Of the six homilies delivered by Benedict XVI during the Holy Week ceremonies this year, only two had wide reverberations and reached the ears of millions of people.Read more
The first was the one read at the end of the Via Crucis on Holy Friday, and the other is the "Urbi et Orbi" message of Easter Sunday. Both of these were broadcast live on radio and television, in many countries around the world.
But not the other four. They reached few – only the few thousands of the faithful who were present at the ceremonies celebrated by the pope, and who understood the Italian language (many of them were foreigners). To these should be added the few people who read the pope's words in the Catholic media during the following days.
If one considers that Catholics in the world number well over one billion, the number of those who heard or read the pope's homilies last Holy Week appears even more microscopic.
And yet these homilies are among the most revealing characteristics of Joseph Ratzinger's pontificate. They are a culmination of the magisterium of this pope, theologian and pastor.
They are unmistakably written by the pope himself. And they are inseparably connected to the liturgical celebration in which they were pronounced. In their genre, they are masterpieces.
The comparison that comes most naturally is with the homilies of the Fathers of the Church, for example, those of Leo the Great – the first pope whose liturgical preaching was preserved –, of Saint Ambrose, of Saint Augustine.
It is an illuminating comparison under the aspect of communication as well. Because even the homilies of a Leo the Great, at the time, were heard by few and read by fewer. The same can be said of Saint Augustine. But the influence that the preaching of these Fathers had upon the Church was equally great, and was produced over the span of centuries.
It is not impossible that something similar could happen with the homilies of Benedict XVI. All that is necessary is that there be, in the Church, persons who recognize the originality and depth of the liturgical preaching of this pope. And who work to expand its audience.
Benedict XVI's book about Jesus, his encyclicals, his great addresses on faith and reason and have all made news. For some time, interest has also been kindled in his Wednesday audiences, dedicated first to the Apostles and now to the Fathers of the Church.
But so far the same kind of attention has been lacking for his homilies. And yet it is enough to read those for Holy Week of this year – reproduced below – to understand how central these are in the magisterium of pope Benedict.
It is astonishing that the communications machine of the Holy See has so far neglected them. "L'Osservatore Romano" publishes them quickly, but for a readership that is too restricted, since the newspaper still does not make adequate use of the internet. The Libreria Editrice Vaticana has not yet published any books compiling the homilies of Benedict XVI, either in their entirety or according to the various liturgical periods, for example the Christmas homilies, or those of Easter, which would ideally be accompanied by the scriptural passages of the liturgies of which they were part.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Hidden Homilies of Pope Benedict
~from Chiesa....about the continuing failure of the world's media to give a forum for the Pope's homilies.