Tag Archives: Joseph Ratzinger

The Annunciation of the Lord


Annunciation FAlbani.jpgThe mystery of the annunciation to Mary is not just a
mystery of silence. It is above and beyond all that a mystery of grace. 


We
feel compelled to ask ourselves: Why did Christ really want to be born of a
virgin? It was certainly possible for him to have been born of a normal
marriage. That would not have affected his divine Sonship, which was not
dependent on his virgin birth and could equally well have been combined with
another kind of birth. There is no question here of a downgrading of marriage
or of the marriage relationship; nor is it a question of better safeguarding
the divine Sonship. Why then?


We find the answer when we open the Old Testament
and see that the mystery of Mary is prepared for at every important stage in
salvation history. It begins with Sarah, the mother of Isaac, who had been
barren, but when she was well on in years and had lost the power of giving life,
became, by the power of God, the mother of Isaac and so of the chosen people. 

The
process continues with Anna, the mother of Samuel, who was likewise barren, but
eventually gave birth; with the mother of Samson, or again with Elizabeth, the
mother of John the Baptizer. The meaning of all these events is the same: that
salvation comes, not from human beings and their powers, but solely from
God–from an act of his grace.

Joseph Ratzinger
Co-Workers of the Truth Meditations
for Every Day of the Year
(1992), 99-100.

Joseph Ratzinger’s “The pastoral approach to marriage should be founded on truth”

From a little known text by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger published in 1998

The pastoral approach to marriage should be founded on truth

Concerning some objections to the Church’s teaching on the reception of Holy Communion by divorced and remarried members of the faithful

In 1998 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, introduced the volume entitled “On the Pastoral Care of the Divorced and Remarried,” published by the Libreria in the CDF’s series (“Documenti e Studi”, 17). Because of its current interest and breadth of perspective, we reproduce below the third part along with the addition of three notes. The text was published today by L’Osservatore Romano.


The Letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of 14 September 1994 concerning the reception of Holy Communion by divorced and remarried members of the faithful was met with a very lively response across wide sections of the Church. Along with many positive reactions, more than a few critical voices were also heard. The fundamental objections against the teaching and practice of the Church are outlined below in simplified form.

Several of the more significant objections – principally, the reference to the supposedly more flexible practice of the Church Fathers which would be the inspiration for the practice of the Eastern Churches separated from Rome, as well as the allusion to the traditional principles of epicheia and of aequitas canonica – were studied in-depth by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Articles by Professors Pelland, Marcuzzi and Rodriguez Luño 2, among others, were developed in the course of this study. The main conclusions of the research, which suggest the direction of an answer to the objections, will be briefly summarized here.

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The Word of God is everything: hearing what the WORD has to say

I am reading Verbum Domini with great eagerness. I am talking my reading seriously and trying to ponder what the Pope has given us as a path to Christ and to live as an authentic Christian today. Let’s recall the extraordinary address of Pope Benedict XVI on October 6, 2008 where he said: 

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“the Word of God is the foundation of everything, it is the true reality. And to be realistic, we must rely upon this reality. We must change our idea that matter, solid things, things we can touch, are the more solid, the more certain reality. At the end of the Sermon on the Mount the Lord speaks to us about the two possible foundations for building the house of one’s life: sand and rock. The one who builds on sand builds only on visible and tangible things, on success, on career, on money. Apparently these are the true realities. But all this one day will pass away. We can see this now with the fall of large banks: this money disappears, it is nothing. And thus all things, which seem to be the true realities we can count on, are only realities of a secondary order. The one who builds his life on these realities, on matter, on success, on appearances, builds upon sand. Only the Word of God is the foundation of all reality, it is as stable as the heavens and more than the heavens, it is reality. Therefore, we must change our concept of realism. The realist is the one who recognizes the Word of God, in this apparently weak reality, as the foundation of all things. Realist is the one who builds his life on this foundation, which is permanent.”

Scott W. Hahn, Covenant and Communion (2009), p. 22.

 

In another place we read: 

You cannot put revelation in your pocket like a book you carry around with you. It is a living reality that requires a living person as the locus of its presence.

That is, the believer becomes real insofar as he becomes the Word by hearing such that he does it. That seems to be the only reality that perdures. Revelation is an act in which God shows Himself. Faith is a corresponding act of hearing and doing the Word heard. Outside of that, everything else perishes into nothingness.

