Wednesday, April 19, 2006

One Year Ago Today

One year ago today I was literally bouncing off the walls as the name of the new pope was announced: Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Ratzinger has long been one of my favorite theologians. Not everyday does your favorite theologian become Supreme Pontiff -- bring on the encyclicals!

If you are not already aware of his work I recommend three books: Called to Communion, a short little book on the nature of the Church; The Spirit of the Liturgy, a biblical theological approach to the significance of liturgy; and Introduction to Christianity, his classic overview of Christian theology.

Two of the major themes of his work has been the need to do biblical theology and the importance of the Eucharistic celebration.

Another theme he has sounded again and again is the dangers of relativism. When asked a few years ago about the biggest problems facing the Church's mission to evangelize, he said the following:
I would say that today relativism predominates. It seems that whoever is not a relativist is someone who is intolerant. To think that one can understand the essential truth is already seen as something intolerant. However, in reality this exclusion of truth is a type of very grave intolerance and reduces essential things of human life to subjectivism. In this way, in essential things we no longer have a common view. Each one can and should decide as he can. So we lose the ethical foundations of our common life. Christ is totally different from all the founders of other religions, and he cannot be reduced to a Buddha, a Socrates or a Confucius. He is really the bridge between heaven and earth, the light of truth who has appeared to us.

1 comment:

Josh Peterson said...

A few years ago, when I first discovered an author by the name of Scott Hahn, I found myself buying every Hahn book I could find. A search for Dr. Hahn on at the time turned up the book Many Religions, One Covenant, which I thought was authored by Scott Hahn. When it arrived, I noticed that he only wrote the foreword. The book was actually written by a guy named Ratzinger, with the weird middle name of Cardinal. :) Little did I know who I was reading.

Anyway, I recently finished Introduction to Christianity, and it is absolutely wonderful. Don't be fooled by the word "introduction" in the title. It isn't exactly a "Christianity for Dummies" book. The depth of the Holy Father's thinking just amazes me. At the same time, he demonstrates the ability to make complex theological concepts understandable. In fact, I've resolved to not purchase any theological books not written by Ratzinger until I finish with a number of his classics. Sorry Michael, I guess that includes your titles also. :)

I think that I'll move on to The Spirity of the Liturgy and Called to Communion first. Thanks for the suggestions! Maybe the best part about his papacy is the encyclicals are free! I'm only kidding of course. :)