A Sign of Contradiction
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By Karol Wojtyła
“Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign of contradiction.” For the 1976 Lenten retreat to St. Paul VI and the Roman curia, Karol Wojtyła set this prophecy of Simeon to the Holy Family at the heart of his preaching. Over the course of twenty-two meditations, Wojtyła examines and tests the apparent contradictions in the words and deeds of Jesus Christ—all of which are occasions for profound encounters with God himself. Indeed, the “words a sign of contradiction sum up most felicitously the whole truth about Jesus Christ, his mission, and his Church.”
In this newly revised and updated translation, A Sign of Contradiction shows Wojtyła’s prowess as theologian, philosopher, and preacher, and witnesses to his zeal for the Gospel and his love of Jesus Christ—“who meets the man of every age, including our own, with the same words: You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
Jesus Christ, the sign of contradiction, was above all the “lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world…” [T]hat is what he is in the life of the People of God. The Lamb of God, the paschal sacrifice, a reminder of past deliverance and a promise of deliverance to come. (Karol Wojtyła)
Karol Wojtyła (Saint John Paul II) (1920–2005) served as Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church from 1978 until his death in 2005. Universally acknowledged as one of the most influential figures of the twentieth century, he worked tirelessly to spread the Gospel. In addition to fourteen papal encyclicals, his writings include Love and Responsibility, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, and Memory and Identity.
Praise for A Sign of Contradiction
“The impression Karol Wojtyła made in Rome during the 1976 Lenten retreat he preached for Pope Paul VI and his closest collaborators was likely a factor in the Polish cardinal's election to the papacy two years later. The meditations given during that retreat are also a preview of some of the key themes of John Paul II's pontificate, especially his passion for proposing Jesus Christ as the answer to the question that is every human life. This is a spiritual and intellectual feast, well worth reading and rereading over the years.”
–George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow and William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies Ethics and Public Policy Center
“People often ask for an introduction to the spiritual world of St. John Paul; here is an introduction written by the saint himself. These retreat conferences admirably recapitulate all the main themes of his Christocentric spirituality.”
–John Crosby, Professor of Philosophy, Franciscan University of Steubenville
“The gentle confidence and encouraging hope that marked John Paul II’s papacy animates these reflections on 'the hermeneutics of the mystery of man.' Inspired by themes of the Second Vatican Council, Wojtyła fearlessly receives modern anxieties, reframing them as questions at the heart of human experience, only ever answered in Christ.”
–Joshua Hochschild, Professor / Director of Philosophy, Politics, & Economics Program (PPE), Mount St. Mary’s University
“This exquisite volume invites each of us to go on retreat with Saint John Paul II. It is a retreat for the mind and the soul, led by one of the great spiritual masters of all time. Reflecting deeply on scripture and the challenges of our age, the Pope shows that the answer to the question of every human heart is found by seeking, finding, and loving God. This updated English translation is a treasure for all who love this great saint.”
–Anna Halpine, Founder, World Youth Alliance