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Journal of a Soul: The Autobiography of Pope John XXIII [Paperback]

Pope John XXIII
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 9 1999
No other pope of this century has aroused so much interest and universal affection throughout the world as has Pope John XXIII. Journal of a Soul is an inspiring reading experience that records this pope's thoughts and traces his spiritual development from adolescence to the seminary to a career as a priest, a European papal diplomat, Patriarch of Venice, and finally Pope John XXIII.

This Image Books edition features a biographical portrait of Pope John by his personal secretary, Monsignor Loris Capovilla. It also includes several of his most moving prayers, sixty brief thoughts and aphorisms, his "Rules for the Ascetic Life," many of his letters, even his last will and testament. Christians everywhere will welcome the reissue of "one of the most original, interesting, and inspiring revelations of intimate personal experiences ever written," which "ranks well with the classic spiritual autobiographies" (Critic).

Journal of a Soul, the first ever such work from a Roman pontiff, opens new windows onto the soul of the man himself.

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Journal of a Soul: The Autobiography of Pope John XXIII + The Church of Mercy
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Review

"Indispensable for those who would understand the mind which originated the updating of the Roman Catholic Church."
--The New York Times Book Review

From the Back Cover

"Indispensable for those who would understand the mind which originated the updating of the Roman Catholic Church."
--The New York Times Book Review

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring For A Protestant-- Dec 1 2000
By JK
While I am not a Roman Catholic, I have always been interested in the history and politics of the Holy See and the Popes. It is fascinating that John XXIII, in his short tenure as Pope, appears today to have influenced the world of his faith more than either his predecessor, Pius (Pacelli), or his successor, Paul (Montini). These were both highly political leaders with failings common to all politicians, religious or secular.
John XXIII had no political axe to grind. By his very nature and the fact that he was expected to be a 'caretaker' he was uniquely able to bring his church into the twentieth century. Some have alleged that through his actions he may have saved the Catholic church for the twenty-first.
This is a unique book, for it demonstrates a man of humility without excessive self-righteousness. His love for God and for his fellow man are demonstrated in equal measure. As some have said of John Paul II, John XXIII 'humanized' the papacy. That he was able to do this without diminishing the authority of his office was part of his genius.
As a previous reviewer noted, I agree that John's work in areas not dominated by Roman Catholics appears to have widened his world, perhaps laying the groundwork for his later ecuminical progress.
This is a memoir that doesn't require one to be a Roman Catholic to enjoy, and to admire. Holiness through living rather than platitudes. Very highly recommended to anyone!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Religious change -- the genesis Nov. 26 1999
It was extremely enlightening to discover how one of the seminal religious figures of the 20th century came to be the person he was. He was, after all, installed as a "caretaker pope" at the age of 77. Instead of being a caretaker he substantially reformed the Roman Catholic Church. His journal describes how he evolved from a devout religious young man from a peasant background to a leader in the ecumenical movement. We learn how being a bishop for Bulgaria, Turkey and Greece (where there are few Roman Catholics) enlarged his view toward other traditions. Additionally we find how he was surprised when he came up with the idea of the Second Vatican Council. I found this book very uplifting. Change can happen, and can happen unexpectedly.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Remarkable Book June 22 2000
This is a fascinating and even inspiring glimpse into the heart and soul of a man who very seriously sought to do the will of God. It is a remarkably personal testament from somebody who rose to preside over the Church of Rome -- a document that, at least in my experience, has few modern parallels. One doesn't have to be Catholic (I'm a Mormon) to admire his integrity, to learn and profit a great deal from an outstanding man's honest struggles to discern and carry out what he regarded as divine purpose, and from the manner in which he grew over a long and notable ministry.
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3.0 out of 5 stars redundant and a bit boring Aug. 31 2001
i was looking for an inspirational work on such an inspirational figure...wasn't there. Quite repetitive and I'm afraid his spirituality was redundant, a bit boring and reflected asceticism and fear & trembling. HOWEVER, he did a great job with VII and responded nicely to the Holy Spirit. His best line that I know of is when asked: "How many people work at the Vatican?" His reply: "Oh, about half."
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  38 reviews
71 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring For A Protestant-- Dec 1 2000
By JK - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
While I am not a Roman Catholic, I have always been interested in the history and politics of the Holy See and the Popes. It is fascinating that John XXIII, in his short tenure as Pope, appears today to have influenced the world of his faith more than either his predecessor, Pius (Pacelli), or his successor, Paul (Montini). These were both highly political leaders with failings common to all politicians, religious or secular.
John XXIII had no political axe to grind. By his very nature and the fact that he was expected to be a 'caretaker' he was uniquely able to bring his church into the twentieth century. Some have alleged that through his actions he may have saved the Catholic church for the twenty-first.
This is a unique book, for it demonstrates a man of humility without excessive self-righteousness. His love for God and for his fellow man are demonstrated in equal measure. As some have said of John Paul II, John XXIII 'humanized' the papacy. That he was able to do this without diminishing the authority of his office was part of his genius.
As a previous reviewer noted, I agree that John's work in areas not dominated by Roman Catholics appears to have widened his world, perhaps laying the groundwork for his later ecuminical progress.
This is a memoir that doesn't require one to be a Roman Catholic to enjoy, and to admire. Holiness through living rather than platitudes. Very highly recommended to anyone!
42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Religious change -- the genesis Nov. 26 1999
By Robert P. Gray - Published on Amazon.com
It was extremely enlightening to discover how one of the seminal religious figures of the 20th century came to be the person he was. He was, after all, installed as a "caretaker pope" at the age of 77. Instead of being a caretaker he substantially reformed the Roman Catholic Church. His journal describes how he evolved from a devout religious young man from a peasant background to a leader in the ecumenical movement. We learn how being a bishop for Bulgaria, Turkey and Greece (where there are few Roman Catholics) enlarged his view toward other traditions. Additionally we find how he was surprised when he came up with the idea of the Second Vatican Council. I found this book very uplifting. Change can happen, and can happen unexpectedly.
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Remarkable Book June 22 2000
By D. Peterson - Published on Amazon.com
This is a fascinating and even inspiring glimpse into the heart and soul of a man who very seriously sought to do the will of God. It is a remarkably personal testament from somebody who rose to preside over the Church of Rome -- a document that, at least in my experience, has few modern parallels. One doesn't have to be Catholic (I'm a Mormon) to admire his integrity, to learn and profit a great deal from an outstanding man's honest struggles to discern and carry out what he regarded as divine purpose, and from the manner in which he grew over a long and notable ministry.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The Good Pople John" July 17 2005
By Michael G. Batcho - Published on Amazon.com
"Journal of A Soul" . . . even the title of this volume is evocative of Saint Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower (her autobiography is titled "The Story of A Soul"). It is appropriate this this "great man" was at the same time such a "humble" man . . . like Saint Therese's "little ones living the little way" (in fact Pope John XXIII (Angelo Roncalli) was a soul devoted to Saint Therese).

