Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Pilgrim Fellowship of Faith

Sometimes I feel funny writing a review about books like thisthat have, to some extent, become a type of cultural icon. The then-Cardinal Ratzinger stepping out from behind a door, the Catechism in his hand and his now well-familiar understated smile on his face as the cover shot is now a familiar sight to many. It should come as no surprise that this book covers a wide variety of topics, spanning the range of pretty much every area of Catholic belief. As we continue further into the Benedictine Pontificate many of the topics he covers in this book and how they are covered become more well-known in general, although books like this are equally valuable for the insight into how the Pope both thinks now and has worked in thought through his life. I'd heartily recommend this book to anyone who is interested a not-too-deep but fairly broad insight into the thought of the man who would become Pope Benedict through the years.

Just because, and because it seems like this topic comes up now and again I thought I'd include his reflection on a topic that cannot help but be a hot-button. Even so, you notice right away the now-familiar combination of depth of knowledge, orthodoxy, and pastoral sensitivity - a combination we all would do well to emulate

Thus, for example, in the writings of William of Auvergne we find him making the distinction by which outward and inward communion are connected as are sign and reality. He then explains that the Church would never wish to deprive anyone of that inner communion. When she wields the sword of excommunication, then, according to him, this happens only in order to heal the spiritual communion with this medicine. He then adds a thought that is at the same time consoling and stimulating. He knows, he tells us, that for not a few people the burden of excommunication is as hard to bear as martyrdom. But, he says, very often a person makes more progress in patience and humility as an excommunicate than in the situation when he is outwardly in communion.
That deserves some not-inconsiderable chewing on. The man just makes you think - we are indeed blessed to have him as Pope.