THE JOYFUL BEGGAR
Louis de Wohl
2001 Ignatius Press
This novel centering on the life of St. Francis of Assisi carried me back to Kyiv on my latest transatlantic flight. Jet-lag provided the necessary occasion to read what remained of this lovely book. I don't know how many of the de Wohl novels I have read over the years, but I am thoroughly grateful to Ignatius Press for making these classics available published again and again, and rightly so, since their original edition.
Louis de Wohl treats all his protagonists with great enthusiasm, but I am going to hazard a guess and share my impression that he had a particularly high regard for the Franciscan spirit. Whether they believe it or not themselves, I think de Wohl believed that the Franciscans were the best thing that ever happened to the Holy Land and ultimately the answer to prayers for the preservation of the holy places which enshrine in stone the memory of the earthly life of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
This particular volume is certainly about ultimate choices and life written bigger than most of us folk will ever know. Even so, I think it leaves room for the kind of reflection which informs great choices also in little people. I think young people should read de Wohl, as he illustrates the path out of pragmatism and despair. THE JOYFUL BEGGAR could be for one or another youth the path to life and a source of hope for the Church and the world.