Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (

Review: “The Cross and the Water Tower: A Christmas Story”

By Deacon Keith Fournier
December 18th, 2008
Catholic Online (

“The Cross and the Water Tower: A Christmas Story” is a MUST READ and a MUST BUY for all who really want to find Christmas this year and give its gifts to others.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (Catholic Online) - It was December 18, 2008 in the Fournier house. Grandpa Fournier was home, struggling with a migraine, feeling physically, and spiritually, weak. However, there was more to it all. He was struggling with his inability to find Christmas this year.

Oh, he "knew" what the Nativity of the Lord was about and was regularly sharing his thoughts on the theological meaning of the great event which forever changed all human history, with his pen as well as from the Ambo of his parish; to whoever would read or listen. Grandpa is a Catholic Deacon, a writer and an Editor, but he had not yet really found Christmas for himself this year.

He was even praying, everyday, for his heart and home to be open to the grace of this Christmas, December 25, 2008. However, his aging heart was heavy over many things. So much so that he could not even bring himself to look forward to the coming visit of he and Nana Fournier’s (‘Mimi’ to some of the grandchildren) children, children in law and grandchildren for Christmas week. Grandpa was earning the name “grumpy” this year.

Then, something wonderful happened. He read a children’s story sent to him in the mail. And he, for just long enough, was able to grasp at a level much deeper than his theologically trained mind had yet unpacked this year, the meaning of the words of the Master. He had preached and written about them for all these years, but they came alive today in a new way: “Jesus, however, called the children to himself and said, "Let the children come to me and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it." (Luke 15: 16, 17)

“The Cross and the Water Tower: A Christmas Story” gave “Grumpy” Grandpa Fournier his Christmas this year. It roused him from his own self centeredness and opened him to the real grace which is at the heart of this wonderful season, as it is revealed in the heart of a Divine Child born in a manger who still seeks to be born anew in every human heart and every home.

Written by Patrick and Mary Mangen, and simply yet elegantly illustrated by K.P. Sullivan, this treasure of a book will be read to the grandchildren in the Fournier home this Christmas. It is taken right from the headlines and based on a real event which occurred in the little town of Wauconda in 1989. As a lawyer who spent much of his career defending true religious freedom, I understand well the real struggle underneath the story.

However, the timeless message of this book is so much more than the struggle against those who, in the words of Pastor Stevens, “… don’t want to remember Jesus. And they don’t want anyone else to remember Him”. It is a story about Love Incarnate, the kind of Love that loves even those who oppose its expression. The Love of God who, in the words of the Apostle Paul, “never fails”. (1 Cor. 13:8)

This beautifully presented little book is fiction, written from the perspective of children, like the ones whom Jesus called to Himself, and still calls to Himself. It is written for children of all ages. Each of the characters comes to life in the elegant simplicity of the writing. As good children’s literature is meant to do, by using few words, it communicates the joy and adventurous nature of the members of the children’s Water Tower Club, the wisdom of the town’s evangelical minister and holiness of the town’s Catholic priest, the integrity of the Mayor, the solidarity of the shopkeepers…. and even invites compassion and empathy for the sad man who actually seeks to take Christmas away only to find its real meaning at the end in the eyes and the heart of a child.

“The Cross and the Water Tower: A Christmas Story” is a MUST READ and a MUST BUY for all who really want to find Christmas this year and give its gifts to others.

Buy it, before the Day arrives, and read it to your spouse, your children, and your grandchildren on Christmas morning. But most importantly, no matter what your age, read it to - and read it for - yourself and find the One whose Birth we will soon celebrate in the heart of a child.


Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (