Pope Francis’ name seems to be on the lips of many people. There are so many Catholics who are invigorated by his words and way of life. One of the things that is most surprising is the number of non-Catholic friends who bring him up, and generally with great regard. As I have said in other posts, he has not changed on iota, not one element of doctrine, but he has changed the way that people see the Church, and how people see the papacy.
The Church of Mercy, A Vision for the Church, by Pope Francis (Loyola Press, $16.95, 150pp.) brings together homilies, papers, and audiences from our beloved “Bishop of Rome.” This treasure trove of communiques from the first year of his papacy offers readers a chance to truly spend time with Francis’ as he presses on in his mission of mercy. Pope Francis is tireless in his desire to not only proclaim the merciful love of God expressed in Jesus Christ, but to also orient all of us who are church, to be more merciful people. The Church of Mercy is a primer for anyone who wants to live more deeply in the heart of Christ, bringing light into the world.
If you have been following Pope Francis’ words, much of the content will not be new to you. Do not let this stop you from buying the book! In fact, this should make you want to buy it! This beautifully bound volume – OK, I am a book nerd and things like this do matter to me! It is broken into 10 sections, or parts, each with a different focus, such as A Church for the Poor, Full Time Christians, and Shepherds With “The Odor of Sheep.” One would not have to sit down and simply start at page one and read straight through; you can pick a “part” and spend some time in thought and prayer with our pope.
Over and over we hear Pope Francis’ voice, saying so many of the same things over and over, but always in a new way, with a new twist. Every word is deeply immersed in bringing us closer to Christ, and compelling us to be Christ for others. My nearly-new copy of the book is already on its way to being well-worn! This book will be like a friend who accompanies you on a journey, the friend that you always want to travel with. I am pretty sure that I will get myself an eBook version, so that is always nearby. Yes – it is that good.
Like Jesus himself, Pope Francis is bound to say many things that will have you pumping your fist in the air and thinking “at last!” Until you get to the part where he says something that causes your fist to drop, and your chin and spirits along with it. “Oh,” you may think, “I’m not sure I agree with that.” This is the crucible of our faith, when we all confront the parts of us that lack, well – that lack the mercy to live fully in Christ. This basically includes all of us, so be ready to cheer, and be ready to pray your way into the difficult bits. That is the life of a missionary, a missionary of mercy, finding their way.
And one other thing – I hope that as many non-Catholics buy this book as Catholics! There is wisdom and grace for all who follow Christ, even for those who may not be Christian, but who live lives devoted to healing and mercy. There really is something for everyone here. And if I were a bishop, this is precisely the book I would buy for all my priests.
If you head over to Amazon or Barnes and Noble between now and April 25, and purchase two paperback copies of The Church of Mercy, you can email your receipt to Loyola Press and get a third copy for free. Don’t want two? Find a friend to split it with and figure out a third friend who will receive your third copy! Find more details about that offer, along with links, at this link.
If you leave a comment for this post, you may be eligible to win a free copy in a drawing to be held on Saturday, April 26. Please note that this drawing is only open to those residing in North America. Just leave a comment, all entries must be in by 11:59pm Eastern time, on Friday, April 25.
(NB, to any of you who may think I am being a bit book-review/book-giveaway crazy, well, I am just in a bigger than usual book reading phase, and when I have the chance to offer a free copy, I will always do so! Regular spiritual musings will always be written here as well.)