This journal or "diary" written by Angel Roncalli chronicles his life . . from youth until just before his passing . .from a student . .to Vativcan diplomat . . . to "Pope". It is not a simple recounting of biographical events . . . but give us John XXIII's thoughts as to how and why he lived these events . . .the spiritual judgements which guided him along his journey. . .

Pope John XXIII always remained faithful to the spirit of God and His guidance and direction . . . yes, he grew in spirit and evolved . . and yet always remained consistently "the same person". He never lived a pretense . . . he was who and what he was . . . andc he presented that face to the world in all honesty and humility. . . . and he was accepted by so many because of this straitforwardness . . he was loved . . . by catholics and non-catholics alike. He opened doors, not just the "aggiornomento" of the church . . . but he opened doors of people's hearts, not just to him . . .but to each other.

There would have been no "Vatican Council II" without his initiative and spirit to set it on its course. The sixties were also a time of "loosening" and "opening windows" everywhere . . . there may not have been a 'sixties" as we know them had there not come into the fore Pope John XXIII. So much of our open debate and discussion in religious and ecclesial and even "spiritual" matters flows from the open windows this man threw wide to let in "fresh air". . . and the air still blows in those windows to help keep our own heads clear.

This is "the book' to read if you want to know "the man" in his own thoughts. . . in his own prayers . . in his own written words. . . . a truly good book from a truly good man.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Soul to Soul July 6 2005
By PJ DeAngelis - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
In the most intimate words, recalling events of the day in diary form, here is a look into the Soul of Blessed John XXlll. Reading through the pages of the book cannot help but touch your soul as well as your mind! From a teen in Sotto Il Monte through his Pontificate, a most tender selection of joy, trust, sorrow, pain, and hope are shared here. His uncompromising adoration and devotion to Jesus, the Gospels and the Church come through not by preaching about it, but rather through the way he lived, and prayed. Devout from his youth, and fiercly loyal to his convictions, that's the example of his life. He embodied the forgiving aspect of Christ, and lived it... and so much more was our Blessed John. While this was never written with the intention of one day becoming the autobiography of a Great Pontiff, it was taken from bits and pieces of scrap paper, papers of differing sizes, notebooks, etc., which Blessed John kept from the time he began writing his diary at about age 14. Reading these selections can only make your heart swell with affection, gratitude and love for this gentle giant of our times. No, he was not just a "poor" "good" Pope, he was a kind, loving, and brilliant Prince of the Church, who was never tainted or taken far from his humble roots. I've found that no matter what words I call up in an effort to describe our Beloved John, only through the reading of this profound work of the heart and soul will you begin to approach the feeling that no words can quite conjure up. This is a gem in my library, and Blessed John remains even more Beloved than I thought possible!
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