Monday, January 30, 2017

Father Benedict (Sophia Institute Press)

People of my age grew up only knowing one pope - John Paul II. He was without question a great pope. However, I converted to Catholicism in 2003, which was the tail end of his papacy. Therefore, the pope of my spiritual childhood, the one I most related to and identified with was Pope Benedict XVI. Pope Benedict is widely considered the greatest theologian of this day and age. Even though he didn't write as many works (encyclicals and whatnot) while he was pope, the amount of works he penned as Joseph Ratzinger could fill a library. In his recent book, Father Benedict, author James Day takes the teachings of our former pope and explains them to us and how they can help the modern world.

The book begins by speaking of his resignation, how he never wanted to be pope, and the transition from Benedict to Francis. The second chapter shifts to the time immediately before and after Pope John Paul II's death. In this time, we see Cardinal Ratzinger already fighting against relativism. We then see in Ratzinger's writing his warning against personal sin, believing it to be "the source of man's pervading unhappiness and alienation from others and from God." My favorite chapter was the fifth one. In this section, the author focused on Pope Benedict's trilogy Jesus of Nazareth. "He saw it as his final literary mission to present the public a comprehensive study of Jesus that is intellectually rigorous and does not talk down to the audience." He absolutely succeeded in this regard and that series has a special place on my shelf. Other chapters break open his encyclicals, views on art, and Catholic education as well.

Father Benedict is a fine introduction to the life and writings of Pope Benedict XVI. If you are unfamiliar with him or his works, then this book is a good start for you. If you have already read a great deal of his works, then this book might be a nice refresher, but would probably present you with nothing you didn't already know. I think an appendix that listed all of his works would have been extremely helpful, but you can look that up online if you would like. The best thing about this book is that it is going to get people reading more of Pope Benedict's writings, so in that regard it is a great success.

This book was provided to me for free by Sophia Institute Press.