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John Paul's living memory.

John Paul II, Lessons for Living. Chicago, Loyola Press, 2004. 100 pp., $12.95 U.S.

Lessons for Living is described as presenting "the essential pastoral wisdom of Pope John Paul II. These short, eloquent selections, culled from more than two decades of the pope's writings and speeches, capture the clarity of John Paul's insight and the fervor of his faith. Each page presents an inspirational lesson that encourages us to draw closer to God ..."

It is a small book containing many useful aphorisms. This one on humanity is typical: Humanity's future depends on people who rely on the truth and whose lives are enlightened by lofty moral principles that enable their hearts to love to the point of sacrifice.

This is a nice little book. I wish it were half the price and more widely available.

The Private Prayers of Pope John Paul II: The Loving Heart. New York: Atria Books, 2004. Translation of Il Vangelo della Sofferenza, published in Italy in 1993. 182 pp., $32.00 Can.

The Private Prayers of John Paul are not really private prayers at all; many of them are public pronouncements--The first entry is a letter instituting the World Day of the Sick and is addressed to the Cardinal President of the Pontifical Council for Assistance to Health Care Workers. It is a translation of an Italian book on the Gospel of Suffering, and an introductory note stresses three themes related to this subject: 1) The Church is a society where those who are suffering find a special welcome. 2) Christianity reveals that pain is not futile; rather it conceals a true meaning and value. Alongside those who suffer there is always a loving heart--a heart capable of beating in tune with that of our brothers and sisters in pain.

This book is really an extended reflection and meditation on suffering. A note on the back cover reminds us of how much John Paul himself suffered in his later years: "I, too, have been assailed by suffering and have known the physical weakness that comes from disability and illness." Yet he says that "no malady, no weakness, no infirmity can deprive you of your dignity as children of God, as brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ." He also writes, "Even in the silence of prayer and confined to bed, you are in communion with the whole world, in order to take part in redemption: our prayer and our suffering help to elevate the world."

This is a book which can truly be called inspirational.

Patti Tasko, ed. Pope John Paul II: Connecting to Canadians. Mississauga, John Wiley, 2005. 116 pp., $18.99 Can.

Lynn McAuley, ed. As Pastor and Brother." In Memory of Pope John Paul II's Visits to Canada. Don Mills, Can West Books, 2005. 128 pp., $32.95 Can.

These two books both deal with the Pope's three visits to Canada: his twelve-day tour in 1984, his five-hour visit to Fort Simpson in Northwest Territories in 1987, and his visit to Toronto for World Youth Day in 2002. The one contains the most prized images from the collection of the Canadian Press, the other photographs and other material from the archives of Can West publications. "Connecting Canadians, "a paperback, has a stunning picture of the Holy Father, robed in white, on its front cover, with youthful hands reaching out to touch him, and a reflective picture of him sitting alone at Elk Island Park on the back. "As Pastor and Brother" 'is a substantial coffee-table book. They both deal with the Holy Father's visits to Canada, both contain excellent photographs of this most photogenic of popes, but the emphasis in them is very different one from the other.

The CP book said that he had his critics: "many were angered by his unbending, conservative stance on social issues. He supported church law banning women from the priesthood and priests from marrying and he maintained a firm opposition to birth control and abortion. Some blamed his stance against birth control for worsening the AIDS crisis in Africa. He endorsed a worldwide campaign to keep same-sex unions from receiving legal recognition." And "Sister Mary Jo Leddy, a prominent Catholic activist, thought that the Pope had ignored subjects of importance to women, not just ordination but work and family issues."

The impression given by this book is that, if only John Paul had followed the progressive line taken by the Canadian Press (and Sister Mary Jo Leddy), he really could have been called John Paul the Great. Pity.

At the end of "As Pastor and Brother," Charles Enman gave an assessment of "The Father Who Changed History" which emphasized his luminosity, compassion and moral firmness. He ends by saying, "His human stature seemed beyond cavil anywhere in the temporal world he served with such zealous spiritual devotion."
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Author:Dooley, David
Publication:Catholic Insight
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 1, 2005
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