Orbis Books Spotlight
[googlefont font=“Cormorant Infant” fontsize=”20″]By Robert Ellsberg[/googlefont]
What do the pope’s messages to young people and his call to holiness have in common? For one thing, they are both the subjects of new titles published by Orbis Books.
The Courage To Be Happy: The Pope Speaks to the Youth of the World collects Pope Francis’ talks to young people, both in audiences in Rome and in his travels around the world, including his trips to Rio de Janeiro and Krakow for World Youth Day gatherings, his annual statements for World Youth Day, and his preparations for the upcoming Synod on Youth and the next Youth Day gathering in Panama. Nowhere do the pope’s exuberance and outgoing personality seem to come more alive than in these encounters and messages. Constantly he exhorts his “dear young people” to “have a deep spirit,” to “dream of great things,” and to have the “courage to be happy.”
But there is also a serious side to his appeals. In his recent sermon for World Youth Day, he addressed the joy that Jesus awakens in young people, “a source of anger and irritation to some, since a joyful young person is hard to manipulate!” The power of his homily was amplified by the fact that it came one day after the “March for Our Lives,” a massive protest by young people in the United States and around the world against the ongoing pandemic of gun violence. Not everyone welcomed these protests. But it was hard to miss the pope’s meaning when he concluded: “Dear young people, you have it in you to shout. … It is up to you not to keep quiet. Even if others keep quiet, if we older people and leaders—so often corrupt—keep quiet, if the whole world keeps quiet and loses its joy, I ask you: Will you cry out? Please, make that choice, before the stones themselves cry out.”
Commenting on this collection, Brandon Vogt from the non-profit media apostolate Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, notes: “Give this book to any young person you know and show them the most effective way to happiness.” Widening the audience, the same could be said of the pope’s new apostolic exhortation, Gaudate et Exsultate, available now from Orbis in Rejoice and Be Glad: On the Call to Holiness in Today’s World.
For Pope Francis, the call to holiness is not just for the spiritual elite. It is a call for all of us to live and experience “the joy of the Gospel.” That calling may require that we run against the current of a world preoccupied with power, wealth and status. The Beatitudes, which form the center of the pope’s reflections, provide a spiritual “identity card” that is quite distinct from the usual criteria of worldly success. Yet, as the pope reminds us, there is a deep connection between holiness, beatitude and the “courage to be happy,” in the deepest meaning of that word.
In an extensive reflection included in this edition, Jesuit Father James Martin lauds this little book as “certainly one of the most beautiful and clearest explications of holiness that I have ever read,” noting that its grace lies “in its invitation for all human beings to become saints, and to do it in their own ways.” A message in which we can all “rejoice and be glad.”
To find more information on the book, or to purchase, please visit OrbisBooks.com