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Friday, 24 June 2022

Give Yourself to Christ - Pope Benedict XVI - CTS Books

Give Yourself to Christ: 
First Homilies of Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI
ISBN 9781860823374
ISBN 1860823378
CTS Booklet D675


Over the last few years I have read over 275 books and booklets from the Catholic Truth Society. In fact as of the reading of this volume I have read 290 different titles and many of them multiple times. While researching a different book to review it I stumbled across several older titles from the CTS by Pope Benedict XVI. This is one of about a dozen that I added to my ‘to be read’ pile when I found them. Because they are out of print they can be harder to track down. This was the third I have tracked down and they have all been well worth it. The description of this book is:

“The passing of one Pope and the election of a successor are events that combine to form a momentous few weeks in the life of the Catholic Church - and, as the events of April 2005 have illustrated, even beyond to a wider audience. The death of Pope John Paul II and the election of Pope Benedict XVI have certainly raised the interest of millions around the globe.

This collection of the homilies given by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger during the period between the death of John Paul II, and his own election and inauguration as Pope Benedict XVI, capture the sentiments and aspirations not only of one man, or of the College of Cardinals, but the aspirations and prayers of a whole people.”

I read this book right after reading Conclave Step by Step through the Papal Interregnum by Monsignor Charles Burns O.B.E. part of the CTS Explanations Series which was a perfect volume to read before this one. Thay one dealt with the process and people involved in the election that selected Benedict XVI and this is a series of Homilies and talks, the first given by Benedict XVI.

The chapters in this book are:

Introduction 

1. Homily at the Funeral Mass of john Paul II of His Eminence Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Dean of the College of Cardinals, St Peter's Square, Friday, 8 April 2005. 

2. Homily at the Mass for the Election of the Roman Pontiff of His Eminence Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Dean of the College of Cardinals, Vatican Basilica, Monday 18 April 2005.

3. Apostolic Blessing "Urbi et Orbi" of His Holiness Benedict XVI, St Peter's Square, 19 April, 2005.

4. First Message of His Holiness Benedict XVI at the end of the Eucharistic Concelebration with the Members of the College of Cardinals, The Sistine Chapel, Wednesday, 20 April 2005.

5. Homily of His Holiness. Benedict  XVI at the Mass for the Inauguration of His Pontificate. St. Peter’s Square. Sunday, 241 April 2005.

6. Homily of His Holiness Benedict SVU when visiting the Sepulchre of the Apostle to the Gentiles, Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls

7 Why the name Benedict?
  
Biographical Note 
Pope Benedict XVI’s Published Works

The first words in this book after the title page are:

“If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation". 

It is taken from his Homily during the Inaugural Mass. St Peter's Square, 24 April 2005. When I read some of Benedict XVI’s theological work there is effort involved and sometimes reading and rereading. But these Homilies are so accessible, open, and honest. The vulnerability Benedict has shown before his brothers in the clergy and all of us, Catholics and all people of this planet. Some even to this day refer to Pope Benedict XVI as Saint John Paul II’s Rottweiler, but in reading his words in this volume I do not know how anyone could see him in that light.

I highlighted many passages in this book my first time through it. Some of them were:

“The passing of one Pope and the election of a successor are events that combine to form a momentous few weeks in the life of the Catholic Church – and, as the events of April 2005 have illustrated, even beyond to a wider audience. The death of Pope John Paul II and the election of Pope Benedict XVI have certainly raised the interest of millions around the globe.”

“This collection of homilies given by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger during the period between the death of John Paul II , and his own election and inauguration as Pope Benedict XVI, capture the sentiments and aspirations nor only of one man, or of the College of Cardinals, but the aspirations and prayers of a whole people.”

“Al this moment of great responsibility let us listen with special attention to what the Lord says to us in his own words. I would like to examine just a few passages from the three readings that concern us directly at this time.”

“After the great Pope John Paul II, the Cardinals have elected me, a simple and humble labourer in the vineyard of the Lord. The fact that the Lord knows how to work and to act even with inadequate instruments comforts me, and above all I entrust myself to your prayers.”

“Grace and peace in abundance to all of you! In my soul there are two contrasting sentiments in these hours. On the one hand, a sense of inadequacy and human turmoil for the responsibility entrusted to me yesterday as the Successor of the Apostle Peter in this See of Rome, with regard to the Universal Church. On the other hand I sense within me profound gratitude to God Who - as the liturgy makes us sing - docs not abandon flock. But leads it throughout time, under the guidance  of those whom He has chosen as vicars of His Son, and made pastors.”

“I ask everyone to intensify in coming months love and devotion to the Eucharistic Jesus and to express in a courageous and clear way the real presence of the Lord, above all through the solemnity and the correctness of the celebrations.”

“Theological dialogue is necessary. A profound exanimation of the historical reasons behind past choices is also indispensable. But even more urgent is that 'purification of memory,’ which was so often evoked by John Paul II, and which alone can dispose souls to welcome the full truth of Christ.”

“We were also consoled as we made our solemn entrance into Conclave, to elect the one whom the Lord had chosen. How would we be able to discern his name? How could 115 Bishops, from every culture and every country, discover the one on whom the Lord wished to confer the mission of binding and loosing?”

“Loving means giving the sheep what is truly good, the nourishment of God’s truth, of God’s word, the nourishment of his presence, which he gives us in the Blessed Sacrament. My dear friends - at this moment I can only say: pray for me, that I may learn to love the Lord more and more. Pray for me, that I may learn to love his flock more and more - in other words, you, the holy Church, each one of you and all of you together. Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves. Let us pray for one another, that the Lord will carry us and that we will learn co carry one another.”

“It is really true: as we follow Christ  in this mission to be fishers of men, we must bring men and women out of the sea that is salted with so many forms of alienation and onto the land of life, into the light or God. It is really so: the purpose of our lives is to reveal God to men. And only where God is seen does Life truly begin. Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is.”

“At this point, my mind goes back to 22 October 1978, w hen Pope John Paul II began his ministry here in Saint Peter's Square. His words on that occasion constantly echo in my ears: “Do not be afraid! Open wide the doors for Christ!” The Pope was addressing the mighty, the powerful of this world, who feared that Christ might take away something of their power if they were to let him in, if they were to allow the faith to be free.”

“The 20th century was a time of martyrdom. Pope John Paul II highlighted it clearly, asking the Church to "actualize the Martyrology" and canonized and beatified numerous martyrs of recent history. Therefore, the blood of martyrs is the seed of new Christians, especially where it has suffered most for the faith and the testimony of the Gospel.”

I hope those few samples will give you a feel for the richness of these texts. The passion and hope that Pope Benedict XVI’s papacy began with. This is a wonderful volume filled with faith, intent and purpose. It deeply stirred and moved me and I am certain it will do the same for all who read it with an open heart and mind. These are wonderfully pastoral works. And I highly recommend them. Another excellent resource from the Catholic Church Society! 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books by Benedict XVI:

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