cover image Happiness in This Life

Happiness in This Life

Pope Francis. Random House, $27 (247p) ISBN 978-0-52551-097-0

With this wide-ranging collection of writings, homilies, and addresses, the current pontiff dispels any notion that religious practice is dour and antiquated. True to his origins as a Jesuit priest, Pope Francis places the laity above all else and urges Catholics, especially young adults, to use their grace to help the less fortunate: “This is the prayer that a young person should make: ‘Lord, what do you want from me?’ ” Francis endorses reading the Beatitudes in order to find true inner happiness and exhorts readers to memorize them in the same way they would memorize the Ten Commandments. Francis rails against consumerism, arguing that the desire to continually acquire material goods only leads to spiritual emptiness: “Let us distance ourselves from the longing to possess things, from the idolatry of money, and from wastefulness.” This hodgepodge of quotes grouped loosely together is nonetheless inspiring. It brings together the pope’s most affecting passages to inspire Catholics (and those of other faiths) to lift up those around them who suffer. (Dec.)