we have a long way to travel.
I highly recommend this book with five stars.