The Four Must Reads of St. John Paul II

For the times we’re going through right now, Pope John Paul II had a message and has a message that still deeply reverberates in hearts today. In this episode Jeff takes us through four of his favorite writings that have significantly impacted his heart and his life and his conversion to the faith!

Snippet from the Show
My prayer is that every one of my friends with me here today, in one year from now, will have four worn out, written in, meditated upon, and actuated upon writings of St. John Paul II.


The 6 Different Types of Papal Writings

Apostolic Constitutions (Apostolicae Constitutiones)
A) Solemn, formal documents written on matters of the highest consequence concerning doctrinal or disciplinary matters, issued by the pope in his own name.
B) They are published as either universal or particular laws of the Church.
Examples: The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium) 
The Constitution on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Fidei Depositum)

Apostolic Exhortation (Apostolica Exhortatio)
A) A papal reflection on a particular topic that does not contain dogmatic definitions or policy directives.
B) Addressed to bishops, clergy, and all the faithful of the entire Catholic Church.
C) Apostolic exhortations are not legislative documents.
Example: On the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World (Familiiaris Consortion)

Apostolic Letter (Apostolica Epistola)
A formal papal teaching document, not used for dogmatic definitions of doctrine, but to give counsel to the Church on points of doctrine that require deeper explanation in the light of particular circumstances or situations in various parts of the world.

Declarations (Declamatio)
May be a simple statement of law, which must be interpreted according to the existing law; or an authoritative declaration that is retroactive and does not require further promulgation; or an extensive declaration, which modifies the law, is not retroactive and must be promulgated according to the law.

Decree (Decretum)
A) A statement involving Church law, precepts, or judicial decisions on a specific matter.
B) It is an ordinance given by one having the power of jurisdiction (such as a bishop within his particular diocese, the head of an office of the Roman Curia, or the pope), acting administratively to promote compliance with the law.
C) A decree announces that a given document or legislative text is in effect.

Encyclical (Encyclica epistola – literally, “circular letter”)
A formal Apostolic Letter issued by the pope usually addressed to the bishops, clergy, and faithful of the entire Church.
Example: Concerning the Church’s Teaching on Birth Control (Humanae Vitae), issued in 1968 by Pope Paul VI.

Jeff’s Four Must Reads of St. John Paul II:

The Christian Meaning of Human Suffering (Salvifici Doloris)
A) Written February 11, 1984
B) An Apostolic Letter, 56 pages in length with footnotes
C) Topic: What is the meaning behind suffering? Why do we suffer?
D) A great resource that Jeff used for writing his book, When You Suffer!

On Reconciliation and Penance (Reconciliatio et Paenitentia)
A) Written December 2, 1984.
B) An Apostolic Exhortation, 93 pages in length.
C) Topic: What is sin, why we sin, the power of sin and overcoming sin.

On the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World (Familiaris Consortio)
A) Written November 22, 1981
B) An Apostolic Exhortation, 136 pages.
C) Topic: What does it mean to have a Christian family in the modern world? What is the role of the Christian family in the modern world?

Mary, Mother of the Redeemer (Redemptoris Mater)
A) Written March 25, 1987.
B) An Encyclical, 74 pages in length.
C) Topic: What is the role of Mary in the Church, and what is the role of Mary in my life?

To purchase physical copies of each of these writings, please click here!


Ascension is pleased to offer our new and improved online bible study programs and sacramental preparation programs digitally to help you minister with flexibility. Go to to view all our offerings.

Meet Your Host: Jeff Cavins

Jeff Cavins is passionate about helping people understand Scripture and become disciples of Jesus Christ. Though he was born Catholic, Jeff went to Bible school and served as a protestant minister for twelve years before reverting to the Catholic Faith. Jeff then received his MA in Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville. Since then, he has become a leading Catholic evangelist and author.

Jeff created The Bible Timeline learning system, which revolutionized Catholic Bible Study for millions of Catholics. Since its introduction, Jeff has developed The Great Adventure series of Bible studies to help people better understand Sacred Scripture and its meaning for their lives. 

1 Comment

  1. Hello, its nioce post regarding media print, we all be aware of media is a impressive source of information.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Never Miss an Episode!

Get show notes, exclusive bonus content, and more sent straight to your inbox.