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The Poetry of Pope John Paul II Roman Triptych Meditations [Hardcover]

By Joannes Paulus II (Author)
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Item Specifications...

Pages   40
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.5" Width: 6.8" Height: 0.5"
Weight:   0.65 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Sep 30, 2003
Publisher   USCCB Publishing
ISBN  1574555561  
EAN  9781574555561  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
One of the highlights of this trio of poems is Pope John Paul II's reflection on his own successor and the upcoming conclave in Rome in the second poem. In the first and last poems, he focuses on God as the origin and end point of all creation.

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More About Joannes Paulus II

John Paul II John Paul II was elected to the papacy on October 16, 1978. He has written 13 encyclicals, 13 apostolic exhortations, 11 apostolic constitutions, 41 apostolic letters, and two books, Crossing the Threshold of Hope and Gift and Mystery: On the 50th Anniversary of My Priestly Ordination.

Paul II is the first non-Italian pope since 1523 and the first polish pope.

John Paul II was born in 1920 and died in 2005.

John Paul II has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Classic Wisdom Collection
  2. Lifeguide
  3. United States Catholic Conference Publication

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1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > General   [19247  similar products]
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
The deep inner perspectives of John Paul II  Apr 14, 2008
This is a booklet for those interested in the deep perspectives of The Religious Man of our time, Pope John Paul II. He loved the nickname "JP-II" which was given him by the youth of this age, was avid thinker with an uncanny but simple way of expressing himself. In this volume he proves to be a challange as he shows us how deep, warm and self examining he could be. This volume requires thought and induces introspection by the reader. Read a side of "JP-II" you knew was there, but have not readily observed, heard or seen. Learn something about yourself and this beloved Catholic Man of Faith. Look for that warm and devilish smile of his as you study him.
A beautiful book . . .   Feb 6, 2007
. . . showing the deep thoughts of one of the spiritual giants of our time.

Both poetry and spiritual meditation, this book is a gift of love to the world from Pope John Paul II (The Great) as he contemplated the approaching end of his long life. The reader will want to take time with this volume; it is not designed for "speed-reading". Rather, it is to be savored slowly and prayerfully.

A powerful book from a mystical perspective. I can't speak highly enough about it.
Looking Back - You Will Be Grateful For Buying This Book  Mar 30, 2006
Yes, it is a slim volume of poetry. And yes, poetry is not usually at the top-of-the-charts in popularity. But this was no ordinary poet. This was Our Great Holy Father, John Paul II. And while some said he could have done more for the faithful, in my opinion he did everything possible - if you truly believe in God's will. And most respectfully, this was (again, in my opinion only) John Paul II's only way of conveying the dire times in which we live and prophesying as well via the poetry genre - always subject to differing interpretations. One can feel his heart on every single word of each poem. Thank goodness we live in a country that offers us the most precious Freedom of Speech & Press - so that all we need do is "click" and purchase such a treasure for a song.
A Poet-Pope's Enigmatic Finale  Nov 2, 2005
The handsome little volume comes with drawings by Michelangelo for illustrations and an afterward by Cardinal Ratzinger. The work itself takes up about twenty pages, and directly references the coming conclave at the pope-author's death, but does not name names. Nor does it explicitly discuss church parties and issues. The three parts of the poem are first, a meditation while walking on a mountain stream, next reflections in the Sistine Chapel including the musings on conclave, and finally a casting of the Abraham and Isaac story. The language is plain and the verse entirely free; it has little to put off a reader uncomfortable with poetry. The observations and thoughts are also broadly stated and, on the surface, reassuringly mainstream. The book was cast in about as straightforward a form and universal a language as possible. One becomes aware, as it slowly unfurls, that it is consciously aimed on one level at a very broad audience. Thus one slowly begins to confront the seriousness of its intent. And it then becomes clear that this is a fully intentioned closer to the entire poetic career, and arguably to much more.

