Sunday 2 April 2023

Lent, the Journey to Easter Joy: More Words of Encouragement - Pope Benedict XVI - CTS Books

Lent, the Journey to Easter Joy: More Words of Encouragement 
Pope Benedict XVI
ISBN 9781860825699
CTS Booklet Do805

There are numerous volumes by Pope Benedict XVI from the Catholic Truth Society that are currently out of print. I have been slowing tracking them down to read. This is one of two I have read during Lent in 2023. Almost every time I read a volume from the CTS I find another book or 2 I want to read. I have read a few from the Pen of Benedict XVI, have a few others, and there are several that are out of print are on my wish list. This one is another taken from a collection of homilies and it is an excellent little read. 

Over the last several years I have read over 300 volumes from the Catholic Truth Society. In fact, this is the 344th book or booklet from the CTS that I have read several of them by or about Pope Benedict. 

The description of this volume:

“Each year, Lent offers us a providential opportunity to deepen the meaning and value of our Christian lives. It stimulates us to rediscover the mercy of God so that we, in turn, may become more merciful cowards our brothers and sisters. In the Lenten period, the Church makes it her duty to propose some specific tasks that accompany the faithful concretely in this process of interior renewal: these are prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Drawing from his recent addresses and homilies, this booklet brings home Pope Benedict's urgent call to conversion of heart and therefore to happiness. The journey to Easter joy begins on Ash Wednesday and takes us through Lent, Palm Sunday, Holy Week, the Triduum and Easter Vigil, Eastertide and finally to Pentecost. The pilgrim could have no belter spiritual guide than Benedict XVI.”

This booklet draws from homilies and addresses of Pope Benedict XVI made during Lent, Eastertide and Pentecost in 2008.

The chapters in the volume are:

Christ made Himself Poor for You 
The Lenten Season 
Ash Wednesday's Ashes 
Walking in Lent 
Palm Sunday 
The Lord 's Supper 
Good Friday: Way of the Cross 
Easter's Vigil of Vigils 
Easter Joy 

I read this volume slowly over a few weeks. I read one sermon at a time. I did not stick to the outlined or original dates and feasts. I highlighted several passages in each. Here are some of those highlighted passages:

“Each year, Lent offers us a providential opportunity to deepen the meaning and value of our Christian lives, and it stimulates us to rediscover the mercy of God so that we in turn, become more merciful toward our brothers and sisters.”

“For this year’s Lenten Message, I wish to spend some time reflecting on the practice of almsgiving, which represents a specific way to assist those in need and, at the same time, an exercise in self-denial to free us from attachment to worldly goods.”
“According to the teaching of the Gospel, we are not owners but rather administrators of the goods we possess: these, then, are not to be considered as our exclusive possession, but means through which the Lord calls each one of us to act as a steward of His providence for our neighbor.”

“By drawing close to others through almsgiving, we draw close to God: it can become an instrument for authentic conversion and reconciliation with Him and our brothers.”

“He gave His entire self for us. Lent, also through the practice of almsgiving, inspires us to follow His example. In His school, we can learn to make of our lives a total gift: imitating Him, we are able to make ourselves available, not so much in giving a part of what we possess, but our very selves.”

“Let this time, then, be marked by a personal and community effort of attachment to Christ in order that we may be witnesses of His love. May Mary, Mother and faithful
Servant of the Lord, help believers to enter the “spiritual battle" of Lent, armed with prayer, fasting and the practice of almsgiving, so as to arrive at the celebration of the Easter Feasts, renewed in spirit.”

“Today, Ash Wednesday, we are taking up our Lenten journey, as we do every year, motivated by a more, intense spirit of prayer and reflection, penance and fasting.”

“Dear brothers and sisters, let us ask Our Lady, Mother of God and of the Church, to accompany us on our way through Lent, so that it may be a journey of true conversion. May we let ourselves be led by her, and inwardly renewed we will arrive at the celebration of the great mystery of Christ’s Pasch, the supreme revelation of God’s merciful love.”

“We can thus affirm that precisely because the Lenten Season is an invitation to prayer, penance and fasting, it affords a providential opportunity to enliven and strengthen our hope.”

“Therefore, let us begin Lent in spiritual union with Mary who “advanced in her pilgrimage of faith” following her Son (cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 58) and always goes before the disciples on the journey towards the light of Easter. Amen!”

“We have entered Lent with fasting and the Rite of Ashes. But what does '"entering Lent'" mean? It means we enter a season of special commitment in the spiritual battle to oppose the evil present in the world, in each one of us and around us. It means looking evil in the face and being ready to fight its effects and especially its causes, even its primary cause which is Satan.”

“If we listen attentively to the Gospel, we can discern two different dimensions in the event of the washing of the feet. The cleansing that Jesus offers his disciple; is first and foremost simply his action - the gift of purity, of the “capacity for God” that is offered to them. But the gift then becomes a model, the duty to do the same for one another.”

“Holy Thursday is a day of gratitude and joy for the great gift of love to the end that the Lord has made to us. Let us pray to the Lord at this hour, so that gratitude and joy may become in us the power to love together with his love. Amen.”

“At this hour, let us thank the Lord, because through the power of his word and of the holy Sacraments, he points us in the right direction and draws our heart upwards. Let us pray to him in these words: Yes, Lord, make us Easter people, men and women of light, filled with the fire of your love. Amen.”

“It is important to reaffirm this fundamental truth of our faith whose historical veracity is amply documented even if today, as in the past, there are many who in various ways cast doubt on it or even deny it. The enfeeblement of faith in the Resurrection of Jesus results in weakening the witness of believers.”

“Especially in this Octave of Easter the liturgy invites us to meet the Risen One personally and to recognize his life-giving action in the events of history and in our daily lives.”

“How important and, unfortunately, insufficiently understood is the gift of Reconciliation which sets hearts at rest! Christ's peace is only spread through the renewed hearts of reconciled men and women who have made themselves servants of justice, ready to spread peace in the world with the force of the truth alone, without descending to compromise with the world's mental ty because the world cannot give Christ's peace: this is how the Church can be the leaven of that reconciliation which comes from God. She can only be so if she remains docile to the Spirit and bears witness to the Gospel, only if he carries the Cross like Jesus and with Jesus. The saints of every epoch witness precisely to this!”

Like several other volumes I have read by Pope Benedict XVI, this book is infused with his deep personal faith, his mastery of theological concepts, and his great wisdom. The homilies are accessible, and enriching. They can be engaged with and enjoyed by any Catholic, and I would go so far as to say any Christian would benefit from these words. 

This is another excellent little volume. It is always inspiring to read the words of Benedict XVI to see his faith infused in his teachings, his love for God and his desire for our growth. It is a great read and I highly recommend it.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2023 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books by Benedict XVI:
Spiritual Masters Medieval Fathers and Writers

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