Pope Benedict XVI: November 2008 Archives

Benedict XVI Vespers.jpg

The Book I've Been Waiting For

Heartfelt thanks to Sandro Magister and to translator Matthew Sherry for this brilliant presentation of Homilies. The Liturgical Year Narrated by Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI.

The book, to be presented in Rome this evening by Camilli Cardinal Ruini and Italian Minister of Culture Sandro Bondi, assembles the Holy Father''s preaching at Masses and Vespers, over the course of the year. Magister calls it "required reading for understanding this pontificate."

The Holy Father as Preacher

His liturgical preaching is one of the high points of Benedict XVI's pontificate. It's also the least examined and familiar. There's been news and noise over his lecture in Regensburg, his book about Jesus, his encyclical on hope, but much less, extremely little, about the preaching that he addresses to the faithful at the Masses that he celebrates in public.

Liturgical Preaching in the Patristic Tradition

And yet, without the homilies, the magisterium of this pope theologian would be incomprehensible. Just as without these, it would be impossible to understand a St. Leo the Great, the first pontiff whose liturgical preaching has been preserved to our day, a St. Ambrose, a St. Augustine, all of those great pastors and theologians, pillars of the Church, whom Joseph Ratzinger has as instructors.

More than anything else, the homilies are the most genuine thing that issues from the mind of Pope Benedict. He writes them almost start to finish by himself, and sometimes improvises them. But above all, he stamps upon them the unmistakable character that distinguishes his homilies from any other part of his magisterium: the fact that they are part of liturgical action, and are even a liturgy unto themselves.

Liturgist of Jesus Christ for the Nations

Benedict XVI said it clearly in the homily that he delivered on June 29, 2008, on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul: his vocation is to "to serve as liturgist of Jesus Christ for the nations." The striking expression is from Paul, in chapter 15 of the Letter to the Romans. And the pope has made it his own. He has identified his mission as successor of the Apostles precisely in being the celebrant of a "cosmic liturgy." Because "when the world in all its parts has become a liturgy of God, when, in its reality, it has become adoration, then it will have reached its goal and will be safe and sound."

About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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