The earlier Wojtyla as a poet was no modernist in the theological sense but he certainly shared the coded, existential approach one finds in Iron Curtain poets such as Milosz or in Solzhenitsyn's prose poems. There is often in such writers a double disguise -- religious message largely hidden, the language and context of Marxist intellectuals often adopted. The local cultural commissar would have let it all pass. Thus the future pope was able to sharpen a useful underground strategy as a creative writer. That should not be ignored here, however superficially it might seem that this strong pope was able to say just about anything he wanted.

In Triptych's first section, "The Stream," a man is hiking along clear mountain streams, and considers its clear course downhill over stone. In that direction lies an easy trek home. The meditation turns to water itself, as a sort of mystery to be unlocked in itself:

"What do you say to me, mountain stream?
Where do you encounter me?"

The enquiry thus at least opens toward pure metaphysical speculation. One cannot help but recall young Wojtylas's virtual immersion in the modern philosopher Husseryl and the very odd philosophy of phenomenology, which held that things are what use we put them to, how they stand in relation to other things -- not absolutes -- a viewpoint fundamentally different from the Thomism one might have expected. This is the direction of the walker's question, as he quite literally in his wanderings follows the meandering path cut by the stream. The stream is thus asked questions only it can answer. We are quite clearly and quickly, then, in a realm where the entire issue of belief is wide open. But what a yawning gulf this seems! And we have a pope here on this precipice of doubt and unbelief, and at age 83 no less? It may not necessarily shake your faith but, for a moment, it may well make you shake your head. Certainly no pope in history has ever spoken in the first person in these terms, even implicitly or under the mask of art. But the plain surface clarity, like the cold water, is at least for once refreshing. John Paul II was certainly a modern through and through, at least on an artistic level, and obviously could not escape such a root formation in the society from which he came. He candidly reveals how at home he was with that here, near his end. Yet we must also keep in mind the strategy of appearing to be a secular man, learned under Communism's fist, and consider what might be coded underneath a modernist mask.

Our mountaineer quickly realizes that "the rushing stream cannot wonder . . . but man can wonder!" And just as quickly turns uphill -- the more difficult trek to "the source," against the current.. For in this direction only lie the answers to his restless questioning. It is good at least to have decision -- in the vocabulary of phenomenology and Wojtyla's graduate thesis, an act of an "acting person." Whether action must precede faith the audience will leave for another day, but only because we have no choice: this is the last word from this quester, after all, the closer. There will soon be no more such days for him. And he is revealing both that an analytical faith has always been his way and that, to all intents and purposes, at least in this most personal voice, he knew no other.

The next section, "Meditations on the Book of Genesis at the Threshold of the Sistine Chapel," lands us firmly in the Sistine Chapel, guided specifically by the art of Michelangelo's Last Judgment on the ceiling above. The mystery of the Creation toward which the climber in "The Stream" mounted his steps against the current is now made manifest:

". . . the Book awaits its illustration. -- And rightly.
it awaits its Michelangelo."

Great praise for the artist, indeed, but the artist is also the art -- Michelangelo also stands for man, as a created being. And a subtle change in atmosphere has occurred, as the anonymous pilgrim has melded into the strictly personal: "I stand at the entrance of the Sistine Chapel." Yet "this threshold" too has a general meaning, it is metaphor for the eternal Word, also named as a threshold. As for the content of this lesson, "Michelangelo penned it." And it is all about:

"the Judgment, the Last Judgment.
This is the road that all of us walk --
each one of us."

Thus begins a long meditation on the end and the beginning, both "invisible" but knowable, it is asserted, by careful meditation on the ceiling as it explicates the story of the garden alongside the story of the Judgment. Michelangelo, as man, thus takes us back to the first man, who is also, before his fall, an unimaginable paradigm of the heavenly perfection promised to the just. The pope-poet insists we grasp this difficult mystery of perfection "pre-sacrament," as also explicated in words he passed under every day for eight years, "as I entered the gate of the gymnasium in Wadowice":

"Heaven is pleased with what is pure; come with pure robes
and with unsullied hands drink from the source"

This, then, is the dead center of the poem, the source of the mountaineer's stream. And the pope also insists that this perfection which God saw, and upon which He proclaimed "it was good" -- in His image and likeness as embodied in "the richness of a riot of colors" in Michelangelo's vision -- remains the Truth, the Word, against the argument of history which denies it -- "Even our own twentieth century!" For "no century can obscure this truth."

