To Get To Know My Pope (Viva il Papa!)

First a confession. A confession perhaps someone who writes for a Catholic blog shouldn’t make. But truth be told, until I read Light of the World, A Conversation with Peter Seewald, I didn’t “get” our Pope.

I missed Pope John Paul II terribly, as if he were my father. I didn’t understand Benedict. And though six years passed by since he took office, I really hadn’t given him a chance.

So when a friend recommended I read this book, I thought to myself, “perhaps I can see what this man is all about.”

The book is a series of interviews by veteran journalist Peter Seewald about every imaginable topic: the state of our natural world, the clergy abuse scandal, and how this man feels about being Pope. If you, like me, had some preconceptions about the pontiff, if you considered him well, clueless about public relations and severe in his approach to life, if you missed the warm media-savvy charm of JP, please read this book.

Suspend whatever impressions of the man you might have picked up from the secular media, from other Catholics (liberal or traditional), from anyone or anything that might have led you to think one way or another about this man. Open your heart and your mind and listen. As you enjoy this Easter day, read the little excerpt here and watch the short book trailer below. Then, buy (or go to the library and check out) this book and let il Papa’s words of warmth and wisdom find a place in your heart and soothe your soul. Here is an example of what awaits you,

Seewald asks “What about the Pope? Does he still believe what he believed as a child?”

Pope Benedict XVI answers:

“I would answer in similar terms. I would say: Simplicity is truth—and truth is simple. Our problem is that we no longer see the forest for the trees; that for all our knowledge, we have lost the path to wisdom. This is also the idea behind Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince, which shows how the cleverness of our age causes us, ironically, to overlook the essential, while the Little Prince, who hasn’t the faintest idea about all this cleverness, ultimately sees more and better.

“What really counts? What is authentic? What keeps us going? The key thing is to see what is simple. Why shouldn’t God be capable of letting a virgin give birth, too? Why shouldn’t Christ be able to rise from the dead? Of course, when I myself determine what is allowed to exist and what isn’t, when I define the boundaries of possibility, and no one else, then of course phenomena like these have to be excluded. It is an act of intellectual arrogance for us to declare that they are internally contradictory or absurd and, for that reason alone, impossible. 

But it is not our business to decide how many possibilities are latent in the cosmos, how many possibilities are hidden above and in it. The message of Christ and the Church puts credible knowledge about God within our reach. God wanted to enter into this world. God didn’t want us to have only a distant inkling of him through physics and mathematics. He wanted to show himself to us. And so he was able to do what the Gospels recount that he did, just as he was also able to create a new dimension of existence in the Resurrection. He was able to go beyond what Teilhard de Chardin called the biosphere and the noosphere and to institute precisely a new sphere, in which man and the world attain union with God.”

You are going to want to read the rest.

  • Sue

    Do you know who wrote the quote on the card thingy – "You are the flower…."? Thanks.

  • Allison

    @Sue: Sure yes. Didn't mean to be opaque. That is a line from "The Little Prince," the book that the Pope references. The book is a classic, especially for those of us who studied French in high school. Worth a read. It is a children's book, but so much more…

  • Sue

    Thanks:-). I don't know if you were opaque or I was obtuse:-). EIther way, reading soon.

  • Allison

    You will enjoy both books Sue. Let us know!

  • ThereseRita

    5 yrs ago a group of us started meeting one night a month to read B16 together. We've covered alot of ground & grown in our knowledge & respect for this humble man. Right now our group is reading Seewald's book. We've had a few new people join us just specifically bc they were curious about this book given the pre-publication run-up re: the great condom controversy etc! At any rate, Allison, why not start a B16 group in your parish/diocese? It's easy & not a big commitment if it's just night a month & a great way to get acquainted with the Pope :-)

  • Allison

    Therese Rita: Your group sounds like a great idea. My friends in my School of Community all are reading the book this month and last and it is good to share with them. I like the idea of a monthly diocesan book read! Like "One Diocese One Book" as cities do….