Thorlak of Iceland: Who Rose Above Autism to Become Patron Saint of His People by Aimee O’Connell. Illustrated by Sigurbjorg Eyjolfsdottir. San Jose, California: Chaos to Order Publishing, 2018. Paperback. Large Print. xviii + 251. $19.95.
Another time and place, to be sure. But, oh, so relevant for our era!
This is how one could rightly sum up the milieu of Saint Thorlak of Iceland (1133-1193). Canonized on January 14, 1984 by Saint John Paul II (1978-2005), Saint Thorlak is remembered for his outstanding personal holiness and apostolic contributions, both of which are a marvel to consider.
Sanctity and a concern for those who suffer are always in vogue. Although in a location and century much different from ours, at least in part, Saint Thorlak, the Patron Saint of Iceland, gives witness to the perennial values that never become outdated regardless of surroundings or epoch.
Steeped in God’s grace, this humble man, who was ordained to the Holy Priesthood at the age of eighteen, did not allow the challenges of autism to frustrate his generous response to the Lord. He embraced his Catholic Faith and sought the Grace that comes only from Jesus Christ through Mary, His Mother.
Many intricate details of the life of Saint Thorlak, whose Feast is December 23rd, have been lost to history. Nevertheless, we have what is required: sufficient knowledge to appreciate what the Creator accomplished through this priest and bishop. His tireless service edifies almost 900 years later.
I am grateful for a look at some biographical data about the authoress of this book that is provided on the Amazon author’s page: “Aimee O’Connell is the founder of the Mission of Saint Thorlak, an online apostolate inspired by its namesake ‘to understand, recognize, address and prevent spiritual starvation, letting people with autism lead us on our way.’ Aimee brings many perspectives to her writing: she is a Third Order Carmelite, a certified school psychologist, a wife and mother of three, and a person herself who has autism. She has worked in school and day treatment settings as a therapist, psychologist, advocate and consultant, and has authored several articles on autism and spirituality. Aimee currently devotes her days to the continuous discoveries and adventures of homeschooling with her children.”
I join my voice to the many who have thanked and congratulated Mrs. O’Connell on her patience and dogged research. In an age that desperately needs good examples and unfailing outreach to those with autism and all who carry the heavy Cross of Christ, Thorlak of Iceland: Who Rose Above Autism to Become Patron Saint of His People offers hope to all of us.
V. Saint Thorlak of Iceland.
R. Pray for us.