Benedict modeled a life dedicated to Christ and the Church in loving service.
I first met Joseph Ratzinger when I was 15 years old. No, not in person, but I was given The Ratzinger Report by my pastor, Father Daniel Mahoney. He knew I was looking for answers. I had already devoured the Bible, the Catechism and several books on Church history, and I was learning more about the Byzantine and Tridentine liturgies. I was confused about what I saw in the Church, and how it didn’t line up with what I was learning. Father Mahoney thought Ratzinger could help sort it out. He was right.
Even as a teenager, Ratzinger gave me assurance with his liturgical vision and rootedness in doctrine. As The Ratzinger Report related, the Church was going through a crisis following the Second Vatican Council, and despite the attempt by many to break with the past, we could still remain faithful to the traditions guarded faithfully through the centuries.
He noted that “the results that followed the Council seem cruelly opposed to the expectations of all. … What the Popes and the Council Fathers were expecting was a new Catholic unity, and instead one has encountered a division which — to use the words of Paul VI — seems to have passed over from self-criticism to self-destruction.” Ratzinger inspired me to be part of the fight to preserve the Church’s true identity.
As I pursued graduate studies in theology, I gravitated immediately toward St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, but I was also looking for a more contemporary model. At this point I hadn’t read any of Ratzinger’s theology and my advisor, Dr. Don Briel, pointed me again to him. Just as Ratzinger helped me to situate the life of the Church, now he helped me, especially through Introduction to Christianity, to navigate theology — looking to Scripture and the Fathers, speaking from this tradition to contemporary concerns, and rooting my work clearly in the faith of the Church.
Ratzinger is the gift that keeps on giving, though by the time I got my first job, he had become Pope Benedict XVI. I was hired by the Augustine Institute to teach catechesis and, though I was a director of religious education at a couple of parishes, I had not gotten deep into catechetical theory. Ratzinger once again emerged as the clearest voice, introducing and explaining the Catechismand calling catechesis to a renewal of faith. He recognized, in a famous speech that was published as Handing on the Faith in an Age of Disbelief, that catechesis had become anthropocentric — more concerned about human experience than a transforming encounter with God in faith. His work with Pope St. John Paul II to provide the Church with new doctrinal clarity through the Catechism served as turning point for the renewal of catechesis.
READ ON BELOW…Benedict XVI Was a ‘Cooperator of the Truth’ and a Truly Great Man| National Catholic Register