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The Paschal mystery
on 4 May 2005
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.