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God is Near Us: The Eucharist, The Heart of Life [Paperback]

Joseph Ratzinger
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Ignatius Press; 1st Edition edition (Sep 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0898709628
  • ISBN-13: 978-0898709629
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13.4 x 1.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 324,673 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"By the power of the Holy Spirit He was born of the Virgin Mary, and became Man" Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
69 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Paschal mystery 4 May 2005
By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Cardinal Ratzinger, the new Pope Benedict XVI, is a man whose devotion and spirituality is definitively focused upon the Eucharist. In this text, 'Gott ist uns nah: Euchariste: Mitte des Lebens', Ratzinger provides a series of essays reflecting on the importance, the mystery, and the spiritual aspects of the Eucharistic feast.
'God is with us and God is among us' is the title of the first essay, and sets the tone for Ratzinger's devotion in this regard. God in Jesus Christ took on human form to become for us a way and a light, and this same presence is available to us, not just on Sunday mornings and other times when we are in church, but throughout all our lives, according to Ratzinger. Church must mean more than simply that which happens in lofty and grand buildings a short while on a weekly basis - just as the Eucharist provides an Incarnational way for us to be in relationship with God, so too must we strive for ways to connecting our church life (ethically, spiritually, and practically) in our daily life and work.
Ratzinger shows his education and breadth of knowledge on these theological matters by drawing on sermons and essays he's written in the past, as well as reflections on biblical texts, from the Torah to the Epistles to the Acts of the Apostles as lead inspirations, and further into the heart of the gospel itself, reflected through the Paschal mystery.
Like his predecessor Pope John Paul II, Ratzinger also has a significant strand of Marian devotion - again, his first essay draws upon the incarnation as Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary. 'She has an indisputable place in our belief in the living and acting God.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
By Aquinas
Format:Paperback
CS Lewis said that one should read a classic 20 or 30 times. Now, whilst this book is not a classic it is nonetheless excellent and what I discovered after reading it again recently after a 4 year gap was that I had forgotten most of it. So, it seems to me to emphasise the importance of retaining and re-reading good books.
Anyway, this book is made of a number of lectures and homilies given by Joseph Ratzinger on the Eucharist. Like all books of this nature, it does not have the kind of organic unity one finds in a purpose written book. Inevitably that means one finds some sections better than others. I found the chapter entitled: "The presence of the Lord in the Sacrament" to be particularly valuable and I found the chapter "standing before the Lord- walking with the Lord - kneeling with the Lord" very moving.

Those who are familiar with Ratzinger's work including his work as Pope Benedict XVI will notice common themes. For example the chapter "My joy is to be in thy presence" on eschatology anticipates some of the themes which appear in Benedict XVI's excellent encyclical "Spe Salvi". There seems also to be some development of the thought in his book on Eschatology.

But, most of all one finds in this book as in all Ratzinger books is that lovely combination of heart and mind. Ratzinger is more like the medieval theologian who believes that his first call is to be a saint.

But let me relay why I thought this is valuable book.

The Eucharist and death

In the Chapter "The wellspring of life", Ratzinger brings to our attention the connection between the Eucharist and death:

"The Eucharist is far more than just a meal. It has cost a death to provide it and the majesty of death is present in it...
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0 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars follow up 21 Oct 2011
By lisa
Format:Paperback
I am happy with the service provided. They followed up my previous review and made sure
that I was satisfy with their service. Much appreciated. Reliable seller. Thanks!:D
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1 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mysterious Ritual 6 July 2010
By L. Davidson VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In this book, the current Pope expounds upon the nature of and the importance of the Eucharist ,which he believes is the heart of Christian life. He sees it as a mysterious phenomenon whereby Jesus is transformed into bread and wine , which ,once consumed by the communicant, unites that person with Christ. I bought the book seeking more enlightenment about this ritual having participated in the Eucharist myself for several months. Something mysterious and profound does indeed take place during Communion ; I get a feeling of peace , cleansing and oneness and the sense that something supernatural has taken place. It is the main reason why I bother going to church. This book provided me with a little more information about the phenomenon, although there is a lot of waffle in it to be honest. I guess what happens in the Eucharist is a bit of a mystery really ; does Jesus really transform himself into bread and wine , or is there some other supernatural force at work here ? I would like to believe that it is the former , but having just read the Old Testament from cover to cover and having found precious little in it prophesying the coming of Christ , I'm beginning to have some doubts.
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  21 reviews
61 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspired and Insightful 9 Jun 2005
By Arthem - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I was unprepared for the breadth and beauty of Cardinal Ratzinger's sermons (homilies?) and essays concerning the Eucharist. This book wonderfully summarizes Catholic teaching and tradition, particularly by tackling modernist and traditionalist approaches to the sacrament.

