Monday, April 7, 2014

New Beginning, New Hope (Our Sunday Visitor)

It's been a little over a year since Cardinal Bergoglio was elected Pope Francis. Since that historic election, the media (both secular and Catholic) have had this man under a microscope. Secular media has twisted his words, such as, "Who am I to judge?" in an attempt to push a liberal agenda. Catholic and secular media have turned every day actions of humility, like embracing the sick or going to Confession, into epic acts that no one has ever done before. The media sends the message anytime they praise Pope Francis that Pope Benedict was in some way lacking, which is patently false. Therefore, I would like to invite you to turn off the TV, stop listening to what others are saying about Pope Francis, and read or listen to what Pope Francis is saying! One way to do that is by reading New Beginning, New Hope.

New Beginning, New Hope is a collection of homilies and General Audiences from the first few months after Pope Francis' election in 2013. The book begins on Palm Sunday and concludes on Pentecost Sunday, so you get homilies for Holy Week to the end of Easter, with the exception of Ascension Thursday. When reading through these talks, one can see clear themes of joy, newness, and hope. Pope Francis says on Palm Sunday, "Do not be men and women of sadness: a Christian can never be sad! Never give way to discouragement!" He then encourages us to remember our joy is in Christ, and to not despair when problems occur, because that is when the Devil tries to enter our lives.

Another section that stood out to me was his Easter Vigil homily. In his message, Pope Francis ponders the myrrh-bearing women and what they must have felt when they arrived at Jesus' empty tomb. Referring to Jesus' Resurrection Pope Francis says, "Newness often makes us fearful, including the newness that God brings us, the newness that God asks of us...We are afraid of God's surprises...Dear brothers and sisters, let us not be closed to the newness that God wants to bring into our lives!" These are powerful words, which we would do well to meditate on. This leads to the final message I gleaned from this book on hope. "The Risen Lord is the hope that never fails, that never disappoints (cf. Rom 5:5). Hope does not let us down - the hope of the Lord!" We must not put our hope in earthly things, but in the Lord. That is the only way we can be assured that we will never be disappointed.

If you are looking for a book to read this coming Holy Week and Easter, I recommend New Beginning, New Hope. Each chapter ranges from two to five pages in length, so you won't find yourself frantically reading pages trying to keep up with it, so you finish by Pentecost Sunday. And the best part is that it contains the actual words spoken by Pope Francis, not some sound byte taken out of context. Then, once you've completed this book, read another! I recommend Only Love Can Save Us. This is another set of homilies and talks Pope Francis gave, but these were collected from before he was pope.

This book was provided to me for free by Our Sunday Visitor. If you found this review helpful, please click the link and hit Yes!