Carmen Aguinaco, U. S. Catholic Magazine, Claritian Publications Review

January 5, 2022

Open Mind, Faithful Heart: Mediations on Christian Discipleship is certainly not a book to read in one sitting, but not because of its density or difficulty. The language is accessible and the concepts are not hard to grasp, particularly for those familiar with the gospels.  Rather, the book is a series of invitations and challenges that are all too familiar on the surface. By now most people have read or heard some of the thinking of Pope Francis, and they will not be surprised by what they find here. Behind all the invitations to tenderness, compassion, and mercy, however, there are serious demands and even stern admonitions to “swim against the tide.” More than a work centering on a particular issue, the book is a collection of reflections given to different groups of people at retreats: laypeople, priests, deacons, and men and women religious.

The four parts progressively open a pathway to prayer. The first focuses on the encounter with Jesus through the various dialogues offered in the gospels. The second part consists of “revelations” – small epiphanies in the lives and faith journeys that Christians experience in their discipleship. The third part speaks about the church in its daily and concrete life. Finally, the book ends in an intimate encounter of prayer, accompanied by biblical witnesses who went through all the same temptations that besiege people today.

It is a call to faithfulness and a warning against the temptations that every Christian feels at one point or another: tiredness, jadedness, settling into a comfortable life, clinging to power. There is not, however, a different message for each group, but one and the same for all. The call is to joy, but to a deep joy that is rooted in the cost of discipleship.

Pope Francis leads the reader into demanding proposition, and yet he manages to make them sound completely attainable.

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