I picked Benedict of Bavaria for my latest Catholic Company review book because I had a feeling I should. I didn’t want to. I’ve developed this gut-reaction to all things Pope-Book, thinking that surely it will be a major effort, I’d rather be reading an American Girls mystery . . . you know the fear. But I reasoned that a little work would be good for me, so I took the plunge.
I love being wrong.
This was a fun and interesting read, and not difficult at all. Very enjoyable way to learn more about the Holy Father.
What it is: The book tells the story of Pope Benedict’s life from his birth in Germany through about 2007. The focus is on his German heritage — the villages he lived in, life during World War II and conflict within the Church over how to respond to the Nazi regime, and his career as a theologian and cleric in postwar-Germany. His family life, including the role of his sister Maria in supporting him throughout his life, is a steady theme.
In all it’s a fascinating look at the personal life, career, and heritage of the man who now leads the Church. An appendix detailing “A Day in the Life of the Holy Father” is particularly interesting in light of the Vatican-Leaks scandal this summer.
Included are excerpts from and analysis of his writings over the years, showing his development as a scholar, and providing inspiration and encouragement to the reader. The author writes from a Catholic, faithful-to-the-Church point of view, but without glossing over or excusing problems in the Church.
Reading Level: I’d recommend this for adults who have some basic background knowledge of the Catholic faith, and of recent history. The writing is clear and easy to follow for those who read on a true high-school or early-college reading level, but you do need to be the kind of reader who knows words like “Jesuit” “postmodernism” “celebrant” “ora et labora” and so forth. A map of Germany is handy to have on hand as well — Google Earth would work fine — because there are so many German place-names mentioned.
Excellent choice for someone who knows the faith, but doesn’t know much about the life of the Holy Father. Also recommended for young men discerning a vocation to the priesthood — great glimpse into the kinds of different challenges our clergy face, from seminary on up through the ranks of the hierarchy.
Summary: Very nicely done. This one’s a keeper. Deserves to be better known and more widely read.
I’m grateful once again to The Catholic Company for letting me participate in their reviewer program, in which bloggers like myself get great books for free, in exchange for an honest review — though they seem to mostly stock good stuff, so that makes my job a whole lot easier.
They remind me to remind you that The Catholic Company is also a great online store for all your Catholic gift needs, such as baby baptism and christening gifts. You can also find a wide selection of Catholic Bible Studies for both parish groups and individuals, as well as a variety of other Catholic Bible study resources.