The first article, "God with Us and God among Us" serves as a nice introduction to the other "chapters" in this collection, meditating upon one line in the profession of faith, and speaking directly to the Incarnation.

"God's Yes and His Love..." approaches the issue of the sacrifice Jesus made, and how it relates to the sacrificial character of the Mass. Cardinal Ratzinger addresses Christ's self-abasement for our salvation, and contrasts this against our false humility, self-limitation in freely offered grace, and suffering as a characteristic of the Church.

"The Wellspring of Life..." explores the exegetic similarities between the opening of Christ's side at His crucifixion and the removal of flesh from Adam's side in Genesis. Along the way, Cardinal Ratzinger explores the unity of the Church, and the atemporal communion encapsulated in the Eucharist, and again touches upon the issues of sacrifice.

In "Banquet of the Reconciled", the polar extremes in the discourse on liturgical evolution are examined, quite calmly and reasonably. Cardinal Ratzinger utilizes I Corinthians as the basis for a reasoned response to those who want to reduce the Mass to a simple meal of friendship and community, as well as to those who see any alteration of the form of the Mass as heretical and invalid. Along the way, he makes excellent points concerning the proper reception of communion (in the hand or on the tongue, kneeling or standing), the use of the vernacular and the origins of the Eucharistic prayers, and preparation of one's heart for receiving the sacrament.

"The Presence of the Lord..." deals with transubstantiation, the Real Presence, the resurrection of the body, and the importance of Eucharistic Adoration. Similar themes are explored in "The Immediacy of the Presence of the Lord", and later in "Standing before the Lord"

"The Lod is Near Us" is remarkable for insights into our relationship with the Law, in such writing as "The law became a burden the moment it was no longer being lived out from within but was broken down into a series of obligations external in their origin and their nature."

A series of shorter articles follows, but the book is concluded by two profound chapters: "The Church Subsists as Liturgy..." treats the importance of the Eucharist and the liturgy to the very lives of man, arguing that life's meaning can only be found by seeking to live in God's community. The Cardinal emphasizes the modern mentality that subconsciously rejects the efficacy of faith and prayer, really believing only in our own power to affect our lives.

The final chapter "My Joy is to Be in Thy Presence" is a worhty capstone to this remarkable book, addressing our modern disdain for the very concepts of immortal life with God. The themes sounded in this article can be heard clearly in Pope Benedict's inaugural homily and the broad vision he is expounding for his papacy. I can only related the beauty of Cardinal Ratzinger's vision in quotes from this work: "Eternal life steadily withdraws from a person whose attention is fixed on himself," "the idea of eternity appears to us like being condemned to boredom," "The struggle to keep evil under control, within limits, has to be taken up a new by each generation and can never be removed by the institutional arrangements of an earlier generation," "We should finally bid farewell to the notion of working to build the ideal society of the future as being a myth and should instead work with total commitment to strengthen those factors that hold evil at bay in the present..." "man is that creature in which spirit and material meet together and are united as a single whole"...

Through the course of these articles, Cardinal Ratzinger touches upon dualism, utilitarianism, the Reformation, unitarianism, the meaning of life, transubstantiation, heaven, hell, purgatory, utopian rational secularism, the communion of saints, grace, salvation, the person of Christ, Christ as God's Word, as Logos, etc., etc., etc. For a brief, small book, its scope and impact are immeasurable.
58 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Paschal mystery 20 April 2005
By FrKurt Messick - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Cardinal Ratzinger, the new Pope Benedict XVI, is a man whose devotion and spirituality is definitively focused upon the Eucharist. In this text, 'Gott ist uns nah: Euchariste: Mitte des Lebens', Ratzinger provides a series of essays reflecting on the importance, the mystery, and the spiritual aspects of the Eucharistic feast.

