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Pope Francis, Walking with Jesus; A Way Forward for the Church (Chicago: Loyola Press, 2015), 135pp.Pope Francis, Walking with Jesus; A Way Forward for the Church (Chicago: Loyola Press, 2015), 135pp.

This isn't a book in the normal sense of the word.  Rather, it's a collection of thirty-six "chapters" in barely a hundred pages, each of which is about three pages long, taken from Pope Francis's encyclicals, apostolic exhortations, homilies, addresses, and messages. That's what you do when you're the Pope (or his minders).

The selections originated as addresses to both clerics and "general audiences" (for example, on World Youth Day).  As you would expect, there's no thematic unity here, despite the title of the book.  There are two exceptions.  First, as the life of a Catholic is distinctly sacramental, one series of chapters explores the seven sacraments — baptism, eucharist, confirmation, confession, anointing, marriage, and holy orders (bishop, priest, deacon).  Another series devotes one chapter to each of the seven spiritual gifts — wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.

Despite these limitations, there's wise advice here.  Francis has shown that he's not interested in just "tinkering with structures," as the book's foreword puts it; what he prays for is a genuine renewal of the heart and spirit of the gospel.  "Life is a journey," he writes, "and when we stop walking and moving, things go wrong."  So, in the words of St. Paul, he invites his readers to "walk worthy of the Lord."

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