Thursday, January 7, 2010

Spiritual Gems From the Holy Father

Take Five - Meditations With Pope Benedict XVI, is written by Mike Aquilina and Father Kris D. Stubna, and is published by Our Sunday Visitor.

Mike Aquilina is executive vice president of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology has authored or edited many books including the best selling What Catholics Believe and is co-host of EWTN's Reason to Believe. Fr. Kris Stubna has a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, is the diocesan secretary for education for the Diocese of Pittsburgh and is author or co-author of many books including A Pocket Catechism for Kids. True to the title, this 176 page little gem contains over 70 brief, five minute meditations taken from the writings of the Holy Father.  It is available from the Catholic Company for $9.95.

In the forward Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston states, "It is a guide to enter into silence with God, and there to discover God's Holy Spirit beckoning us to meet the Lord Jesus. Amen!" (p. 10). In the introduction we discover the way in which the authors choose to bring this about. Using the rich teaching of Pope Benedict XVI we are shown in little snippets how to bring the supernatural to our ordinary everyday tasks. We read through select passages of the Holy Father's "books, sermons, letters and interviews...about the dignity of work; about getting along with co-workers; about the wise use of money and resources; and about the challenge of keeping your eye on the goal, which is not worldly success, but godly glory." (p. 12).

Each meditation starts with a quote or excerpt from one of Pope Benedict's writings or teachings. It is then followed by a section called "Think About It", where we are challenged to meditate upon and apply the teaching to our own lives.

Next we are greeted with a section called "Just Imagine". Here we are given a passage of scripture. Knowing the Holy Father's teaching flows from an experience of prayer steeped in the word of God we can "just imagine" these selections might have been the very words Pope Benedict pondered as he put his thoughts to paper.  We can use these scripture passages to enter into the scenes of the Bible for a personal experience with salvation history.

The final section is "Remember". This is a brief sentence or two to jot down and carry with us as we go about our daily activities. Read it periodically to become re-grounded...treat it as a memory verse.

Reading through the meditations, several well known documents figure prominently in this five-minute devotional. Spe Salve (Saved in Hope) is quoted in entries entitled; The Longing of the Human Heart, Offer It Up, Concern for Others and Loving God and Neighbor. Deus Caritas Est (God Is love) is quoted in entries entitled: Giving of Self, Prayer and Work, Friendship in Christ and Humility. Meditations are also taken from various documents and teachings directed toward young people. Some of which include; We Cannot Love If We Do Not Know - Address to Young people, Genoa Italy (May 18, 2008), Confirmed in the Spirit and Honor the Cross - Address to Young People, Paris (September 12, 2008), Only in God - World Youth Day Vigil, (July 19, 2008), The Happiness You Desire - Address, World Youth Day, Cologne, Germany (August 18, 2005) and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament - Message to Young Catholics of the Netherlands (November 21, 2005).

This little book also contains a brief summary of the life of Benedict XVI as well as the spirit of Pope Benedict. The authors have chosen to share with us five aspects of the Holy Father's spirituality who like us is on a "personal search for the face of the Lord" (p. 23). It will come as no surprise that these five aspects are basic to the devotional lives of Catholics who wish to attain to the holiness to which we are called. The common threads found in this book are Christ-centered - our lives depend solely on our relationship with Jesus our Triune God. Biblical - to have a relationship with Jesus we must be soaked in His word. Liturgical - we meet Jesus truly present - body, blood, soul and divinity in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Traditional  -  the early Church Fathers and the Saints are our brothers and sisters in Heaven "the great cloud of witnesses" (Hebrews 12:1) urging us on in the Faith. Marian - the Blessed Mother was the instrument by which our Father in Heaven chose to give us our Lord.

This little devotional is jam packed with spiritual nuggets from Pope Benedict, with a generous depth yet brevity to bring Jesus to the central focus of our lives during those times when all we have are a few moments for brief reflection. Take Five - Meditations With Pope Benedict XVI has found its way into an integral part of my devotional life.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book Reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Take Five - Meditations with Pope Benedict XVI.

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