Wednesday 12 December 2018

Saint Pope Paul VI - Matthew Bunson - Celebrating the 262nd Pope of the Roman Catholic Church

Saint Pope Paul VI:
Celebrating the 262nd Pope of the Roman Catholic Church
Matthew Bunson
Sophia Institute Press
ISBN 9781682780701


Over the last few years I have read several books both by and about Pope Paul VI. With his canonization in 2018, and the 50th anniversary of the publication of Humanae Vitae there has been a lot of interest in in the man and his works. And this book is an excellent addition to that area of scholarship, and devotion. That book once started is hard to put down. And it reads as part biography, part academic treatise, and part exhortation from the wisdom of Paul VI’s writings.

This is the second book written by Matthew Bunson that I have read, and both are excellent reads. Bunson writes in such an open and honest way. Bunson presents Paul VI, as a man, a man with faults, but a man with a deep devotion and passion for God. The first words of Paul VI that we encounter are before the book begins:

“I must bear witness to his name: Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matt. 16:16). He reveals the invisible God, he is the firstborn of all creation, the foundation of everything created. He is the Teacher of mankind, and its Redeemer. He was born, he died, and he rose again for us. He is the center of history and of the world; he is the one who knows us and who loves us; he is the companion and the friend of our life. He is the man of sorrows and of hope. It is he who will come and who one day will be our judge and — we hope — the everlasting fullness of our existence, our happiness.”

Taken from a Homily for Mass at Quezon Circle, the Philippines November 29, 1970. Paul VI had an unenviable task. When he was elected pope, the church was in the middle of Vatican Council II. There was speculation oat the time that he would cancel it, or even radically change its direction. Instead he saw it through in the spirit of Saint Pope John XXIII and spend the rest of his pontificate defending both the counsel and his own writings. He was the first pope that was known as a world traveller. He dispensed with many of the trappings of the Papacy. Sold off papal gear to finance ministry and trips. He was the first pope to set foot in Jerusalem. And made 9 trips during his pontificate including the United States, Middle East, Africa, India, and Philippines.

Many consider his works prophetic. And reading them with an open mind I do not see how you could disagree. You might not like his conclusions, and how society as a whole has changed. But he saw much of the result the changes that had started.

The chapters in this volume are:

1. The Life and Holiness of Pope St. Paul VI
2. Jesus Christ
3. The Church
4. Mary
5. The Second Vatican Council
6. Credo of the People of God
7. The Mass and the Sacraments
8. Joy
9. Marriage, Life, and Family
10. The Human Person
11. The Modern World
12. Peace
13. Prayer, Holiness, and the Life of Faith
14. The Testament of Pope Paul VI
Selected Writings of Pope St. Paul VI

The book draws heavily from the writings of Paul VI and is in fact written around his own words. It is an excellent addition to the canon of work about Paul VI, and one of the first published after his canonization. It does not matter if you are interested in Paul VI, ad a man, as a priest, or as a pope, this book will give you a great deal of detail around the man and his thought.

It is a wonderful volume, and a book I will likely return to again as I continue my studies on Paul VI and his works. If you have already read about Paul this will be a great read. If you have not read much about him, it is an excellent introduction. A great read no matter your level of interest and I highly recommend it.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan!

Other books by or about Pope Paul VI:
Love's True Meaning The Message of Humanae Vitae 50 Years On - Fr Anthony Doe
Paul VI - Anthony Symondson- CTS Biographies
Wisdom from Pope Paul VI - Mary Leonora Wilson FSP
Saint Pope Paul VI  - Matthew Bunson


Books by Matthew Bunson:
Apostle of the Exiled St. Damien of Molokai
Our Sunday Visitor's Encyclopedia of Saints
Encyclopedia of Ancient Rome
Encyclopedia of the Roman Empire
Encyclopedia of U.S. Catholic History
A Dictionary of the Roman Empire
Saint Kateri: Lily of the Mohawks
John Paul II's Book of Saints

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