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Wednesday, July 29, 2009



This book was a decisive influence on my own conversion 'process'(still ongoing!) and I look forward to re-reading it at some point in the future; Ratzinger's earnest faith grounds his erudite commentary in, what seemed/seems to me, a very genuine Christian wonderment at the inexhaustible and joyful mysteries of God and the Church.


It is indeed a great book. One of the greatest of the 20th Century.


I have been through it twice, have glimpsed most of it, still have not grasped all of it, and have retained some of it.

Perhaps that is a commentary on my own capacity to learn but I tend to think it is because of the depth of thought and understanding of the author.

His is a truly philosophical mind in the service of God.

I was also happy to see it on the bookshelf in my Bishop's office.


I challenge anyone here to post a few quotes they find so great or memorable. Having read the book twice, I remain mystified. The author seems to bend over backwards to apologize for the faith and attempt to make it semi-respectable to skeptical Europeans, countering arguments I never find Americans even considering. Of all Benedict's books, it seems in many ways the least accessible. I can't imagine any typical laymen plowing through it, or giving it to any average seeker. Is the Bible true? Is sin a trult big problem? What doe sit mean that Christ shed his blood for me and us? I couldn't find clear answers to these types of questions. Instead, it seems like an extended plea to agree that faith is at least 'credible'? But who other than Ivory Tower Germans ever thought otherwise?! Really guys, this is a case of "The Pope's New Clothes." If the author was not now pope, would this book be reprinted or read? No way. No way. And this is not pope bashing. It is, however, fanboy bashing. If you gforget who the author is, the book evaporates after reading.


First, I suggest you read the entirety of the above (and linked) 2004 preface to the Second Edition of this book. There, Ratzinger gives much context to the book's genesis and why he wrote it the way he did in addition to related developments since.

Second, to paraphrase Chesterton:

The following is an answer to a challenge. Even a bad shot is dignified when he accepts a duel.

Here is one somewhat-lengthy quoted passage to start. It is in the context of the Emmaus story. As well, you might enjoy these images which complement the words:

"[H]ere too he [Christ] remains unrecognizable to the accustomed eye. … [H]e sets the hearts of the two wanderers aflame by his interpretation of the Scriptures and by breaking bread he opens their eyes. This is a reference to the two basic elements in early Christian worship, which consisted of the liturgy of the word (the reading and expounding of Scripture) and the eucharistic breaking of bread. In this way the evangelist makes it clear that the encounter with the risen Christ lies on a quite new plane; he tries to describe the indescribable in terms of the liturgical facts. He thereby provides both a theology of the resurrection and a theology of the liturgy: one encounters the risen Christ in the word and in the sacrament; divine service is the fashion in which he becomes touchable to us and recognizable as the living Christ. And conversely, the liturgy is based on the mystery of Easter; it is to be understood as the Lord’s approach to us. In it he becomes our traveling companion, sets our dull hearts aflame and opens our sealed eyes. He still walks with us, still finds us worried and downhearted, and still has the power to make us see.

"Experience of the risen Christ is something other than a meeting with a historical man, and it must certainly not be traced back to conversations at table and recollections which would have finally crystallized in the idea that he still lived and went about his business. Such an interpretation reduces what happened to the purely human level and robs it of its specific quality. The resurrection narratives are something other and more than disguised liturgical scenes; they make visible the founding event on which all Christian liturgy rests. They testify to an approach which did not rise from the hearts of the disciples but came to them from outside, convinced them against their doubts and made them certain that the Lord had truly risen. He who lay in the grave is no longer there; he—really he himself—lives. He who had been transposed into the other world of God showed himself powerful enough to make it palpably clear that he himself stood opposite them again, that in him the power of love had really proved itself stronger than the power of death.

"The comfortable attempt to spare oneself the belief in the mystery of God’s mighty actions in this world and yet at the same time to have the satisfaction of remaining on the foundation of the biblical message leads nowhere; it measures up neither to the honesty of reason nor to the claims of faith. One cannot have both the Christian faith and 'religion within the bounds of pure reason'; a choice is unavoidable. He who believes will see more and more clearly, it is true, how rational it is to have faith in the love that has conquered death."

--Introduction to Christianity, 236-237 (New York: Herder and Herder, 1970 English edition)

Manuel G. Daugherty Razetto

Thanks to Carl for bringing up this book; I can hardly wait to go out and purchase it.
A brief comment about the new foreword; BXVI , intelligently, says that the mystic eastern religions, 'part of them' , distance themselves from institutionalism and dogma. In reality the two mentioned: Buddhism and Hinduism, consider themselves as No Religions, in their orthodox teachings.



OK ... those ARE pretty good. LOL.

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