.- Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the former Vicar for the Diocese of Rome, has published a review of Pope Benedict XVIâs new book âHomilies: The Liturgical Year Narrated by Joseph Ratzinger, Pope.â Saying the homilies âcontain a treasure, a form of sustenance, and even a medicine, which can do a great deal of good for those who wish to read them,â the cardinal endeavored to explain the distinctive theology of the Popeâs thought.
Saying the Pope has a âprofound senseâ of liturgical mystery and liturgical action, the cardinal describes his theology as being âin every respect extraordinarily equipped and âorientedâ" toward the ministry of the homily.
Cardinal Ruini quoted the Popeâs October 14 remarks to the Synod of Bishops in which the pontiff critiqued some modern biblical studies for denying âthe possibility of the entry and real presence of the divine within history.â
This failing has created confusion over homily preparation and displaces Scripture from its place as âthe soul of theology,â Cardinal Ruini said.
The brilliance of the Popeâs theological work is that it utilizes the âintimate union between exegesis and theology.â Cardinal Ruini said Pope Benedictâs preaching is both simple and substantive, âbreak(ing) the bread of the Word of God and of the mystery of our salvation in a way that is understandable to all.â
The Popeâs historical approach to theology and exegesis does not leave Scripture âclosed off in the past in which they were writtenâ but rather understands Scriptureâs present meaning through its past. In the words of each biblical author âsomething greater resounds, God who shows us his face for the sake of our salvation,â Cardinal Ruini wrote.
Pope Benedict elaborates and brings to life biblical faith âin a fertile interchange with the great problems of the time in which we are living.â His homilies show how the biblical texts can be fully and authentically understood âas an integral part of liturgical action,â through which they are made present and speak to us.
âFor this reason,â the cardinal continued, âreading and meditating on the homilies of Benedict XVI has become for many priests a valuable aid, and almost a paradigm for their personal preaching: in this regard, I myself have experienced how much listening to many of these homilies in person has helped my preaching, improving its connection to the Bible and the liturgy, and stimulating the attention and participation of those present.â
Calling the new book of homilies a âpractical aidâ and an inspirational model for every priest, the cardinal selected some of his favorite examples from the book.
He described the Popeâs homily for the chrism Mass on the morning of Holy Thursday, at which priests renew their vocational vows.
âThis homily takes us inside the nature and meaning of the priestly ministry,â the cardinal said.
Beginning with the words of Deuteronomy on the Old Testament priesthood, âto stand in your presence and serve you,â Pope Benedict says these words âindicate standing before the Lord present in the Eucharist and the center of the priest's lifeâ
The homily continues by recalling a Lenten hymn from the liturgy of the hours, based upon the words âLet us be more vigilant.â
In the cardinalâs words, the Pope explains: âthe priest must therefore be one who watches, who stands guard before the insistent demands of evil.â
The Pope then explores the meaning of serving the Lord, writing âin the celebration of the Eucharist, the priest carries out a service to God and a service to men, inserting himself within the donation Christ made of himself.â
The dimensions of this service include the âart of celebrating,â prayer learned âin the school of Christ and of the saintsâ and familiarity with the Word of God and with God Himself. This familiarity âmust not become routine, obscuring the astonishing and always novel reality that God is present, speaks to us, gives himself to us.â
âThe service of the priest therefore means obedience, the obedience of faith that makes us free in the communion of the Church and service to our brethren,â the Popeâs homily explains.
The cardinal writes that he cannot briefly communicate the âbeauty and richnessâ of the homilies contained in Pope Benedictâs book, but invites readers to find in it âthat restoration of the Spirit and of life that only Jesus Christ can give us.â
At present, âHomilies: The Liturgical Year Narrated by Joseph Ratzinger, Popeâ is available only in Italian.