CBB Review – Secret to Happiness and Be Not Afraid

This year Pope Francis canonized two of his predecessors as saints. Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII each had their own styles, own areas of focus and both left us with very good spiritual reading. Pauline Books and Media has released two compilations in their “Classic Wisdom Collection” that, like the other volumes in the series, provide solid, time-tested spiritual guidance. Secret to Happiness: Wisdom from John XXIII compiled by Donna Giaimo, FSP and Be Not Afraid: Wisdom from John Paul II compiled by Marianne Lorraine Trouve, FSP are both wonderful additions to this series.

The back cover of Secret to Happiness states: “In our fast-paced world, people who radiate gentleness and humility are beacons who show us the way to happiness. As a priest, pastor, and pope, John XXIII discovered the secret to navigating the pressures and worries of life with serenity and joy. In these pages, delve into the words of his courageous and joyful man who opened a window into a new era for the Church”.

The excerpts for the chapters in this book come primarily from his autobiography Journey of A Soul, as well as various addresses he gave and letters he sent. You will read about Letting Go of What Others Think, Overcoming Self Love, Optimism That Builds Up, and the Comfort of Humility. These are just a few examples from the books twenty-six chapters. The last one was particularly interesting. Titled, The Decalogue of Pope John Paul XXIII, it consists of ten maxims drawn from a number of his writings and presented in a homily given by Cardinal Bertone on October 11, 2006.

From the back cover of Be Not Afraid: “Trusting in God is easier said than done. When we face the inevitable difficulties of life, doubts can creep in, leaving us standing on shaky ground. Pope John Paul II was a man who knew firsthand the hardships of of life and could speak with conviction of God’s faithfulness. In these pages, find yourself invited by the Lord to cast aside your fears and trust in the Father’s never-failing love.”

This volume draws from various Encyclicals, General Audiences, homilies and letters of Pope John Paul II. The twenty-four chapters include those on The Mystery of Original Sin, The Compassion of the Father, The Sincere Gift of Self, The Beatitudes: The Way of Holiness and The Gospel of Life.

Both volumes are invaluable sources of meditation. Time spent with each will be of benefit to anyone looking for solid spiritual direction in their lives. These two men are now great saints and examples for the faithful. They have both left a considerable amount of writings for all of us to learn and grow from. These two volumes offer some highlights of those writings that are welcome additions to Pauline Books and Media’s Classic Wisdom Collection.


I received copies of the books for this review from the publisher, Pauline Books and Media.

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