Listers, if Catholics are to live a life of virtue then there are two primary sciences –bodies of knowledge – all Catholics should study: the “Noble Science” and the “Queen of the Sciences.” The corpus of writings from Cardinal Ratzinger is as vast and as it is impressive. An excellent survey of his writings can by found in Abram’s The 6 Books of Pope Benedict XVI Every Catholic Should Read. The list at hand takes a different approach.
A Unique Review: Why were these works chosen?
It is typical of a positive book review to go into great detail lauding the message and delivery of the particular author. For the review at hand, we take a different approach and presuppose that Cardinal Ratzinger‘s works are brimming with solid Catholic erudition and strike with a clear and orthodox Catholic tone. The purpose of the review is to step back from the works and truly understand the overall sciences in which they are written. It is to move the reader from thinking of works as well written on this or that subject, to understanding that different bodies of knowledge are not isolated from each other. In fact, the word we use for understanding the proper ordering of knowledge is wisdom. The higher bodies of knowledge – higher sciences – order the lower ones; thus, if one truly grasps the importance of a higher science and can study an excellent work on that science, it will have “trickle down” effect on all the other areas in their life. It is in this focus that we must first explain the science and then suggest a work by Cardinal Ratzinger.
Thank you for highlighting this article. Pope Benedict / Cardinal Ratzinger was truly a great theologian who has a rare combination of first-rate intellect and deep humility in Christ. The writings of Cardinal Ratzinger were deeply influential in my own spiritual journey and my love of the Catholic Church. Ratzinger was deeply rooted in tradition but he also was able to use the tradition to both identify the unique problems of the 21st century (e.g. relativism and excessive individualism) and incorporate new concepts that are faithful to tradition (e.g. identifying Teilhard de Chardin’s concept of the Noosphere with the Eucharist).
I also believe that Cardinal Ratzinger’s “Introduction to Christianity” should be mentioned as an outstanding read also, even though it was not mentioned as one of the two in the article (although it was in the Top Six that the article originally referenced).
“The totalitarian ideologies of the twentieth century promised us that they would set up a liberated, just world …”
..Surely, “a liberated, just world,” must also be the aim of Catholicism?
Pope Francis certainly seems to think so.
However, it’s my suspicion (no more than that) that Catholicism would enjoy being “totalitarian,” if it got the chance.
And whenever it has had the chance in the past – it has been.