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The Wisdom of John Paul II: The Pope on Life's Most Vital Questions (Vintage Spiritual Classics) [Paperback]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   150
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.03" Width: 5.21" Height: 0.56"
Weight:   0.45 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Nov 13, 2001
Publisher   Vintage
ISBN  0375727329  
EAN  9780375727320  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
The essential thoughts of Pope John Paul II on matters of belief and conscience have been culled from his encyclicals, speeches, homilies, and statements to fellow bishops and collected in one volume. Throughout his more than two decades as the leader of the world's Catholics, John Paul II has spoken both officially and informally on all aspects of life in the modern world. Whether defining the Church's teachings or passionately espousing the basic human rights of all people, whether speaking from his throne in the Vatican or from a platform set up on a soccer field, the Pope has always eloquently and clearly stated his thinking, vision, and hopes for the Church and the world. For this new edition, the compilers have added significant new material, including the pontiff's thoughts as we enter the third millennium of Christianity.

Publishers Description
The essential thoughts of Pope John Paul II on matters of belief and conscience have been culled from his encyclicals, speeches, homilies, and statements to fellow bishops and collected in one volume.

Throughout his more than two decades as the leader of the world's Catholics, John Paul II has spoken both officially and informally on all aspects of life in the modern world.

Whether defining the Church's teachings or passionately espousing the basic human rights of all people, whether speaking from his throne in the Vatican or from a platform set up on a soccer field, the Pope has always eloquently and clearly stated his thinking, vision, and hopes for the Church and the world.

For this new edition, the compilers have added significant new material, including the pontiff's thoughts as we enter the third millennium of Christianity.
Nick Bakalar lives in New York City. Richard Balkin lives in Atlanta, Georgia
contemporary spirituality

Pope John Paul calls on Christians to renew their spiritual lives. The Pope insists that just as the body needs earthly food for growth, the soul needs to drink from the living waters of the Gospel. Only through tending to both physical and spiritual needs can a person lead a fully integrated life.

John Paul recognizes the value of the awakening of the religious sense in contemporary spiritual movements. These movements, for example, urge a deeper respect for the earth and transcend merely rational forms of religion. They awaken the imagination and religious sensibilities that have been buried under modern materialism and secularization. But the Pope also clearly rejects modern forms of spirituality that conflict with the Gospel message and confuse rather than clarify the human being's relationship to God.

John Paul emphasizes in particular the centrality of the sacraments of the Eucharist and penance. Christians witness God's love for humankind in the eucharistic meal and receive God's mercy in the sacrament of penance. Through participation in the sacraments, Christians today deepen their spiritual journeys.

In the race for technological progress, human beings have become estranged from themselves. As a result, they turn to new spiritual movements that attempt to bridge this chasm. Although John Paul believes that the Church can learn from contemporary movements in spirituality, he holds firmly to the past two thousand years of Christian tradition. Christians in the modern world face the challenge of meeting new, complex needs while at the same time holding fast to their Biblical heritage.

Contemporary Spirituality

When individuals and communities do not see a rigorous respect for the moral, cultural and spiritual requirements, based on the dignity of the person and on the proper identity of each community, beginning with the family and religious societies, then all the rest-availability of goods, abundance of technical resources applied to daily life, a certain level of material well-being-will prove unsatisfying and in the end contemptible.

encyclical: on social concerns (Sollicitudo Rei Socialis), 1987

Development which is merely economic is incapable of setting man free; on the contrary, it will end by enslaving him further. Development that does not include the cultural, transcendent and religious dimensions of man and society, to the extent that it does not recognize the existence of such dimensions and does not endeavor to direct its goals and priorities toward the same, is even less conducive to authentic liberation. Human beings are totally free only when they are completely themselves, in the fullness of their rights and duties. The same can be said about society as a whole.

encyclical: on social concerns (Sollicitudo Rei Socialis), 1987

The increasing religious indifference leads to the loss of the sense of God and of His holiness, which, in turn, is translated into a loss of a sense of the sacred, of mystery and of the capacity for wonder. These are human dispositions which predispose a person to dialogue and to an encounter with God. Such indifference almost inevitably leads to a false moral autonomy and a secularistic lifestyle which excludes God. The loss of the sense of God is followed by a loss of the sense of sin, which has its roots in the moral conscience of the individual. This is a great obstacle to conversion.

