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Journal of a Soul: The Autobiography of Pope John XXIII Paperback – November 9, 1999
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"Indispensable for those who would understand the mind which originated the updating of the Roman Catholic Church."
--The New York Times Book Review
From the Inside Flap
No other pope of this century has aroused so much interest and universal affection throughout the world as has Pope John XXIII. Journal of a Soul is an inspiring reading experience that records this pope's thoughts and traces his spiritual development from adolescence to the seminary to a career as a priest, a European papal diplomat, Patriarch of Venice, and finally Pope John XXIII.
This Image Books edition features a biographical portrait of Pope John by his personal secretary, Monsignor Loris Capovilla. It also includes several of his most moving prayers, sixty brief thoughts and aphorisms, his "Rules for the Ascetic Life," many of his letters, even his last will and testament. Christians everywhere will welcome the reissue of "one of the most original, interesting, and inspiring revelations of intimate personal experiences ever written," which "ranks well with the classic spiritual autobiographies" ("Critic).
Journal of a Soul, the first ever such work from a Roman pontiff, opens new windows onto the soul of the man himself.
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John XXIII had no political axe to grind. By his very nature and the fact that he was expected to be a 'caretaker' he was uniquely able to bring his church into the twentieth century. Some have alleged that through his actions he may have saved the Catholic church for the twenty-first.
This is a unique book, for it demonstrates a man of humility without excessive self-righteousness. His love for God and for his fellow man are demonstrated in equal measure. As some have said of John Paul II, John XXIII 'humanized' the papacy. That he was able to do this without diminishing the authority of his office was part of his genius.
As a previous reviewer noted, I agree that John's work in areas not dominated by Roman Catholics appears to have widened his world, perhaps laying the groundwork for his later ecuminical progress.
This is a memoir that doesn't require one to be a Roman Catholic to enjoy, and to admire. Holiness through living rather than platitudes. Very highly recommended to anyone!
Update: several months after reading the book, I have "upped" my assessment from 3 to 4 stars. Why? It is quite true that the book is mostly conveying the very traditional forms of piety observed by Good John. However, his example really encouraged me to pray more in traditional forms, and this experience has been very enriching. In these days of "felt banner Catholicism," a few traditional devotions are not at all a bad thing.