The god of Mammon, who is “like a wild animal, trying to clutch me with his talons and enslave me,” and people not open to the Holy Spirit, who “are like swamps that give off foul-smelling gases,” are just a few of the analogies that appear in the latest collection of papal homilies. Rigid doctors of the law “imagine God as a kind of really strict school teacher who assigned humanity homework that only very few are able to do. For the majority, the notebook of life will be handed back with the grade: ‘Poor!’” If it sounds like the usual fare from Pope Francis, it is strongly similar, but the author in this case was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI. Never-before published, the 10 homilies are informal, colorful, off-the-cuff reflections that seek to make the mystery, relevance, and force of the faith clear and inspirational to everyday Catholics in a small Bavarian parish. The 100-page book — currently available only in Italian — is titled, “The Homilies of Pentling,” the German village where the cardinal vacationed and kept a home he had hoped to retire to one day. “Apart from a few small corrections, I kept the familiar style of the text just as it flowed out back then,” the retired pope wrote in the book’s preface. He said he hoped the homilies, taken from transcribed audio recordings between 1986 and 1999, would help not just “my fellow citizens of Pentling,” but all readers in “understanding and living the word of the Gospel.” While Pope Francis consistently crafts clever, memorable metaphors in his writings and talks, many people don’t remember that Pope Benedict was quite good at it, too.
Read on, and sample more of the homilies, here.