Books are coming in like hail. Many on a similar theme.
Here’s what I’ve been up to today, resulting in the melting of my brain.
Today I read through
The Secret of Benedict XVI: Is He Still the Pope? by Antonio Socci.
The Italian subtitle is a little different: “He is still the Pope.” A couple people, who ought to have known better, wrote to me as if I were an idiot, to explain that sometimes publishers change the titles when they are translated into new languages. YES… I know. I read books in 5 languages and I’ve been reading them for a while now.
First, Socci describes the conditions in the world leading up to the resignation. He goes into a lot of geopolitics, which may or may not interest a lot of you. Effectively, there has always been a conflict between secular and sacred authority. In recent years the conflict of these USA with Russia manifests a certain dimension that made Benedict’s reign less and less tenable after the Cold War and the death of JP2. He comes back to that, briefly, at the end when he brings in the Third Secret of Fatima. Socci also underscores the important turning point of the amazing Regensburg Address, so misunderstood by so many outside and inside the Church. Anyway, there would be reasons to doubt the validity of the conclave that elected Francis because of the clear machinations of certain Cardinals pushing for a more secularized Church. However, the main point Socci argues is essentially the case Archbp. Gänswein famously made in a speech during a book presentation. Namely, Benedict didn’t really intend to resign the papacy in its totality: just the administration of the munus, not the munus itself. Hence, there is a way in which he remains the legitimate Pope while not governing the Church. He makes also an interesting spiritual argument also, based on the way that Christ was stripped of His clothing before being crucified. Finally, Socci gets into the Third Secret and what that might mean based on his argument about Benedict still being Pope while Francis is out there poping. He has some new, or at least relatively unknown, words of Jacinta about seeing the Pope in visions.
The book is heavily laden dense footnotes often having more text than the principle text. I suppose Socci did that so that one could read the book rather continuously and to keep the volume relative slim. You decide.
Next, I’ve delved into Samuel Gregg’s new work
Reason, Faith, and the Struggle for Western Civilization
This is a history of ideas kind of book. Gregg explores what happens when faith and reason drift apart. This is issue of existential importance for “the West”, especially in light of the fact that the West itself has been the source of ideas that have caused the separation of faith from reason.
Hence, Gregg’s first chapter is entitled “The Speech That Shook The World”. It is about Pope Benedict’s famous – and aforementioned – Regensburg Address.
You also want to read about Benedict XVI’s amazing Regensburg Address with the help of James Schall.
Finally, for today, I also received a copy of
The Word Became Flesh: An Introduction to Christology (Formed in Christ Series)
This is part of a series intended as High School texts. However, given the state of things, I think this could easily be adapted also for parishes, or parish study groups.
Indeed, an “introduction to Christology” might be exactly what your parish priest needs.
I paged through this book. It is well organized and the style is pitched low but not in a condescending way. Anyone would be able to use this. Each section has some assigned reading from Scripture and the CCC. Each section has questions for both review and for discussion. This is why it could form a good resource for a parish study group, even of adults. I didn’t see anything that made me raise my eyebrow, even though some points are necessarily made a little thin, due to constraints of space and audience. A good guide of a study group could expand. For example, the reality of Hell is not downplayed in the least. The issue of mortal sin and separation from God at death and judgement is underscored. However, the why of and how sin separates us from God forever could be filled out by a good leader.
And so I circle back to the book at the top, Socci’s book about Benedict. His first chapter dealt with Arianism, the major Christological question of the early Church which caused so many problems of unity and identity. Those times can teach us about our times. One could also say that most of our problems today flow from bad Christology. Thus, a new book for younger people on Christology is welcome.