Friday, November 27, 2009

The homilies of Pope Benedict XVI

~via Chiesa. Guess what I want for Christmas? Yes, you can access the homilies via the Holy See's website. But having a portable hard copy to stick in my back pack is just right!
ROME, November 27, 2009 – On the eve of Advent, a book has been released in Italy that collects the homilies by Benedict XVI in the liturgical year that just ended.

Each liturgical year runs from Advent to Advent. It is a grand sacramental narration that, from Mass to Mass, has this distinctive feature: it brings to fulfillment what it says. The protagonist of the narrative, Jesus, is not simply remembered, but is present and acts. The homilies are the key to understanding his presence and his actions. They say who he is and what he is doing today, "according to the Scriptures."

This, at least, is what is learned by listening to pope Joseph Ratzinger, an extraordinary homilist.

The homilies have become a distinguishing feature of the pontificate of Benedict XVI. They may be the least known and understood feature, but they are certainly the most revealing. He writes many of them himself, and improvises them at times; they are the most genuine manifestation of his mind.

He is dedicating himself to them to a great and growing extent. In the liturgical year just before the last one – also published in a volume one year ago by the same publisher – there were twenty-six homilies; in this new collection, there are forty.

And to these must be added the "little homilies" on the readings of the Mass of the day that the pope delivers on Sundays at the noon Angelus, all of them unmistakably his own creation, also reproduced in an appendix to this volume.

To facilitate the reading, each homily in the volume is followed by the texts of the biblical readings of the respective Mass. Benedict XVI, in fact, systematically refers to these texts. Not only that. When necessary, the reader will also find the other liturgical texts commented on by the pope in the homily: from the "Magnificat" of vespers to the "Te Deum" of the end of the year, from the "Victimae Pascali Laudes" of Easter to the "Veni Sancte Spiritus" of Pentecost.

Last Holy Thursday, pope Ratzinger made a long commentary on the canon – the central prayer of the Mass – that is read on that day in the liturgy of the Roman rite. And the reader will also find this canon transcribed in the book, both in Latin and in the vernacular.

The papal homilies are arranged according to the chronology of the liturgical year, Sunday by Sunday, feast by feast, from Advent to Christmas, to Lent, to Easter, to Pentecost and beyond. But under each title it is specified where and how the rite was celebrated: for example, in the Sistine Chapel, baptizing a few children, or in Jerusalem, in Bethlehem, in Cameroon, in Angola.

In each homily, in fact, Benedict XVI "situates" his preaching, applying it to the community to which he is speaking, or taking from the context a lesson for all.

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