- On October 6, 2005, Pope Benedict honored the centenary of the birth of Hans urs Von Balthasar, the Swiss ‘ressourcement’ theologian and good friend of the Holy Father, with whom he co-founded the Communio International Catholic Review in the wake of Vatican II:
. . . [Balthasar] had made the mystery of the Incarnation the preferential object of his studies, and he saw in the Mysterium Paschale–as one of his works in significantly entitled–the most expressive form of this descent of God into human history. Indeed, in the death and resurrection of Jesus, the mystery of God’s Trinitarian love is revealed in its fullness. The reality of the faith finds here its unsurpassable beauty. In the drama of the Paschal Mystery, God fully lives out his act of becoming man, but at the same time he makes man’s action meaningful and gives concrete form to the engagement of the Christian in the world. Von Balthasar saw in this the logic of revelation. God becomes man so that man might experience communion of life with God. In Christ is offered the ultimate truth, the definitive answer to the question that everyone asks himself about the meaning of life. Theological aesthetics, dramatics and logic make up the trilogy in which these concepts find ample room [for development] and principled application. I can testify that his life was a genuine search for truth, which he understood as a search for the true Life. He looked everywhere for signs of the presence of God and of his truth: in philosophy, in literature, in religions, always managing to break through the circuitous reasoning that often holds the mind a prisoner of itself, and opening it up to the horizons of the infinite. . . .
For further information on this great theologian, see:
– Hans Urs von Balthasar: Author Page from Ignatius Press, the chief english publisher of von Balthasar’s works.
– Hans Urs von Balthasar: An Online Archive Collected online articles and resources on Balthasar.
– Ressourcement: Restoration in Catholic Theology, a blog by Justin Nickelsen featuring in-depth coverage and discussion of the ressourcement theologians. (See also David Jones’ Nouvelle Theologie for similar links).
– Love Alone is Believable: Hans Urs von Balthasar’s Apologetics, by Fr. John R. Cihak @ Ignatius Insight.
- On October 16, 2005, Pope Benedict granted an interview with Polish State Television, conducted by Fr. Andrzej Majewski, head of Catholic programming at TVP. EWTN News has the English translation. Pope Benedict discussed his friendship with John Paul II (“I liked him from the beginning . . . Above all, when I watched him pray, I saw and understood, that he was a man of God”), his appointment to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (“with great frankness and he was very paternal towards me. He gave me time to reflect and said he also wanted to reflect. Finally he convinced me that this was the will of God”) and the most significant moments in the pontificate of his predecessor.
- Pope Benedict canonized the first 5 saintsof his pontificate at the close of the Synod on the Eucharist on October 23. Here is the closing homily of the Holy Father.
- Ratzinger’s Revolution Passes with Flying Colors, says Sandro Magister (www.chiesa Oct. 20, 2005), on the compelling witness of Pope Benedict’s devotion to the Eucharist:
Few had believed it when, during his first trip outside Rome, to Bari at the end of May, pope Joseph Ratzinger re-proposed the motto of the martyrs of ancient Rome: “Sine dominico non possumus”; we cannot live without the Mass on the Lord’s day.
And yet it was the Eucharist that distinguished the first Christians right from the beginning in the pagans’ eyes. The Eucharist was the reason they faced martyrdom. For saint Benedict and pope Gregory the Great, celebrating the liturgy and building up civilization were all of a piece. The greatest event for the Church in the last century, Vatican Council II, left its most visible and lasting (and controversial) mark in the liturgy. As it was in the past, so also now the Mass is the measure of Catholic identity, as it has been since Jesus said the words “ Do this in memory of me” at the last supper. In the worldwide panorama of the Church which has been explored over the three weeks of the synod, from October 2-23, the most flourishing areas of Christianity have been shown to be those where faith in and celebration of the Eucharist are strongest, sometimes flourishing in the face of death.
Benedict XVI is doing nothing other than taking seriously – very, very seriously – this foundational reality of Christian life.
Magister goes on to applaud the “doubling of numbers” of those attending B16’s Wednesday audience and the Sunday Angelus in St. Peter’s Square (also reported by Catholic News Service); the humble nature of his presence (“Benedict XVI doesn’t practice any showmanship, he doesn’t stress any flashy phrases, doesn’t encourage applause or acclamation . . . he arrives only to celebrate the liturgy and preach”) and speculations on papal appointments to the Vatican curia.