Lineamenta for the assembly of the synod of bishops for america, September 18, 1996

In a world pervaded by audiovisual messages of every kind, it is necessary to recover areas of silence which allow God to make His voice heard, and the soul to understand and welcome it. This is what we are taught by the shining example of countless saints and blesseds who have preceded us, glorifying God with the prayerful recollection of their life, and of martyrs, who for love chose "the silence" of the total gift of their life as a response to God's love perceived in the Word and in the Eucharist.

address to the congregation for divine worship,

May 3, 1996

Many people today are puzzled and ask: What is the point of the consecrated life? Why embrace this kind of life when there are so many unmet needs in the areas of charity and of evangelization itself to which one can respond even without assuming the particular commitments of the consecrated life? Is the consecrated life not a kind of "waste" of human energies which might be used more efficiently for a greater good, for the benefit of humanity and the church? . . . What in people's eyes can seem a waste is, for the individuals captivated in the depths of their heart by the beauty and goodness of the Lord, an obvious response of love, a joyful expression of gratitude for having been admitted in a unique way to the knowledge of the Son and to a sharing in His divine mission in the world.

exhortation on the consecrated life, March 25, 1996

Lent is thus a providential opportunity for fostering the spiritual detachment from riches necessary if we are to open ourselves to God. As Christians, we must direct our entire lives to Him, for we know that in this world we have no fixed abode: "our commonwealth is in heaven" (Phil 3:20). At the end of Lent, the celebration of the Paschal Mystery shows how the Lenten journey of purification culminates in the free and loving gift of self to the Father. It is by taking this path that Christ's disciples learn how to rise above themselves and their selfish interests in order to encounter in love their brothers and sisters.

message for lent 1996

It is helpful to recall that a modern state cannot make atheism or religion one of its political ordinances. The state, while distancing itself from all extremes of fanaticism or secularism, should encourage a harmonious social climate and a suitable legislation which enables every person and every religious confession to live their faith freely, to express that faith in the context of public life and to count on adequate resources and opportunities to bring its spiritual, moral and civic benefits to bear on the life of the nation.

the doctrine of freedom and solidarity

Homily at the Mass in Havana's Revolution Plaza, January 25, 1998

American Catholics, in common with other Christians and all believers, have a responsibility to ensure that the mystery of God and the truth about humanity that is revealed in the mystery of God are not banished from public life.

moral truth, conscience and american democracy

Ad Limina Address to U.S. Bishops, June 27, 1998

The disciple of Christ is constantly challenged by a spreading "practical atheism"-an indifference to God's loving plan which obscures the religious and moral sense of the human heart. Many either think and act as if God did not exist, or tend to "privatize" religious belief and practice, so that there exists a bias toward indifferentism and the elimination of any real reference to binding truths and moral values. When the basic principles which inspire and direct human behavior are fragmentary and even at times contradictory, society increasingly struggles to maintain harmony and a sense of its own destiny. In a desire to find some common ground on which to build its programs and policies, it tends to restrict the contribution of those whose moral conscience is formed by their religious beliefs.

Ad Limina address to bishops from new jersey

and pennsylvania, November 11, 1993

The Church feels the duty to proclaim the liberation of millions of human beings, the duty to help this liberation become firmly established (cf. EN, 30); but she also feels the corresponding duty to proclaim liberation in its integral and profound meanings, as Jesus proclaimed and realized it (cf. EN, 9). Liberation made up of reconciliation and forgiveness. Liberation springing from the reality of being children of God, whom we are able to call Abba, Father (Rom 8:15), a reality which makes us recognize in every man a brother of ours, capable of being transformed in his heart through God's mercy. Liberation that, with the energy of love, urges us toward fellowship, the summit and fullness of which we find in the Lord. Liberation as the overcoming of the various forms of slavery and man-made idols, and as the growth of the new man. Liberation that in the framework of the Church's proper mission is not reduced to the simple and narrow economic, political, social or cultural dimension, and is not sacrificed to the demands of any strategy, practice or short-term solution (cf. EN, 33).

address to latin american bishops at puebla,

February 8, 1979

It is not an exaggeration to say that man's relationship to God and the demand for a religious "experience" are the crux of a profound crisis affecting the human spirit. While the secularization of many aspects of life continues, there is a new quest for "spirituality" as evidenced in the appearance of many religious and healing movements which look to respond to the crisis of values in Western society. This stirring of the homo religiosus produces some positive and constructive results, such as the search for new meaning in life, a new ecological sensitivity and the desire to go beyond a cold, rationalistic religiosity. On the other hand, this religious reawakening includes some very ambiguous elements which are incompatible with the Christian faith.