'God is with us and God is among us' is the title of the first essay, and sets the tone for Ratzinger's devotion in this regard. God in Jesus Christ took on human form to become for us a way and a light, and this same presence is available to us, not just on Sunday mornings and other times when we are in church, but throughout all our lives, according to Ratzinger. Church must mean more than simply that which happens in lofty and grand buildings a short while on a weekly basis - just as the Eucharist provides an Incarnational way for us to be in relationship with God, so too must we strive for ways to connecting our church life (ethically, spiritually, and practically) in our daily life and work.

Ratzinger shows his education and breadth of knowledge on these theological matters by drawing on sermons and essays he's written in the past, as well as reflections on biblical texts, from the Torah to the Epistles to the Acts of the Apostles as lead inspirations, and further into the heart of the gospel itself, reflected through the Paschal mystery.

Like his predecessor Pope John Paul II, Ratzinger also has a significant strand of Marian devotion - again, his first essay draws upon the incarnation as Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary. 'She has an indisputable place in our belief in the living and acting God.'

The Incarnation required acceptance, first from Mary, and continues to require acceptance by those who attend mass regularly, and those who strive to live their lives in conformity with the creeds. Creedal history is a principle guideline in Ratzinger's development in much of his theology here - a very traditional theologian in method, he nonetheless can be surprising in the breadth of his interpretations.

This is a good book from which to glean insight into the heart of theology of the Eucharist, the central rite of the church, of the new pope, Benedict XVI.
66 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sparkling and Moving 4 Jun 2004
By Oswald Sobrino - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Cardinal Ratzinger never fails to satisfy the reader hungry for insight and depth. In this small book, which is a collection of past homilies and addresses on the Eucharist, Ratzinger discusses the Eucharist from many perspectives. For Catholics, the Eucharist is the "heart of life," as the book's subtitle states. So to deepen knowledge of the Eucharist is life-changing. For Protestants, there is no better way to see the Catholic difference, a Catholic difference shared with the Eastern Orthodox.
You can see the Catholic difference in this excerpt: "The church is not just a space in which something sometimes happens early in the morning, while for the rest of the day it stands empty, 'unused'. There is always the 'Church' in the church building, because the Lord is always giving himself, because the eucharistic mystery remains present . . . ." (p. 89). This excerpt is from the address entitled "The Presence of the Lord in the Sacrament," which, in my view, is the most compelling of all the addresses in the book.
37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clarity of a Brilliant Mind 28 May 2005
By Mark D. Merlino - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"God is Near Us - The Eucharist the Heart of Life" is a collection of numerous homilies given by Pope Benedict XVI when he was Archbishop of Freising and Munich. The separate entries contained within this remarkable book address various questions, problems and issues related to the origin, meaning and practice of the Eucharist in the life of Christians. The issues covered include, the birth of Christ, Easter, the Mass, Eucharistic adoration, the feast of Corpus Christi, communion, the liturgy, and eternal life.

The understanding and insight demonstrated by this book is truly remarkable. With casual ease, Pope Benedict explains the Biblical and historical contexts and origins of Christian practices and doctrines. Beyond this, this book aims to identify and answer the most pressing contemporary concerns that people have about the Eucharist, the liturgy, God and the idea of an afterlife. Pope Benedict is not afraid to address very difficult religious and theological questions. But, as the Pope says in his own words (p.149-150) this book is intended to teach the faith and encourage reflection on one's personal faith, rather than be a scholarly treatment of the subjects.

If you interested in a highly readable book on Catholic beliefs, written by a respected and learned author, then this book is for you. As well, if you are curious to know why Joseph Ratzinger was chosen to be Pope, read this book and learn how capable he is. All in all, one of the best books I have read.
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Heart is in good hands 16 Aug 2005
By quasiperfect - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
For those among the faithful, this book has no equal. Don't just read it. Reread it. But not just once. The good Cardinal has a way of clarity in matters for which I once thought there were no words. Each page is captivating. Each page brings more light.

For those unconvinced, read it once. You might be surprised.
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