An Invitation to Joy

Selections from the writings and speeches of His Holiness John Paul II
Book cover: 'An Invitation to Joy: Selections from the writings and speeches of His Holiness John Paul II'
Greg Burke
Pope John Paul II
Simon and Schuster
Sewn Hardcover
Number of pages: 
223 pages

This beautiful coffee-table book is filled with full-color photos of the Pope and quotes from his writings and talks organized into the following chapters: The Human Family: Youth, Family, Love, Women, Work and Rest; The People of God: Mary, Vocation, Saints, Prayer, Forgiveness, Death and Eternal Life, Other Christians Other Religions, Laypeople; The Dignity of the Human Person: For Life, Human Rights, Solidarity, Freedom, Peace and War, Suffering and Evil with a brief biographical portion entitled "A Lifetime of Devotion". Each chapter and subchapter have a brief commentary by Greg Burke, TIME Magazine's Rome Correspondent, who overviews the Pope's and the Church's teachings on these basic areas of life. The commentaries are quite good and outline teachings on topics such as abortion, divorce, ecumenism and the role of lay people in the Church. Although the commentaries and quotes touch upon difficult topics such as human sexuality and drug abuse, they are handled in a sufficiently thoughtful fashion for me to consider them appropriate for high school or adult reading.

To a certain extent, the book is aimed at those outside the Church who may benefit from the Pope's message and so the text explains concepts like what the Rosary is and basic Catholic teaching on devotion to Mary in a very simple way. To me the book offered a fascinating concept to consider - that the Pope is presenting himself as the authentic spiritual leader of the whole world and presents the basic teachings of Christ in a way unheard of in the past. In these beautiful images of the Pope and his flock can be seen two aspects of the face of Christ. First, Christ as the Good Shepherd who cares for all of his flock - even the least and farthest away. Second, the face of Christ as he taught us in the Gospels to see in the poor and suffering - the least of his brethren. The short biographical portion contains numerous photos of Karol Wojtyla in his childhood, early adult life and his years as a young priest, bishop and cardinal.

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