In the latest episode of The Josias Podcast we reflect with gratitude on the life, death, and writings of Pope Benedict XVI. Urban Hannon and I also recount going to his funeral in Rome.
I also take the opportunity to read from my favorite book of Ratzinger’s, a small volume based on a retreat that he preached to priests of the Communion and Liberation Movement, entitled The Yes of Jesus Christ: Spiritual Exercises in Faith, Hope, and Love. It is one of Ratzinger’s most Thomistic books, being inspired in part by his re-reading of Josef Pieper’s trilogy on the theological virtues. The part on hope is particularly brilliant, anticipating some of the key points of by favorite of his encyclicals: Spe Salvi, but expressed with even greater simplicity and directness. The initial chapter on faith is also very good.
Here is the quote that I read on the Podcast:
[What] seems to be important is that the greatness of soul of the human vocation reaches beyond the individual aspect of human existence and cannot be squashed back into the merely private sphere. A society that turns what is specifically human into something purely private and defines itself in terms of a complete secularity (which moreover inevitably becomes a pseudo-religion and a new all-embracing system that enslaves people)—this kind of society will of its nature be sorrowful, a place of despair: it rests on a diminution of human dignity. A society whose public order is consistently determined by agnosticism is not a society that has become free but a society that has despaired, marked by the sorrow of man who is fleeing from God and in contradiction with himself. A Church that did not have the courage to underline the public status of its image of man would no longer be the salt of the earth, the light of the world, the city set on a hill.