- Pope Benedict’s speeches at Cologne/World Youth Day have been collected and published in a book titled God’s Revolution, with an introduction by Cardinal Ruini. “The Italian edition hit bookstores in Italy Oct. 11, while the English edition published by Ignatius Press was expected to be ready for release in the United States and Canada by the end of October.” (Catholic News Service).
- Pope Shares Memories of His First Communion Zenit. October 10, 2005. Responding to an invitation of Pope Benedict XVI’s predecessor, thousands of children receiving their first communion met with the Holy Father in Rome for a meeting entitled “Bread of Heaven”:
The highlight of the day was their conversation with Benedict XVI who responded to seven of the children, seated close to him, who asked him questions about the Eucharist.
One of the girls, Andrea, asked the Holy Father about his first Communion.
It was “a beautiful Sunday in March 1935,” he said, “69 years ago.”
“It was a sunny day, the church was very beautiful, there was music,” said the Pontiff with a broad smile. “I promised the Lord, in the measure possible: ‘I want to be always with you’ and I said to him: ‘But you must always be with me.'”
Another of the first communicants, Livia, asked him why she should go to confession before going to Communion when she always commits the same sins. The Pope laughed when he heard the question.
“It’s true, in general our sins are always the same, but we clean our house, our room, at least every week, although the dirt is always the same,” he said.
Confession is necessary “only in the case of grave sin,” he explained. “But it is very useful to go to confession regularly to cultivate cleanliness and beauty of soul, and to mature little by little in life.”
To Giulia, who asked what she should do if her parents do not go to Mass on Sunday, he responded that she should speak to them “with great love, with great respect.”
“Tell them,” he said, “‘Dear mommy, dear daddy, do you know that there is something very important for all of us, and even for you? We will meet with Jesus.'”
The full text of Pope Benedict’s catechesis to children can be found here.
- Dialogue Not Monologue: Benedict XVI & Religious Pluralism, by Francis X. Clooney. Commonweal Volume CXXXII, Number 18. Fr. Clooney takes along as reading material on his trip to India several of B16’s books and encounters an opportunity for reflection:
Near the end of my visit to India, I was perhaps providentially visited by some concerned Hindus who accused me-Catholic priest, Jesuit, aficionado of interreligious dialogue, and provocatively named “Francis Xavier”-of being the “pope’s man,” come to fulfill his plan to subvert and convert the subcontinent. Pondering my reading, their questions, and my Jesuit credentials, I had to ask myself, what would it mean to be sent as a missionary to India by the pope responsible for these writings? What follows is not so much a summation of Benedict’s writings as a practical reflection written with Hindu concerns in mind too. . . .
- Christendom College of Front Royal, VA commissioned a portraint of Pope Benedict XVI, painted by Tim Langenderfer, a Dayton-based portrait artist. The oil painting was unveiled by Christendom College on Sept. 4th:
. . . the College was pleased to welcome Mary Popp, from the Society for the Preservation of Roman Catholic Heritage (SPORCH), who, along with College President Dr. Timothy O’Donnell, unveiled the portrait for those present.
The students responded with great enthusiasm by immediately chanting “Benedetto…Benedetto,” led by the group of seniors who spent last semester studying in Rome during the election of Benedict XVI.
Popp gave a short talk explaining the artist and her organization. Langenderfer, the artist, received his BFA from Ohio University in 1984, said Popp, and has been a Professor of Art at the University of Dayton for 13 years. . . .
According to Popp, SPORCH, founded in 1993, has the distinct purpose of rescuing endangered Catholic sacred art and artifacts, and providing needed ecclesiastical items to poor parishes and priests. SPORCH also seeks to educate Catholics about the historical and spiritual significance of these items in an effort to preserve Catholic tradition.
A reproduction of the portrait was delivered to the Vatican by Dr. Tim O’Donnell. The original remains on display at the school, while prints and reproductions may be purchased in various sizes through the website of The Society for the Preservation of Roman Catholic Heritage.