beyond new age ideas: spiritual renewal

Ad Limina Address to U.S. Bishops, May 28, 1993

Modern rationalism does not tolerate mystery. It does not accept the mystery of man as male and female nor is it willing to admit that the full truth about man has been revealed in Jesus Christ. In particular, it does not accept the great mystery proclaimed in the Letter to the Ephesians, but radically opposes it. It may well acknowledge, in the context of a vague deism, the possibility and even the need for a supreme or divine being, but it firmly rejects the idea of a God who became man in order to save man. For rationalism it is unthinkable that God should be the redeemer, much less that He should be the bridegroom, the primordial and unique source of the human love between spouses. Rationalism provides a radically different way of looking at creation and the meaning of human existence. But once man begins to lose sight of a God who loves him, a God who calls man through Christ to live in Him and with Him, and once the family no longer has the possibility of sharing in the great mystery, what is left except the mere temporal dimension of life? Earthly life becomes nothing more than the scenario of a battle for existence, of a desperate search for gain, and financial gain before all else.

letter to families for the international year of the family, February 22, 1994

To many people, mercy and conversion may seem like poor tools for solving social problems. Some are tempted to accept ideologies that use force to carry out their programs and impose their vision. Such means sometimes produce what appear to be successes. But these successes are not real. Force and manipulation have nothing to do with true human development and the defense of human dignity. Catholic social teaching is totally different, not only as regards goals, but also as regards the means to be used. For the Christian, putting right human ills must necessarily take into account the reality of creation and redemption. It means treating every human being as a unique child of God, a brother or sister of Jesus Christ. The path of human solidarity is the path of service; and true service means selfless love, open to the needs of all, without distinction of persons, with the explicit purpose of reinforcing each person's sense of God-given dignity.

address to catholic charities, california,

September 13, 1987

Every age poses new challenges and new temptations for the People of God on their pilgrimage, and our own is no exception. We face a growing secularism that tries to exclude God and religious truth from human affairs. We face an insidious relativism that undermines the absolute truth of Christ and the truths of faith, and tempts believers to think of them as merely one set of beliefs or opinions among others. We face a materialistic consumerism that offers superficially attractive but empty promises conferring material comfort at the price of inner emptiness. We face an alluring hedonism that offers a whole series of pleasures that will never satisfy the human heart. All these attitudes can influence our sense of good and evil at the very moment when social and scientific progress requires strong ethical guidance. Once alienated from Christian faith and practice by these and other deceptions, people often commit themselves to passing fads, or to bizarre beliefs that are either shallow or fanatical.

address to laity, st. mary's cathedral, san francisco, September 18, 1987

A few years ago, there was much talk of the secularized world, the post-Christian era. Fashion changes, but a profound reality remains. Christians today must be formed to live in a world which largely ignores God or which, in religious matters, in place of an exacting and fraternal dialogue, stimulating for all, too often founders in a debasing indifferentism, if it does not remain in a scornful attitude of "suspicion" in the name of the progress it has made in the field of scientific "explanations." To "hold on" in this world, to offer to all a "dialogue of salvation" in which each person feels respected in his or her most basic dignity, the dignity of one who is seeking God, we need a catechesis which trains the young people and adults of our communities to remain clear and consistent in their faith, to affirm serenely their Christian and Catholic identity, to "see Him who is invisible" and to adhere so firmly to the absoluteness of God that they can be witnesses to Him in a materialistic civilization that denies Him.

catechesis in our time, October 1979

human rights

In his world travels, Pope John Paul has taken a very direct approach to governments that do not live up to basic standards of human rights. He visited Buenos Aires, where he referred directly to the Argentine government's "dirty war" and pointedly held a meeting with one of the few bishops in the country who had spoken out against the government. In Africa, in 1985, he made a direct appeal to President Mobutu of Zaire and condemned South Africa's apartheid. In South Korea, he spoke both publicly and privately with the president about the need for greater democracy and greater respect for personal liberty. No government is spared: The Holy Father has condemned equally governments of the left and the right for what he perceives as violations of human rights.

