John Paul the Great: Remembering a Spiritual Father, a review

John Paul the GreatBook:  John Paul the Great: Remembering a Spiritual Father

Author:  Peggy Noonan

Published:  31 October 2006

Publisher:  Penguin Books

Date Read:  21 February 2015

Format: Softcover

Source:  Personal. physical copy

First Line:  “It was early morning in the Vatican, July 2, 2003, a brilliant morning in the middle of the worst Roman heat wave in a century.”

Genre/My Rating:   Memoir/4.5

GoodReads Rating:  3.97

Other Books by Author: What I Saw at the Revolution: A Political Life in the Reagan Era (1990); Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness (1994); Simply Speaking: How to Communicate Your Ideas with Style, Substance, and Clarity (1998); On Speaking Well (1999); Character Above All (1999); The Case Against Hillary Clinton (2000); When Character was King: A Story of Ronald Reagan (2001); A Heart, a Cross, and a Flag (2003); Patriotic Grace: What It Is and Why We Need It Now (2008).

Review:  Ordering this book from Amazon, I was expecting a book that was a reflection upon the life of Pope Saint John Paul II from his earliest childhood in Poland to his death and elevation to sainthood.  I was anticipating learning about his formative years, living through the German occupation, living under communism, his call to the priesthood, his training as a priest, his elevation from priest to bishop, cardinal, and pope, and other pertinent aspects of his life.  I wanted to know the intimate details of his life that shaped him into the great spiritual father that he was.  Not only did I get this, but I got so much more.

Yes, this is a glimpse into the life of Pope Saint Joannes Paulus II, but it is also a strong reflection of the life of faith led by its author, Peggy Noonan.  It is quite evident within the narrative that Peggy Noonan adored John Paul, but this adoration does not bias her writing.  She not only relates the positive things that made John Paul into the spiritual father that he was, but she also writes about those things that adversely affected his papacy.  Noonan wrote, “What I write here only touches on the most obvious achievements of his papacy. But there were mistakes too, for John Paul was human and his reign was long.”  Some of these mistakes included the “banalization of the liturgy,” his inability to become a “sophisticated bureaucrat,”  and the “sex scandals that swept the Catholic Church in America during his reign are, in my view, inescapably part of his legacy, the unhappiest portion.”

Within the 235 pages of this beautiful Penguin book. there are innumerable nuggets of wisdom which kept meMarginalia busy highlighting sections and making margin notes.  Within the pages of this book, I not only learned about Pope Saint John Paul II, but I also learned about real life faith and how that faith plays out within our world.  I really appreciated the glimpse into the faith life of the author.  This book so powerfully affected me that I plan to read it monthly.

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