Genre

historical fiction, mystery

Audience

Christian adult

Author’s Worldview

Catholic

Year Published

2018

Themes

St. Francis de Sales, Salesian spirituality, Vatican II, vocation to the religious life

Reviewed by

Courtney Guest Kim

If your new year’s resolution is to do more spiritual reading, but the only books you really enjoy are mystery novels, look no further: Brother Bernard Seif, Salesian monk and author of the Office Of The Dead series has what you’re looking for. Night Prayer combines historical fiction with contemporary mystery to present a narrative with the distinctive flavor of the Salesian tradition. 

The book opens in France in the year 1600 A.D., with the recently widowed Jane de Chantal reflecting, “My spiritual life, such as it is, seems to be the only thing that is helping me to cope with the agony of my present situation…there is a longing in me as deep as life itself for union with the Sacred….” This historical voice continues on to narrate the details of Jane’s correspondence with Bishop de Sales and their co-founding of the Salesian Order.

A parallel, contemporary story features the sleuth of this monastic mystery series, Brother Francis, who is based out of a Pennsylvania monastery. In this sixth book of the series, he travels to China in search of what may prove to be the four hundred year-old missing letters exchanged by St Jane de Chantal and St Francis de Sales.

Over the course of the intertwined narratives, we get both a humorous cast of contemporary characters and a fascinating exploration of the founding of the Salesian community, as well as an exposition of the spirit of Vatican II, when Brother Francis arrives in China and must interact with a foreign culture. The author draws on his own expertise in ancient Chinese medical practices to tie together what initially appear to be disconnected traditions.

At the turn of the 17th century in Europe, an era of blood-curdling religious violence, St. Francis de Sales was remarkable for his advocacy of gentle verbal persuasion instead of force to address differences of belief. The Salesian motto, Suaviter Sed Fortiter (Gentle But Strong) informs the tone of Br. Bernard’s book as well. This book will interest anyone who wants to explore in greater depth the qualities of Catholic spirituality and the history of a religious order.

Get Catholic Books & eBooks for as little as $1 to FREE

Silence by Shusaku Endo

The story that introduced faith to one of the most secular nations on Earth

See No Evil; A Father Gabriel Mystery by Fiorella De Maria

In Post-WWII England, nearly everyone has something to hide—even kill for. Father Gabriel starts uncovering the truth, bringing souls the chance for redemption.

Crusader St. Tommy NYPD Book 5 By: Declan Finn

Detective Nolan embarks on a Crusade against demonic sex traffickers trying to raise a demon.

Tortured Soul by Theresa Linden

Looking for a book that puts Christ not just back into Christmas but into Halloween too? Throw in a dash of ghost story, mystery, and romance and you have A Tortured Soul.

Books for Lent

Deepen your Lenten reflection with these stories of repentance and forgiveness

Death Cult by Declan Finn

St. Tommy continues his fight against the death cult, battling Voodoo priests and zombies along the way.

The Wind That Shakes The Corn: Memoirs of a Scots Irish Woman by Kaye Park Hinckley

Sold into slavery on her wedding night, an 18th-century Irishwoman struggles to free herself from her thirst for vengeance.

Legion by William Peter Blatty

When a boy is crucified, Detective Kinderman finds himself chasing down a murderer who is already dead.

Christmas Spirits by Karina Fabian

A dragon PI and a Faerie nun try to save a businessman from the Ghosts of Christmas.

Siren Spell by Karina Fabian

Immortal dragon Vern can handle anything—until a curse turns him human…

The Phantom Phoenix

A humble phoenix rises from the ashes to clean up corrupt, 1920s Chicago in this thrilling superhero comic

A Bloody Habit by Eleanor Bourg Nicholson

An English lawyer runs afoul of necrotic vampires, and even worse things– Dominican Priests!

Roland West Loner by Theresa Linden

When his evil brothers lock Roland up in a dungeon he finds a locked box hiding a mysterious treasure.

The Other Side of Freedom by Cynthia Toney

A Catholic “To Kill a Mockingbird” if there ever was one.

Murder in the Vatican by Ann Margaret Lewis

Sherlock Holmes teams up with Pope Leo XXIII to solve crimes in the Holy City.

St. Agnes and the Selkie by G. M. Baker

Cast up by the sea. Courted by the king. Followed by danger.

Celtic Crossing by Len Mattano

Relic lost, and faith found.

The Mission of Joan Of Arc by Philip Kosloski, Alexandre Nascimento, and Jesse Hansen

Voyage Comics’ dynamic interpretation of the Life of Joan of Arc is based on the play written by St. Thérèse of Lisieux.

The Singer not the Song by Audrey Erskine Lindop (AKA The Bandit and the Priest)

A priest and a bandit king face off for the fate of a small Mexican town in this thrilling western adventure.

A World Such As Heaven Intended

Amara didn’t intend to fall in love with a Union soldier. Is love even possible in her war-torn world?