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The world loved Pope John XXIII—who could resist his cheerful, affectionate nature?—and he admitted that he was incorrigibly optimistic: "I never met a pessimist who accomplished any good," he wrote in his diary. But Pope John was at heart nothing more than a man in love with God. He maintained his good humor in ...
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The world loved Pope John XXIII—who could resist his cheerful, affectionate nature?—and he admitted that he was incorrigibly optimistic: "I never met a pessimist who accomplished any good," he wrote in his diary. But Pope John was at heart nothing more than a man in love with God. He maintained his good humor in spite of decades of difficult assignments and considerable ill treatment, never complaining but instead choosing to "seize the good and multiply it."
If you're looking for a big-hearted friend within the communion of saints, Blessed John XXIII is your man. This lively portrait will sweep you into the warmth of his spirit while anchoring you in his solid, practical spirituality. "Never mind thunderbolts from heaven!" he once said. "Charity, charity and simple, direct, loving truth!"
Posted February 2, 2009
Author Patricia Treece describes her biography of Pope John XXIII as the story of "a steady progression in holiness across a long lifetime," That lifetime includes convening the Second Vatican Council, and "calling the world back from the brink of disaster" during the 1961 Cuban missile crisis. Treece portrays Angelo Roncalli, born in 1881 and elected pope in 1958, as "a delightful human being" whose style was a model for interreligious and interdenominational dialogue. Those themes are followed throughout the work, which reveals, step by step, Roncalli's career path from seminary to papacy. The man was a workhorse. In his first major assignment as a priest he became secretary to the Bishop of Bergamo. In that position, Roncalli collaborated with his bishop, handled scheduling, preached, traveled, wrote articles, and taught seminary courses. <BR/><BR/>Later he served as a chaplain for wounded soldiers in World War I, spiritual director of a seminary, and Italian president for the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. After being named an archbishop in 1925 Roncalli embarked on what Treece calls the "Bulgarian exile." During his 10 years in that heavily Orthodox country, Treece writes, Roncalli learned to be "like those Old Testament heroes who walked, praising God, in the furnace." That experience and assignments in Greece, Turkey, and post-war France helped the future pope hone his diplomatic skills and gain trust and respect from those with whom he worked. The ecumenical aspects of those years seem to have laid the groundwork for the Second Vatican Council, which Roncalli called shortly after he was elected pope in. <BR/><BR/>All 16 chapters of Meet John XXIII interweave history with rich personal vignettes highlighting Roncalli's love of God, charm, and humility. In her chapter on the council, Treece reminds us of John XXIII's longtime interest in bringing the Church to people "in a changing human society" and promoting unity among Christians. The inner workings of the council and its results are not treated here. Rather, Treece maintains her focus on the pope's role in assembling the participants and observers, setting the agenda, and stepping back to allow the Holy Spirit to guide the proceedings. <BR/><BR/>Meet John XXIII is an outstanding portrait that fulfills Treece's opening prediction: "To know him is to love him."Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.