Read an Excerpt
The magnitude of John Paul II’s accomplishments, and the sheer volume of his writings, can obscure a crucial fact about him. Within this great man—world statesman, theologian, philosopher, church leader—beats the heart of a pastor. John Paul II knows something about how men and women can find God. He understands much about how the power of God can be released in our lives. His supreme desire is that we come to embrace a faith that transforms the way we live, the way we relate to other people, the way we work.
This little book compiles John Paul II’s essential pastoral wisdom. These are his most succinct and heartfelt thoughts about how we can draw closer to God and live as faithful, forceful Christians in a world that presents many challenges. I have made these selections from the pope’s extensive writings and arranged them according to broad themes. Read these words from one of the church’s greatest pastors. Ponder them. Let them penetrate your heart. They will draw you closer to God, because God is in them.
A Hidden Treasure, an Open Book
Lord, reveal to all of us the interior world of the soul, the hidden treasure within us, the luminous castle of God. Make the exterior world preserve the imprint of the Creator,
and may it be an open book that speaks to us of God.
Humanity’s destiny is written in the heart and mind of God, who directs the course of history. The Father puts in our hands the task of beginning to build here on earth the Kingdom of heaven that the Son came to announce and which will find its fulfillment at the end of time.
Immersed in This World
We live in history, side by side with our peers, sharing their worries and hopes. We cannot escape into another dimension, ignoring the tragedies of our era, closing our eyes and our hearts to the anguish that pervades life. On the contrary, we are immersed in this world every day, ready to hasten to wherever there is a brother or sister in need of help, a tear to be dried, a request for help to be answered.
The world and the events of history cannot be understood without professing faith in the God who is at work in them. Faith sharpens the inner eye, opening the mind to discover the workings of providence in the flux of events.
Faith and Reason
Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth. God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—to know Himself—so that by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves.
Humanity’s future depends on people who rely on the truth and whose lives are enlightened by lofty moral principles that enable their hearts to love to the point of sacrifice.
Every Life Is a Gift
Stand up for the life of the aged and the handicapped; stand up against attempts to promote assisted suicide and euthanasia. Stand up for marriage and family life. Stand up for purity. Resist the pressures and temptations of a world that too often tries to ignore a most fundamental truth: that every life is a gift from God our Creator and that we must give an account to God of how we use it, either for good or evil.
To Enter Many Hearts
Like Mary, we must allow the Holy Spirit to help us become intimate friends of Christ. Like Mary, we must put aside any fear in order to take Christ into the world in whatever we do—in marriage, as single people in the world, as students, as workers, as professional people. Through us, Christ wants to go to many places in the world and to enter many hearts.
The Gospel must not be kept hidden because of fear or indifference. It was never meant to be hidden away in private. It has to be put on a stand so that people may see its light and give praise to our Heavenly Father.
Prophets of Life
I ask all the people of the world, who naturally and instinctively make love of life the horizon of their dreams and the rainbow of their hopes, to become prophets of life. Be such by your words and deeds, rebelling against the civilization of selfishness that often considers the human person a means rather than an end,
sacrificing its dignity and feelings in the name of mere profit. Do so by concretely helping those who need us and who, without our help, would perhaps be tempted to resign themselves to despair.