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Table of Contents


1  Deep Conversion/Deep Prayer

2  Gospel Spirituality & Catholic Worship: Integrating your personal prayer life and liturgical experience

3  Hidden Mountain, Secret Garden: A Theological Contemplation on Prayer

4  Death on a Friday Afternoon: Meditations on the Last Words of Jesus from the Cross

5  New Seeds of Contemplation

6  Happy Are You Poor: The Simple Life and Spiritual Freedom

7  Saved in Hope: Spe Salvi

8  God Wants You Happy: From Self-Help to God’s Help

9  The Joy of Full Surrender

10 The Seven Storey Mountain

11 Beginning to Pray

12 The Everlasting Man

13 Back to Virtue

14 Journey to Easter

15 No Man is an Island

16 The Sanctifier

17 Orthodoxy

18 Fire Within

19 Love Set Free

20 Thoughts in Solitude

21 The Cloud of Unknowing

22 The Spirit of the Liturgy

23 Seeking Spiritual Direction: How to Grow the Divine Life Within

24 Heaven in Our Hands: Living the Beatitudes

25 My Other Self

26 The Science of the Cross

27 Treatise on the Love of God

28 Authenticity: A Biblical Theology of Discernment

29 The Wisdom of the Desert

30 Crossing the Threshold of Hope

31 The Imitation of Christ

32 The Interior Castle

33 Prayer Primer

34 The Screwtape Letters

35 The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross

36 Spiritual Direction & Meditation

37  Four Quartets

38 Overcoming Life’s Challenges

39 Jesus of Nazareth

40 Patience of a Saint

41 Navigating the Interior Life

42 The New Man



Crossing the Threshold of Hope

Crossing the Threshold of Hope

by Pope Saint John Paul II (1994)

John Paul II will be canonized on April 27, 2014 — just inside four weeks from now. Now might be a good time to pick this one up and read, or reread it.

This was intended originally to be an in-person broadcast interview, but because of the Pope’s busy travel schedule, it had to be cancelled. But the interviewer-to-be, Vittorio Messori, had sent John Paul the list of questions beforehand. The Pope thought they were good questions, worthy of thoughtful answers, so he developed answers to them in his spare moments, sending them back through his secretary, with a suggested title, which Messori kept.

Thus this book came to be. It is a bit of a one of a kind work. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (and later as Pope Benedict VXI) sat for similar book length interviews, but this one was done in isolation — a virtual interview of sorts, that reads more like a live chat might today. If the person live-chatting was the visible head of the Roman Catholic Church.

Here are a couple segments from early in the book. First, from “Praying: How and Why” (all emphasis original):

One can and must pray in many different ways, as the Bible teaches through a multitude of examples. The Book of Psalms is irreplaceable. We must pray with “inexpressible groanings” in order to enter into rhythm with the Spirit’s own entreaties. To obtain forgiveness one must implore, becoming part of the loud cries of Christ the Redeemer (cf. Heb 5:7). Through all of this one must proclaim glory. Prayer is always an opus gloriae (a work, a labor, of glory). Man is the priest of all creation. Christ conferred upon him this dignity and vocation. Creation completes its opus gloriae both by being what it is and by its duty to become what should be.

In a certain sense science and technology also contribute to this goal. But at the same time, since they are human works, they can lead away from this goal. In our civilization in particular there is such a risk, making it difficult for our civilization to be one of life and love. Missing is precisely the opus gloriae, which is the fundamental destiny of every creature, and above all of man, who was created in order to become, in Christ, the priest, prophet, and king of all earthly creatures.

Much has been written about prayer, and further, prayer has been widely experienced in the history of humankind, especially in the history of Israel and Christianity. Man achieves the fullness of prayer not when he expresses himself, but when he lets God be most fully present in prayer. The history of mystical prayer in the East and West attests to this: Saint Francis, Saint Teresa of Avila, Saint John of the Cross, Saint Ignatius of Loyola, and, in the East, for example, Saint Serafim of Sarov and many others.

-pp. 16-17

The second excerpt is from ‘What Does “To Save” Mean?’:

Christianity is a religion of salvation. The salvation in question is that of the Cross and the Resurrection. God, who desires that man “may live” (cf. Ez 18:23), draws near to him through the death of His Son in order to reveal that life to which he is called in God Himself. Everyone who looks for salvation, not only the Christian, must stop before the Cross of Christ.

Will he be willing to accept the truth of the Paschal Mystery, or not? Will he have faith? This is yet another issue. This Mystery of salvation is an event which has already taken place. God has embraced all men by the Cross and the Resurrection of His Son. God embraces all men with the life which was revealed in the Cross and in the Resurrection, and which is constantly being born anew from them. As indicated by the allegory of “the vine” and “the branches” in the Gospel of John (cf. Jn 15:1-8), the Paschal Mystery is by now grafted onto the history of humanity, onto the history of every individual.

-pp. 70-71

In some ways, the theme of hope found in these pages seems to have made its way into Benedict’s encyclical Saved in Hope.