Book Review – Pope Francis “Encountering Truth”

Book Cover Pope Francis

I am curious to find out the daily routine of high profiled people that I admire.  Do they mediate, exercise or spend hours on the computer before they begin their full agenda of events and activities?  Especially, what are the routines that keep them genuine, authentic, and grounded?   Antonio Spadaro’s book, “Pope Francis: Encountering Truth,” provides an insight into Pope Francis’s morning routine of celebrating Mass in St. Martha’s Chapel.

Celebrating Mass in St. Martha is a 7:00am routine for past Pontiffs, but Pope Francis has approached his ministry with a humility that sets him apart from his fellow brother Pontiffs.  The preface that is written by Federico Lombardi, the Director General of Vatican Radio, states that Pope Francis’s homilies (sermons) come from “helping souls” to “seek and find the will of God” every day (page xiii).

The congregation St. Martha’s can change every day. The mix can range from nuns, journalists, guests of the Vatican, or ground keepers; anyone who is able to attend Mass that morning.   The services are also broadcast on Vatican Radio.  They are recorded and translated in over thirty different languages and uploaded on to the Vatican webpage by 11:00am.  Lombardi says, “although it may be an extra job for us, it is a welcomed one, an added richness to the service that we provide for our listeners.” (page xv)

I usually skip the introductions of book, but Spadaro’s informative introduction sets the tone by providing insights about Cardinal Bergoglio (Pope Francis’s former name) and his early life as a Jesuit priest.  He understood early on that to be a preacher is to be “a sower, maternal figure, and communicator” (page xvi).  He took that understanding and prepared homilies that cultivate a relationship between God and his people.

The main part of the book consists of 186 homilies that covers a year beginning March 23, 2013.  The topics range from the role of the Holy Spirit to everyday issues like forgiveness and gossip.  I love the homilies that dealt with gossip.  I have the sense that the Pope has been the target of a few gossip campaigns.

Homily #93 brings together the other five homilies on gossip.  Pope Francis shares that we cannot praise God with the same tongue that kills “the image of God in our brother” because there is “no innocent gossip.” (page 178)   If we want our world to be more compassionate, it starts with little things that we say and do.  It is in this awareness that we encounter the truth about ourselves and the world around us.

Why read the book?  Regardless of religious faith, Pope Francis seems to have embraced the hearts and respect of many people, including atheists.  This book is an easy read without need for theological analysis.  It is wisdom that is applicable no matter who you are.  Even if you don’t have to provide a daily or weekly homily to a congregation, it makes you appreciate the time and effort that it takes to prepare one.

A good homily is a gem to hold on to, like this book.

I received this book from “Blogging for Books” for this review.

Read Well My Friends!



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