by Christine Watkins
Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 2010
Christine Watkins grew up without religion and without a belief in God. Her parents had told her that Jesus was a fairytale and that when you died you became part of the dirt and helped nourish plants. As an adult, she searched in vain for some shred of hope and direction. She explored all sorts of New Age practices and followed the advice of a psychic that led her nowhere. Meanwhile, her promiscuous lifestyle had ravaged her body, leaving her afflicted with cervical cancer. It was at this point that God intervened in her life. Her friend Joseph reached out to her, helped her to pray, and taught her about God. Jesus even cured her of cancer. She completely reformed her life. She earned Master of Theological Studies and Master of Social Welfare degrees and became a spiritual director, bereavement counselor, inspirational speaker and retreat leader. She also developed a deep relationship with Mary as a result of a pilgrimage to Medjugorje.
In “Full of Grace: Miraculous Stories of Healing and Conversion through Mary’s Intercession,” Watkins shares her own and five other incredible stories of lives transformed by God and the miracle of Mary’s apparitions at Medjugorje. While the apparitions at Medjugorje have not been formally endorsed by the Church (and indeed can’t be until they are completed), they meet all the criteria for an authentic apparition. Many Bishops have visited there and Pope John Paul II stated that “Medjugorje is hope for the entire world. And if I were not Pope, I would have been in Medjugorje a long time ago.”
“Full of Grace” is not for the faint of heart. The subject matter includes children dying in the sewers of Columbia, drug abuse, and strippers. The stories, however, have the power to change lives. They show the ability of God to work in the midst of the most horrible situations. As Watkins states, “In telling their stories, these ordinary people opened the door to their extraordinary lives – to a view more fantastic than fiction – and showed how God lifted them into his loving arms, often out of a living hell, and raised them up to the heights.” Each of the stories is followed by questions and a faith exercise, useful for personal reflection or in a book or prayer group.