If we become what we eat, then we also become what we read. As a writer, and a reader first, I have been a book lover my entire life. Maybe it's been the stress, some kind of health problem, or a series of distractions but I've realized that reading has fallen down the ladder of priorities recently. I've also become tethered to the house and it's not as easy for me to leave as it was even six months ago. So I've decided to carve out time on Sundays to read and limit the scope of the books selected to those of a religious or spiritual nature. My selection this week? Rise, Let Us Be On Our Way.
This is the first book I've read by John Paul II and I found it extremely easy to read. The chapters are small not lengthy as, perhaps, expected. The book mainly addresses the role and scope of bishops but there's enough in the text to make it worthwhile for anyone to read. John Paul II details his life as a bishop. What he did. What it meant to him. Why a bishop does what he does and the underlying meanings. The autobiographical thread provides great insight into John Paul's formation as a priest, a bishop, and as a pope. While his earlier autobiographical work dealt with his early years and WWII, in this book we learn how he worked and lived a religious life under a Communist regime. It's easy to understand why so many loved and continue to love him. The challenges he and others faced during the Communist reign in Poland and the refusal by the Polish people to give in to the demand for a secular society shows the type of pressure cooker that strengthend this man and prepared him for his future role.
John Paul's words have the ability to continue to challenge us today. By page four, he had manged to single me out. Here he's talking about vocations and how Christ, prior to his death, gave the apostles, and each of us, a challenge. It's one that makes you think, wonder, perhaps even worry. It makes you ask: Have I met this goal? (I find I'm seriously lacking.) Christ admonishes his disciples to "go and bear fruit that will last" (John 15:16).
I find it's the "that will last" that's become the kicker.