Time's 2013 Person of the Year. I have mixed feelings over this. On the one hand, it's a great testament to him and the attention he has received for focusing on the poor and neglected of the world. On the other hand, liberal media likes to spin things their own way with sound bytes and quotes from his writings taken out of context. What is a Catholic to do if he wants to know what Pope Francis actually has to say on certain issues? There is only one solution, and that is to put down the newspaper, cut off the TV and read his actual words.
Only Love Can Save Us is the second published collection of letters, homilies, and talks that Pope Francis gave before he was elected Pope Francis. The first anthology was titled Encountering Christ and drew mainly on homilies for specific feasts, like Ash Wednesday, Easter Vigil, and Corpus Christi. This book, however, focuses its selections on Pope Francis' words on love and charity. As can be expected, there is some overlap between the two. After all, you can't encounter Christ without love and charity. Therefore, you will notice that Only Love Can Save Us talks # I, XV, and XVI are also found in Encountering Christ.
The most interesting of the chapters to me was "Chapter XI: Freely You Have Received, Freely Give." In this Lenten letter, which only spans three pages, Cardinal Bergoglio discusses complacency in life. I use the term discuss very loosely, as it is more of an exhortation against growing complacent. "We get used to waking up each day as though this is the only way things can be. We grow accustomed to violence as something that is never missing from the news. We get used to the habitual landscape of poverty and misery as we walk the streets of our cities. We get used to youngsters shedding their blood and women picking up what others have discarded and carting it off. We get used to living in a pagan society where kids no longer know how to pray or make the Sign of the Cross. This complacency numbs our hearts, destroying any capacity for that sense of wonder which renews our hope. We are unable to recognize evil and fight against it."
If you are looking for a clear representation of what Pope Francis believes, then look no further than this book. With topics such as marriage, children, the elderly, etc., all covered through the lens of love, you will be inspired to do more and be more for others. We can't just sit back and expect the world to get better on its own. We can't expect the hungry to be fed, the naked to be clothed, and the sick to be treated without Christian charity. Only Love Can Save Us is the wake-up call we all need to hear.
This book was provided to me free by Our Sunday Visitor. If you found this review helpful, please click the link and hit Yes!