Anni Harry reviews 'The Warning,' a book that also serves as a reminder of the hope we profess as Christian faithful.
For years, I have struggled with Confession. It hasn’t been a typical struggle, though – instead of avoiding the confessional, I have been frustrated because I felt I have never gone deep enough. While I tend to run the risk of becoming scrupulous when I sit too long with the lists found on Examinations of Conscience, and try to find the gray areas at other times, I have been known to use multiple Examinations as I prepare for Confession. Yet, no matter how many Examinations I have used, I have prayed for something to help me go deeper.
Not too long ago, as I followed down a recommended track of videos on YouTube, the book, The Warning: Testimonies and Prophesies of the Illumination of Conscience crossed my radar. I listened to a couple of YouTube videos of the author, Christine Watkins, as she spoke not just of this book, but of her faith and the depth of love for God through the Catholic Church.
A natural skeptic, prone to anxiety, I considered bypassing this book. However, after stumbling on references to it several times in multiple days, I decided I would purchase the book.
Before reading this, I was not familiar with the concept the “illumination of conscience,” nor was I aware that this is something spoken about by several mystics, seers, and saints. The concept behind the illumination of conscience is rather simple: we will each be given the time to examine our consciences, and the sins we have committed, and those actions we have done or failed to do, will be brought to the forefront of our minds. We will see the sins we commit, and as the book was read, became abundantly clear that we will also be awakened to the far-reaching implications of our sins. We will be enlightened of the ripple effect, also known in some philosophy circles as the Butterfly Effect, that our sins have had on the world … and on God’s heart.
Sin separates us from God, and we will feel how God has felt when we separate, even with the “seemingly small” grievances, from His grace.
The Warning shares testimonies from eleven Catholics who have undergone this thorough examination and illumination of conscience. Furthermore, other prominent Catholics, both saints and members of the Church Militant alike, are quoted as they have explained these warnings either in writings or lectures. Yet The Warning isn’t all doom and gloom; rather, it also sheds light, encouragement, and inspiration to the reader woven through the pages of the book.
The author, Ms. Watkins, and the contributing testimonials in the book recommend a General Confession be made, along with staying close to the sacraments. However, the author and the contributors of the book do not address scrupulosity, and don’t annotate how someone who tends toward scrupulosity should approach the concept of a General Confession.
However, as I read these testimonies enclosed in the book, my mind found itself wandering to seemingly smaller things I had done in my past, which allowed me to take those instances into the confessional at my next confession. Ultimately, the book helped me achieve that deeper sense of reconciliation that I have been craving for years.
While many of the testimonies and pages are filled with encouragement and inspiration, this is also a book which may not sit well with someone who has a tendency toward anxiety.
The Warning is written as a loving reminder that we will all be held accountable, but the subject matter is intense. My recommendation to counteract the feelings of anxiety which may creep in, is to take each testimonial and chapter on its own merit… read the entirety of the chapter or testimonial in one sitting, spend time digesting it afterward, and focus on the loving reminder of God’s Infinite Mercy and Love for each of us.
This book, while easy to read, is heavy to digest. And, it is precisely what I need as I continue to deepen my own relationship with God and expression of the Catholic faith.
Ultimately, this book has helped hold a magnifying glass up to both my actions and inactions on a daily basis, which has been the balm needed to continue trying a little harder each and every day.
Finally, The Warning should be read by all Catholics who are searching to deepen their personal relationship with God, fall deeper in love with Christ and His Ultimate Sacrifice, and for those who are ready to enter a new phase in the depth of their love for God through His Church and the sacraments.
The book serves as a warning, but also as a reminder of the hope we profess as Christian faithful. While delivering a dose of admonishment of the sinner, and instruction of the ignorant, it also delivers the remedy of Christ’s salvific love, and calls each of us to enter further into the mystery of the redemption offered by Christ’s Sacrifice.
The Warning is well worth the price to spend on this book, to help us better understand how to learn to love God a little better, how to serve Him with love, and prepare for the inevitable moment in which we will be called to account for our actions and inactions, whether it is in our lifetime, or at the end of our lifetime.
Copyright 2020 AnnAliese Harry
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About the Author
AnnAliese Harry is a proud Army wife to her husband Chris, and a mother to their young children. She has a BA in History, a Masters in Social Work, and has worked with disabled veterans, troubled teens, and in early childhood intervention therapy. AnnAliese volunteers with several military chapel communities and serves as a lector, EMHC, Adoration coordinator, and Catholic Women of the Chapel (CWOC) chapter president and vice president. She blogs about Catholicism, parenting, and military life at A Beautiful, Camouflaged Mess of A Life. Follow her on Twitter, on Instagram, or on Facebook.