I found out in late May that Pope Francis would be finishing Pope Benedict XVI's last encyclical on faith. Needless to say I was excited, as this would complete Pope Benedict's encyclicals on the three theological virtues of faith, hope, and love. However, I wondered if I was in the minority with my level of excitement. I hopped on my Facebook to share the news I had read, only to see others were already talking about it and just as excited. I hadn't seen this much excitement over the release of a work since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Well, it's been almost three months, since Lumen Fidei was released. I have been trying to figure out how to review this one of a kind work (only encyclical written by two popes), and I have come to the conclusion that the only way is CAREFULLY! So...here goes nothing!
Lumen Fidei is both the last encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI and the first encyclical of Pope Francis. It was appropriately released on June 29th, the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. Those two great saints and apostles helped build the Church. Likewise, the two great popes who authored this encyclical help to teach, guide, and protect the Church today. This work starts out by appropriately discussing the light and dark imagery that pervades the entire Gospel of John. It then goes on to briefly discuss the Year of Faith and the importance of this year and faith in general. This leads us to the four different chapters of this encyclical.
- We have Believed in Love (cf. 1 Jn 4:16)
- Unless you Believe, you will not Understand (cf. Is 7:9)
- I Delivered to you what I also Received (cf. 1 Cor 15:3)
- God Prepares a City for them (Heb 11:16)
I am in no way qualified to review the quality of the writing, nor the message. Instead, I will speak of my favorite part of this encyclical, which was Chapter 1. In this chapter, the reader is treated to a chronological walkthrough of our faith. It begins by discussing Abraham, the father of our faith. We mainly remember that his faith was put to the test when God told him to kill his son Isaac, but it was tested in more ways than just that one trial. We next move to the people of Israel, which shows both their belief and unbelief through the ages. Then, we reach the fullness of faith, which is Jesus and His love for us demonstrated in His death for us. Faith has now been focused and centered on Jesus, which leads to salvation.
Apart from the content, which is brilliant and enlightening, the format this book was printed in is superb. There are several publishers who have released editions of Lumen Fidei
. None of them are as beautiful as the hardcover from Ignatius Press. It may cost a little bit more, but it's worth the price as it will not only look good on your bookshelf but also stand the test of time that a paperback wouldn't when you read this multiple times. It also complements the other three hardcover encyclicals of Pope Benedict as well. My only hope is that one day they will release a one volume edition of all fourteen of Pope John Paul II's encyclicals.