J. Ratzinger, God Word: Scripture – Tradtion – Office, Ignatius (2008): 52.

Catholic Prayer: experiencing a deeper and authentic prayer life in the Blessed Trinity

Where and how do we seek communion in prayer with God? Catholics enter into communion with God through the Blessed Trinity. I purposely ask the question this way because so often I meet Catholics who have fallen into a quasi-Protestant manner of thinking and praying. They say, “My prayer is a relationship with Jesus.” They go no further. They also rarely give an indication that there are two other persons of the Blessed Trinity. Certainly, we all are to seek an intimacy with the Lord Jesus, but as Catholics our theology and its manifestation in the spiritual life through the sacred Liturgy and personal prayer is always in conversation with the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is an essential point in the spiritual life. You miss this point, you miss the point of Catholic prayer. In fact, all of our liturgical prayer, save for a few, is directed to the Father, through the Son under the power of the Holy Spirit.

Catholics ought not be functionally unitarian: prayer exclusively directed to one member of the Trinity but it ought to be trinitarian:  Father, Son AND Holy Spirit. In 1989, Cardinal Ratzinger, with his typical clarity, addressed this issue in a “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on some Aspects of Christian Meditation.” He said, in part:

St Ignatius of Loyola at Manresa.jpeg

“From the dogmatic point of view,” it is impossible to arrive at a perfect love of God if one ignores his giving of himself to us through his Incarnate Son, who was crucified and rose from the dead. In him, under the action of the Holy Spirit, we participate, through pure grace, in the interior life of God. When Jesus says, “He who has seen me has seen the Father” (Jn 14:9), he does not mean just the sight and exterior knowledge of his human figure (in the flesh is of no avail”–Jn 6:63). What he means is rather a vision made possible by the grace of faith: to see, through the manifestation of Jesus perceptible by the senses, just what he, as the Word of the Father, truly wants to reveal to us of God (“It is the Spirit that gives life […]; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life”–ibid.). This “seeing” is not a matter of a purely human abstraction (“abstractio”) from the figure in which God has revealed himself; it is rather the grasping of the divine reality in the human figure of Jesus, his eternal divine dimension in its temporal form. As St. Ignatius says in the Spiritual Exercises, we should try to capture “the infinite perfume and the infinite sweetness of the divinity” (n. 124), going forward from that finite revealed truth from which we have begun. While he raises us up, God is free to “empty” us of all that holds us back in this world, to draw us completely into the Trinitarian life of his eternal love. However, this gift can only be granted “in Christ through the Holy Spirit,” and not through our own efforts, withdrawing ourselves from his revelation (20).

I would recommend reading Cardinal Ratzinger’s full letter to the bishops; it is linked above.

Saint Bonaventure

St Bonaventure enters OFM FHerrera the elder.jpg

O God, Who did give Thy people blessed Bonaventure as a minister of eternal salvation, we beseech Thee; grant that we may deserve to have him as an intercessor in heaven, whom we had as a teacher of life on earth.

Today, the Church celebrates the feast day of Saint
Bonaventure
. Born and baptized in 1221 as John in Bagnoregio, Tuscany, he had an encounter with Saint Francis of Assisi. John was a very sick child is said to have been brought to Saint Francis who prayed over him and brought him back to health. The pious legend has it that Saint Francis exclaimed “O buona ventura.”The healing wasn’t enough for John to enter the Franciscan order. A man of considerable talent and brilliance, the desire to study led him to the University of Paris where as a layman he completed his Master of Arts by the age of 22. He was regarded as an expert and a popular lecturer in logic and rhetoric. The Franciscans indicate that he enter the fraternity in either 1238 or 1243.By 1256 Bonaventure’s university life was anxiety provoking when lay professors started violently opposing their religious counterparts. In 1257 and not yet 36 years old, Bonaventure was elected minister general of the Franciscans. He was known to keep the unity and direction for the friars at a time that the order was experiencing unrest. Both Saints Bonaventure and Thomas Aquinas were given their doctoral degrees from the University of Paris on 23 October 1257.The saint served the Church as bishop of Albano and as a cardinal.

Bonaventure died in 1274 while participating in the Council of Lyon; he was invited to the council by Pope Gregory X.

As a scholar and thinker with a sterling character, Saint Bonaventure was known to intercede for others before God and richly blessed by God leading others to say that he had escaped original sin. He left the Church a rich written legacy intellectual works and an incredible constellation of high profile students. His The Life of Saint FrancisCommentary on the Sentences of LombardCommentary on the Gospel of Saint Luke, and Itinerarium Mentis ad DeumBreviloquium are his significant works.

Bonaventure was canonized by Pope Sixtus IV and named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Sixtus V.

Saint Thomas Aquinas asked Saint Bonaventure about the source of his teaching; Bonaventure responded, “I study only the crucified one, Jesus Christ.” And so should we.

In your spare time why not read Joseph Ratzinger’s book, Theology of History in St. Bonaventure?

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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