Faith is a hard topic to write about. In one sense, of course, all theological writing is about faith. Yet, faith is not easily definable. This is mainly, I suppose, because it is to be lived rather than dissected. Faith is better understood on the journey than in the classroom. This is why writers like Frederick Buechner, for example, are such great writers on faith – they help us to journey with them through their writing. Pope Francis, however, brings us to the scriptures and helps us realize that while faith may not be definable, it can be observed precisely because faith is not primarily personal. The journey to be observed is not only ours, but all of those who bear the light of Christ. Personal faith can only exist because of corporate faith, or as Pope Francis writes “We can respond in the singular – ‘I believe’ – only because we are part of a greater fellowship, only because we also say ‘We believe’.” His writings explore faith as rooted in the communal understanding of hope and love (humbly carrying on the work of his predecessor). Here in this encyclical of both Pope Francis (his first) and Pope Benedict XVI (his last) is a work that will lead the reader to not only better understand faith, but also to be inspired to live it in hope and love with her fellow believers. Aside from the encyclical, the forward by Scott Hahn is a great primer for what the reader will delve into as they approach this great work.

*I received an advanced copy of this book from netgalley