God and the World: A Conversation with Peter Seewald Paperback – 1 Aug 2002
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Profound insights for modern man about the deeper meaning of faith and the spiritual life. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, well-respected Vatican prelate and head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Fait. The meeting of the Churchman, theologian and author with the seasoned journalist who has returned to the Church, provides wide-ranging questions and answers on contemporary issues relating to God and the world. The Cardinal responds with candour and deep insight he is sometimes surprising and always thought-provoking
About the Author
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger) is widely recognized as one of the most brilliant theologians and spiritual leaders of our age. As Pope he authored the best-selling Jesus of Nazareth; and prior to his pontificate, he wrote many influential books that continue to remain important for the contemporary Church, such as Introduction to Christianity and The Spirit of the Liturgy.
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So, beside the very good questions asked Seewald - who prepared himself thorough for the occasion, or has been preparing through his life - and the tranquil answers by Ratzinger, you have a feeling of fulfilment: oh yes I could have put this question, and what a fantastic answer...
In the first section, the Prologue, Seewald continues in a vein similar to the earlier book, asking questions that are both academic and personal, discussing issues of faith, vocation, mystery and belief. Ratzinger speaks of his personal devotion and prayer practices, which include traditional forms of standard communal prayer (noontime Angelus, Vespers, Compline) as well as his own personal prayer practices, such as reciting a prayer before rising in the morning. He gives an account of how this kind of practice strengthens and reinforces itself, saying that 'the organ of sensitivity to God can atrophy to such an extent that the words of faith become quite meaningless.'
Seewald directs the questions in a format that might serve as a guide to following a systematic theology - while this is not Ratzinger's systematic theology by any means, one can see the philosophical and theological consistency even in the answers to the question-and-answer format. He speaks of God, creation, Christology, scripture, sacraments, ecclesiology, and more. These are done in creative but traditional ways - for example, the section of Christology (speaking of Jesus Christ), the conversation falls under broad headings of Revelation, The Way, The Truth, and The Light (as separate sections). He also explores issues of Mariology and the significance of the Cross.
The sections on the sacraments and the future are both firmly grounded in a sense that they need to be connected to the happenings in this world. Ratzinger looks forward to a resurgence of the spiritual in Christianity, and this perhaps taps into one of his namesakes, the St. Benedict who was an early pioneer in the development of monastic community and spirituality.
Interestingly, given Ratzinger's selection of papal name as Benedict XVI, this interview (the third in-depth interview with Seewald) was conducted at a Benedictine Abbey, the famous Abbey of Monte Cassino.
There are many books that can give good insight into the thinking of the new pope, but this book is a key text to show both his recent thinking, as well as his responses to crucial questions of concern in the current situation in the church and in the world.