Saturday, September 10, 2011

Review: John Paul II, We Love You

Let’s get this out of the way right up front: For me, this is a terrible book.

I’ve only completed two chapters of the book, but I can write this review without having yet read the rest. I mean, every morning as I read a couple of pages in the chapel, there I am, tears running down my face, sobbing, sniffling, blowing my nose, and generally looking like an old idiot. I’m sure people around me must be thinking: “The old guy’s lost it. Perhaps we should call the guys in the white coats.” This book just does terrible things to me.

Terribly wonderful.

Perhaps the book’s impact is just on me. I’ve read so much of what JPII has written; I’ve heard so many of his speeches; I’ve seen him so many times. And this book brings back all the wonderful memories of those times, the faith-building words, the hope, and the love I felt when around anything this man has done. And perhaps it is also the miracles I know he has worked on my behalf, especially the time when I first prayed to him for his intercession, as my sister lay dying. My prayer to him was answered within the hour, and a great peace overcame all my anxieties. And I knew it was him who helped make it happen. Maybe it’s just for me, that he is a most special man.

But as this book so clearly presents, he is a very special man for so many people.

The book, written by Father Peter Mitchell, is centered around his thoughts and experiences during the last days of Pope John Paul II, and his funeral. Father Mitchell --- “I am a priest of the JPII generation” --- was scheduled to complete his studies in Rome and come home to America, but received permission to stay, and was there in the pope’s last days. His thoughts are written, but even more are the thoughts of many others, of the youths of the “JPII generation.” Their stories of how the pope impacted them with his words, and in so many cases just with a look, a glance, of his eyes are so moving to me. They bring to mind all those feelings I also had of the man, of the saint. As part of my morning meditations I am also reading another book, about all the doctors of the Church; surely he rivals the greatest of them.

The young people who write in this book about their experiences with the pope most often cite the impact of their participation in various World Youth Day events. Some could not forget his words; for some, a brief touch struck them like electricity; and for some his eyes looked into their souls, and for the first time they could see their souls too. So many lives were forever changed merely by his glance. So many heard his words, and thought he was speaking only to them: “Trust God because He trusts you.”

And so many cried in happiness.

This is another book which will be on my Christmas give-away list. I’ll make sure to give copies to my younger acquaintances. I wonder if they will feel its impact also.

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