POPE FRANCIS AND OUR CALL TO JOY by Diane M. Houdek (Franciscan Media 2014; supplied by Pleroma
Christian Supplies); $18.99. Reviewed by PAT LYTHE.

Pope Francis Joy

When I received this book to review I thought the Pope’s letter The Joy of the Gospel doesn’t need
a commentary. It is so easy to read and has many passages that urge the reader to take action. In fact, it is a joy to read.
However, for readers who haven’t read papal letters or have found them daunting, this little
booklet is a good way to lead in.
Even for those who have rejoiced in the exhortation, the “essential guide”, as Houdek terms it, does give a background to the document — but more so, gives some concrete examples of how
to apply what the Pope is calling us to be.
She compares Pope Francis to his namesake St Francis and fills out biographical details and assists the reader to reflect on the message he presents. Huge chunks of the Pope’s letter are quoted, then unpacked.
For example, she suggests that our enthusiasm for a sport (currently cricket) has us talking to
strangers on the bus or in a queue, and that’s the sort of enthusiasmwe need to share about
our faith. She expands on his main points, solidarity with the poor, the Church meeting the real
world, discovering Jesus in the Scriptures, preaching among them.
At the end of each chapter she poses a couple of reflection questions leading to action.
As someone who has been quoting from this document weekly in the Fit for Mission slots in parish
newsletters, I found those very useful.
I find myself tempted to quote huge chunks myself in this review, but I will resist.
If you haven’t read the exhortation itself, please do.
If you want a little help to further reflect, get this book, too. But really, Pope Francis doesn’t need a commentary.
Pat Lythe works in the Pastoral Office and is the coordinator of the Pastoral Services team in Auckland diocese.

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