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  Book Reviews
Happiness in This Life  
by Pope Francis

Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight. PhD


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Pope Francis’ book focuses on “A Passionate Meditation on Earthly Existence”.  He divides his meditation into four major sections: “Your Search for a Meaningful Life, You and Others: Happiness in Your Relationships, A Hundredfold Reward, Plus Suffering (and lastly), Those Who Pray Live Serenely.” The Pope as a major influence in our society starts his meditation with the recitation of the Beatitudes. The Pope states that the Beatitudes are the essence of Jesus, His way of life and they are the way to true happiness on our journey.

 He then asks the question is hope possible with this frantic pace that we live? He states what many have said “There is no time for anything or for anyone. We have no time to spend with our families and communities, no time for friendship, for consensus or for reflection.” We need to ask a different question: “How can we enact the joy of the Gospel in our daily lives, in our cities?  Is Christian hope possible here and now?” In the next section, there are homilies about how we should be as a human person with Christ as the center. Some of the homilies include topics such as: never be afraid to take the risk of being happy; Jesus’s choice is our freedom  In the next section, there are homilies about how we should be as a human person with Christ as the center; never be afraid  to take the risk of being happy; Jesus’s choice is our freedom; go forth and look for light; the joy of God is the presence of Jesus among us.

In Part two of the book, the Holy Father directs us to think and pray about our accompaniment in our journey on this earth.  Our family and friends provide that accompaniment.  We need to make this accompaniment intentional and meaningful by noticing our own surprise and joy as well as the surprise and joy of others through prayer and conversation.  We need to be with others during suffering and hard times.  During our time of accompaniment we allow and encourage others to participate as the Body of Christ in all we say and do. We allow others to see our deep seated honor of being Christ with others as we continue on our journey  The Pope calls us to be our ‘best selves’ so we can offer our best to others on the journey.  The Pope helps us to think/pray about the fact that in our society many chose to live alone as a meaningful way of experiencing God in their lives. This takes a commitment to Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit.  The covenant that we make with Christ in marriage and in Holy Orders warrants our understanding of accompanying all those involved in that covenant. In our very complicated network of relationships this takes help from our entire community so that those involved can live the life they promise.

In Part three, the Pope assists us in understanding the aspect of Christian suffering. He asks us to think about when we weep.  Most of us live a comfortable life without tears The Pope tells us from the Bible stories of how Jesus wept for His friend, Lazarus, he wept for the widow that lost her son, he wept for the flock that didn’t have a shepherd.  We need to weep in our hearts for those things that are hard on the flock and the love of Christ in our hearts. The Pope calls us to pray