Here then, too, seems to lie a pointed reply to the criticism of a whole party in the present day Church, and perhaps an explanation for aspects of his papal program that it found scandalous -- particularly in the realm of ecumenism. Simply, John Paul II had made a prudential judgment as pope: that a reply to the monstrous argument of materialist "history" was a more paramount task for himself as pontiff, at this particular human "threshold," than tipping the balance in favor of this party or that party in Roman Catholic affairs. He tacitly acknowledges any argument against his judgment in this respect; say what you will, on whatever side, he knew somebody had already said it. But if I have been wrong, he almost seems to plead for himself, it was not for want of prayer and meditation on my responsibility -- much of which prayer occurred before the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel, the same place that the conclave would take place. This meditation quickly dovetails back to 1978 where his papacy began and ahead, to its end:

" . . . in August, and again in October
in the memorable year of the two Conclaves
and so it will be once more, when the time comes,
after my death."

The pope's only expressed hope, regarding this coming event, was that those cardinals there assembled would meditate on these same frescoes of Judgment, and "see themselves in the midst of the Beginning and the End." It was an urgent desire:

"Michelangelo's vision must speak to them . . . .
During the conclave Michelangelo must teach them --
Do not forget . . .
All is laid bare and revealed before His eyes."

Of one fact concerning his successor the poet-pope was confident: "He will point him out."

This drama faced, the third section begins, "A Hill in the Land of Moriah," the story of Abraham and Isaac cast in classic exegesis as a prefigurement of the sacrifice of Cavalry. A climb up a mountain for a second time in the poem, a formal repetition of motif, prefiguring the third mountain which does not explicitly appear in the text. The pope's questioning mode renews, and mystery remains but is unfolded formally, slowly. And again it is act -- in this case obedience to the will of God -- that is explicated as the key, indeed:

"For God revealed to Abraham
what it means for a father to sacrifice his own son --
a sacrificial death."

The dialogue of son with father, and the invisible force that stays the dagger are seen as prefigurement of another set of three, the Trinity. This is another parallel to the original setting, "The Stream": the harder way, against the current. To give ourselves in love, true, but in this case a very specific act of love -- total sacrifice, of everything loved, of everything knowable by solely human knowledge. Finally, God's directive to Abraham in the poem's last lines:

"Remember this place once you go forth from here,
this place will await its day . . . ."

In other words, Cavalry. The pope's career as a poet ends with an ellipsis, but the direction to the third mountain, amazingly unnamed throughout the poem, is obvious. Indeed, one is more astonished to realize that the name of Jesus Christ has also been entirely absent throughout, although the poem is all about
His Church and following His cross.

One is thus left with the startling and somewhat unsettling impression of a dialogue that began on the edge of modern relativistic philosophy, and ended with something very unusual in major Catholic art -- the cross not as joy but as warning. So here, the re-examination of this so plain, apparently non-controversial, and even simple stretch of free verse must begin. There is no way this can now even be undertaken, for in the manner of the poet-pope, the enquiry will quickly be seen to be shot through with perhaps unanswerable questions. Was Triptych after all subversive? To whom was this warning directed? Why a warning at all? What great dear thing needed be sacrificed? Why was obscure poetry enlisted for such a major purpose?

Any answers will be seen to open up to major issues concerning this whole long pontificate. That sort of "judgment" awaits the sort of history that is not instant, that will take terribly long if it is ever even possible. But one thing is certain: this pope knew all the criticism from all sides, and expected to be shortly facing an awesome judge. Determinedly, he did not go into that place signing off on a religion of despair. As for those who told him he was dead wrong, a reasonable guess is that many of them -- to his view -- would soon be standing under those frescoes in conclave. They like Abraham, his faith told him, would be provided with a voice of direction. A large part of this poem's burden was to pray, publicly, that they follow it.

A Wonderful Book  Apr 21, 2005
If you want to know why so many gathered and cheered at his funeral, just read this book.

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