Monday, December 05, 2005

Bookshelf: Remembering John Paul The Great

Peggy Noonan, of whom I am a great fan (she's sort of my icon when it comes to writing), has come out with a sublime and lovely new book: John Paul The Great: Remembering a Spiritual Father . Go to your nearest bookstore and pick up multiple copies of this great volume to give as Christmas presents, and don't forget one for yourself. This little book is chock-full of insights, recollections, and thoughts on the life and work of our late Holy Father and the impact he had on one person's life. But as you read it, I'm sure you'll find parallels to your own spiritual journey, and this book may help guide you on the path towards deepening that faith.

The book covers all sorts of topics, from the Rosary to prayer to the sex abuse scandal in the American church. Noonan discusses the Pope's past, the mysticism that shaped his papacy, the ideas of belief, and what his papacy and death mean to us. There is also the discussion of saints, the "dark night of the soul", his devotion to Mary, and all sorts of other things, including his part in the downfall of Communism and that first, great trip to Poland that marked the beginning of the end for the Communist regime. (Perhaps that's why the pope never got to Russia...barring Patriarch Alesky's opposition, of course...)

The book is profoundyet accessible, written in Noonan's trademark engaging style; the whole work feels like a conversation she's having with you personally. Some of the pieces are taken from her Opinion Journal articles, posted on, and expanded upon (i.e., her piece on the rosary, her piece on the first trip to Poland), which is nice for fans of her column (of which I am one). She writes with obvious love for her subject, which makes it that much more fun to read, because it's not one of the books where the author says, "yes, he was good, but let's not forget the bad parts" and then brings the whole thing down. Noonan mentions some of the "bad" parts of the papacy, but most of the book is just a great ode to a great man, whom she (and many others) saw as her "spiritiual father". Read this book and be inspired to deepen your prayer life and enjoy the legacy of this great man, told by a master wordsmith.

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