Monday, May 14, 2012

Benedict of Bavaria: An Intimate Portrait of the Pope and His Homeland @CatholicCompany #Catholic

Benedict of Bavaria

Benedict of Bavaria: An Intimate Portrait of the Pope and His Homeland
  • 240 page Hardcover Volume
  • Written by Brennan Pursell
  • Published by Circle Press (March, 2008)
  • English Language
  • Suggested Retail Price $24.95
  • Available for Purchase Through The Catholic Company

I was a Catholic teen during the 1980's, so Blessed Pope John Paul II was a rock star to me.  I was so sad when he died, and I was determined to be petulant about his successor. Of course I honored his authority, and I prayed for him, but I didn't get to know him.

As time went by, I had no choice but to read the teachings and hear the words of Pope Benedict XVI.  I was surprised by his soft spoken voice, impressed by his vast knowledge, and humbled by the beauty of his words.

Today I not only enjoy reading the Holy Father's teachings and biographies, but I actively seek them out.  Recently, I had the chance to read Benedict of Bavaria: an Intimate Portrait of the Pope and His Homeland.  I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Brennan Pursell does a wonderful job of introducing readers to Joseph Ratzinger, the man who would become Pope - and he does so in a way that I haven't read before.  This book describes the Bavarian culture that shaped the Holy Father's life, his relationships with his family and explains how his upbringing has always intertwined with his years of service.

Do not skip the introduction to the book, written by Mr. Pursell.  It is a beautiful story of conversion, which would seem almost accidental - except for how beautifully every moment fell into place.  It also helps to put a voice to the narrator who is about to tell what he knows about a most interesting man.

While historical and factual, this work is also warm and personal.  That's no easy feat.  We learn about the youth, education, early vocation, and early professorate years, then the elevations to episcopate, Cardinal and finally Pope - but it isn't dry or boring.  Instead, I found an understanding of Pope Benedict’s warm and genuine personality and a greater understanding of his vision of the Catholic Church.

The early chapters describe the places where the young Joseph Ratzinger lived and how he was raised.  We see his deep faith.  Rumors are dispelled, and a clear picture of the young man is painted.

The middle pages are an exploration into the early years in seminary, and priesthood, his acclaimed writings and elevations to Bishop and Cardinal.  He definitely made a name for himself, and it was no surprise that he was called to Rome.

Three more chapters detail his life in Rome.  He continued to write, and excel.  Eventually, Cardinal Ratzinger became the Dean of the College Cardinals.  In April, 2005 just about a week after he presided of the Requiem Mass of Blessed John Paul II, it took that very college about 24 hours to decide upon him as the new Holy Father.  It was a position he never wanted, which made him all the more suited for it.

Written in 2008, the book only covers the early years of the Papacy - but the final pages are worth reading.  The chronicle the highlights of the first three years that this Bishop of Rome sat in Saint Peter's Chair.

Concluding with pages titled Hope for the Future, the author provides his insight regarding the 2007 Encyclical, and it is interesting to read now that we have taken a few steps into that future.  There is also an appendix - A Day in the Life of the Holy Father and there is a center insert of color photographs.

I think this book is a perfect choice for anyone who would like to know the Pope in a more personal way.  This truly shows his human side - something we often forget when we consider our clergy.  I was happy to read it, and can easily recommend it.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Benedict of Bavaria. They are also a great source for a baptism gifts or first communion gifts.  The book was sent to me in exchange for my review, I was not paid to write this post, and my opinions are genuine.