There is little question that the Pope's urgings have had practical effect. Mikhail Gorbachev gave the Holy Father much credit for the liberalization of Eastern Europe, and Lech Walesa acknowledged the Pope's aid as essential in preserving the gains of Solidarity in Poland.

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More About Pope John Paul II, Nick Bakalar, Richard Balkin, John White & Richard Balkin

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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Reviews - What do our customers think?
One of best compilations of Catholic Wisdom from the Pontiff  Oct 15, 2005
I purchased the hard cover version of this book when it first came out. I also later purchased the audio cassettes. I have listened to them at least 3 times. This is the Gospel applied for our age. The Pope's quotes are arranged by topic and are very well researched and presented.

Marriage, Family, Children, War, Poverty, are some of the topics covered. This is a spectacular and somewhat lengthy collection of the former Pope's great quotes.

Highly recommended on audio and also in written forms.
Words of Wisdom  Mar 5, 2004
Inspirational comments (taken from his speeches and writings) from Pope John Paul II on subjects including suffering, women, work, peace, faith, prayer, and much more. Whatever the subject, John Paul's words convey a deep respect and love for all people and an intense desire for peace. The excerpts range from a few sentences to a couple paragraphs, but almost every one contains at least one idea worth serious reflection. Considering how much John Paul has experienced of the world and his super-wide ranging travels, his views are definitely not "ivory tower", and that really comes across in his common sense and practical attitude. Any reader, regardless of religious background, could learn something from this book.
Experience The Wisdom  Aug 26, 2003
"The Wisdom of John Paul II" is a collection of sayings of His Holiness. Topically organized into seventeen sections, it distills true gems from his voluminous writings and public addresses.

From these distilled gems the reader can glean some of the themes of John Paul's teachings. One such theme is mystery. Whereas modern man always seeks to know and understand, John Paul finds mystery in man, mystery in God, mystery in man's relationship to God.

Another theme of John Paul II is that Christ is at the center of all human existence. Whatever the issue, John Paul finds the answer in Christ. Relations between people must be based on man's inherent, God-given dignity. Man's ultimate destiny is found in uniting himself to Christ.

Ultimately, the value of this book comes, not from the answers it provides, but the questions it gently leads us to ask. Who am I? Why am I here? Where did I come from? Where am I going? When a person starts asking these questions, he begins to think differently, to act differently, to be different. Pick up and read, think, and pray.

This is a book that every catholic should read !.  Sep 26, 2000
The Wisdom of John Paul II describes the Pope's innermost thoughts on subjects such as abortion, education, war, religion, and love. The book is well-written and interesting as well because it's made of quotes from speeches made by the Holy Father. The Pope's views on certain issues have often been controversial, but certainly there's a lot of wisdom in his words.
An insightful and inspiring gem  Jul 25, 2000
Nick Bakalar and Richard Balkin have scoured numerous encyclicals, speeches, and letters to assemble this wonderful treasury of Pope John Paul II's thoughts on many questions facing today's society. The result is a wealth of wisdom and insight from the most seen man in the world. This isn't a book of answers to life's vital questions; rather, it offers the Pope's and the Church's view on such issues and asks us to question our attitudes and feelings. The topics are far-ranging, both contemporary and timeless. Matters of love, family, death, women, work, and youth are addressed as well as subjects such as human rights and progress and the modern world. Bakalar and Balkin's greatest strength in composing this book is the wide spectrum they've selected from. These issues are universal, and you will find something that speaks to you. You'll probably discover much more.

"The Wisdom of John Paul II" is not only a great addition to your inspirational or religious library; it's also a great addition to any library. I suggest giving this book as a gift, especially if you're looking for something meaningful that can be read over and over (instead of being used as a dust-collector). Non-Catholics and even non-religious will find the Pope's words inspiring, and his message of universal love can be understood and appreciated by all. He does not viciously attack groups in conflict with Church teachings but graciously approaches controversy as does a leader of the faith. Wherever he acts as an apologetic, he does so with the patience and firmness that has guided the Church through more than two decades.

This book, in part, acts as an intimate autobiography as it his diary of his times and how he has confronted the Church and society he has been entrusted. What makes this papal journal stand out from the rest though is that it is more than a portrait of the Pope or a collection of his quotes. His words represent one man's thoughts, but it also gives us a strong picture of his vision for the Catholic Church of the new millennium. Every issue is one that immediately concerns contemporary society, and that makes this book such an enjoyable and necessary read.


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