Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D.
This is a great book for this time of year as we move out of Lent to the time of the Resurrection! As the title of this book states: Rejoice and Be Glad! The book draws on the wisdom of the second Vatican Council’s landmark teaching on the universal call to holiness. Pope Francis addresses all Christian women and men in his latest apostolic exhortation Guadete et Exsultatte and invites them to fully embrace their baptismal call to live the Gospel. The author guides readers through Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation with helpful commentary, additional context and expert insight. Each chapter includes suggestions for prayer and reflection questions which makes reading, Praying, loving Pope Francis’s Rejoice and be Glad an ideal resource for adults, students and faith formation groups interested in learning more about this teaching and exploring their own spirituality.
Pope Francis’s Gaudete et Exsultate (GE) is precisely a concrete application of church teaching. Specifically, it is, as the pope himself states, an effort “to repurpose the call to holiness in a practical way for our own time, with all its risks, challenges and opportunities”(GE2) Rather than introduce a new doctrine or moral teaching, Pope Francis took the opportunity to address the universal church on the theme of holiness in an effort to develop something previously taught by the Second Vatican Council in its Dogmatic Constitution on the church, Lumen Gentium.
These are a few of the key themes worth keeping in mind as you read through the apostolic exhortation and move through the guide:
· Holiness is a universal call rooted in Baptism
· Holiness is a communal mission
· There are false forms of holiness that threaten to distract us from true holiness
· Scripture is the grounding source for Christian holiness
· Holiness is impossible without prayer
Pope Francis consistently reminds us to call on the Holy Spirit, to seek the intercession of the saints who have gone before us, and to move beyond simply saying prayers toward allowing our whole lives to become a prayer. Furthermore, the pope sees prayer (both personal and communal), as the only viable response to the treats Christians face in their journey toward holiness. Each of the chapters has suggestions for prayer, for example, in the last chapter question 2: “Think of some decision—big and small that you are facing right now in your life. Bring that matter to prayer and seek the gift of discernment necessary to make the choice that cooperates best with God.” In the reflection questions in this same chapter, reflection question number 2 “Following the teaching of Jesus Christ, Pope Francis calls us to be vigilant and awake. How might you grow in your vigilance a person of faith on the path to holiness? What are some of the stumbling blocks or challenges for you?” It is a book that can be read individually or communally and share the depth and goodness to the Pope’s call to holiness.