A Tribute to Benedict XVI
The back cover of this book has the words of another reviewer: “This book is an absolute treasure, a source of hope in dark times.” I strongly agree. The book’s author, Robert Cardinal Sarah, says his purpose in writing the book is to reveal the spiritual mastery that was Benedict XVI, and his intense focus. He saw God as Father, but Benedict “in his fatherly concern took to heart the missionary duty to discuss wisely, rigorously, and with an acute sense of accuracy, a question of capital importance: Who is God?”
The Catholic Church has much focus (and debate) on synods around the world. In this book’s Prologue, Cardinal Sarah writes: “Allow me to dream: Benedict WVI would certainly have loved to convoke a synod, the sole subject of which would have been: God is! … I seem to hear (those words) uttered by his gentle voice, trembling with emotion before the mystery, his voice entirely in love with the reality being contemplated.” And then he quotes Joseph Ratzinger: “God is --- and this also means that all of us are his creatures ... whom he has willed and destined for eternity. ... Man owes his origin to God’s creative love.” And then Cardinal Sarah concludes his Prologue with these words:
“Here the beautiful soul of Joseph Ratzinger is revealed. He has been seized by the love of God and has let himself be seized. This “God is” encapsulates the whole theological and, I dare say, mystical experience of Benedict XVI. He experienced to the vey depths of his being God’s love for him, God’s goodness, God’s mercy.”
This book is largely a display, with Cardinal Sarah’s insights, of words written or spoken by Benedict XVI, most little known or published. In them, you see the heart of a man deeply in love with God. Cardinal Sarah knew this man well, and this book conveys his love and respect.
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Cardinal Sarah is from the continent of Africa. I know and deeply respect some people living there, the continent where the faith is strong and growing. Even as “God is,” there, the people are their faith, and living it. Were I a young man now, I think I would go and visit there, and seeing the beauty of faith lived out in community, might stay.