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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Cardinal Ratzinger student, Father Joseph Fessio, reviewing three years of Benedict’s papacy, and previewing his trip to the U.S.

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HH: It’s a special program, one of a couple I’m going to be running in anticipation of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the United States. Benedict was elected Pope on April 19th, 2005, and much has happened in the succeeding three years. To discuss what has happened in those three years, and what to expect when he visits the United States, we’re joined by Father Joseph Fessio, SJ. If you’ve listened to this program in the past, Father Fessio has often been here, and we really appreciate it. He received his doctorate in theology in 1975 from the University of Regensburg. His thesis director was none other than the then-Joseph Ratzinger. He is now, of course, Pope Benedict XVI. Father Fessio is the founder and the editor of Ignatius Press. He’s the publisher of the Catholic World Report, and is the co-founder of the Adoremus Society, and he’s a theologian in residence at Ave Maria University. Father Fessio, welcome back, it’s great to have you here.

JF: Hugh, I’m happy to be here, but I’m cautious, because you always get me in trouble.

HH: No, I love the fact that that’s the case, but we’re going to try and just stick to the nines today. How’s that (laughing)?

JF: Well but of course, this is being taped, presumably so we can’t have any call-ins, because that’s where I get in trouble, when I answer those questions. But anyway…

HH: That’s right. We’re not going to…

JF: Let’s do the best we can.

HH: All right. I want to start by asking you generally, have the first three years of Benedict’s papacy lived up to, or disappointed the expectations of Joseph Fessio?

JF: Well, you know, it’s pretty hard for him to disappoint me, because he is who he is. He’s a wonderful man of the Church, and I am delighted. He moves carefully, he moves slowly, but he has a direction, and he has a plan. And he’s just fulfilling it step by step. I’m very, very happy with this Holy Father. I think it’s one of the great gifts of the Church.

HH: And when did you last see him? Last summer?

JF: Yes, he meets with his former students every September in Castel Gandolfo.

HH: And will you be doing that again this September?

JF: God willing, we will. It’s planned, yeah.

HH: Now would you briefly tell our audience what the highlights of the past three years have been for Benedict XVI? What have been his major statements, and the major developments in the Vatican during his tenure?

JF: Okay, well brief in the Hugh Hewitt terminology probably would be about 25 minutes, right?

HH: Yup, you take your time. Take your time.

JF: Hugh, I’m telling people now to go back and reread his address which he gave the morning after he was elected. He was elected in the evening of the 19th. The morning of the 20th, after Mass, he gave a 22 minute address in Latin, outlining what he planned to do as pope. And it was typical Joseph Ratzinger. I mean, it was carefully worded, it was very well organized. He laid out his plan, and he’s been following that, step by step. Let me summarize it for you. I mean, the very first thing he said was Jesus is first. I must be faithful to Jesus, my master. Typical Ratzinger, typical Christian, or maybe not too typical, but we Christians should be.

HH: Yeah, we wish it were typical.

JF: Yeah. And then he said, and I’m asking for the prayer and support of my fellow cardinals, and my fellow bishops. He clearly wants to work not as some autonomous dictator or monarch. He wants to work collegially with a college of bishops, with the other pastors. And then he said, and we bring with us into the new millennium the Gospel, so again, down to the foundation, the Gospel, as reread authoritatively by the Second Vatican Council. And then, and I think in a blockbuster statement, he says, and I commit myself and my full force to implement the Second Vatican Council in faithful continuity with the Church’s 2,000 year tradition. Now he’s always got a twinkle in his eye. There’s implication there that the Council hasn’t been implemented yet, or at least not entirely.

HH: Right.

JF: So in December of the same year, December 22nd, he talked with the cardinals in Rome, and he said look, there’s been two ways of interpreting the Council. One, an interpretation of rupture and discontinuity, one, renewal and continuity. He rejects that first interpretation. So he is someone who wants to, within the Catholic Church, heal the breach, the rupture that took place, phenomenologically, between the pre and post-conciliar periods. Then, the key thing, Hugh, is that this is just, you know, method, basically. He talks about, with the bishops, he talks about using the Council. But what’s he going to focus on? He said the center of my pontificate will be the center of the life of the Church, which is the whole Eucharist, the sacrifice of the Mass. From that, everything else will flow. From that, we will have our love for each other, our charitable works, our union with other Christians and our desire for unity, our dialogue with the rest of the world and other religions. It all flows from that center, which is the Mass. So that’s what he said he’d do, and he’s done it.

HH: How has he gone about making the Mass the center again, or keeping it anchored as the center? What changes has he brought to light, or emphasis has he put forward?

JF: Well, first, in August of the year he was elected in 2005, he went to the World Youth Day, in which the theme was the Eucharist. Of course, that was planned before he was pope, but he was part of the planning. And he gave two major speeches, one on the Mass itself as the worship of God and our nourishment, and two, on adoration of blessed sacrament as our way of honoring the Lord’s real presence among us. In October, they had the worldwide synod of bishops, the theme was the Eucharist. And after that, he issed his post-synodal exhortation, Sacramentum Caritatis, the sacrament of charity. It was a masterpiece. I’m telling you, it was a glorious masterpiece on what the Mass means in its relationship to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and the other sacraments. But then, I think, Hugh, the most significant thing he’s done in his papacy was on 7/7/07, July 7th, 2007. He issued his Motu Proprio, which means by his own initiative, in which he basically made the accessibility to the old Mass much easier, and made it really a right for all the faithful and any priest who want to celebrate it. But it wasn’t just because he wants to go back to the pre-conciliar past. He wants to establish that as a standard for continuity with tradition, so that the new Mass will become more like the old Mass. And at the same time, the old Mass will become more like the new Mass.

HH: Now Father Fessio, let’s stop for a moment…

JF: Sure…

HH: …and assume that we’ve got some people out there who are just basically illiterate in Catholic idiom and ideas. And so when…you dropped two big things on them, but they both start with the Mass.

JF: Okay.

HH: When you say how the Mass is at the center of how we understand Father, Son and Holy Ghost, what do you mean by that, for the benefit of someone who’s scratching their head and saying what are these guys talking about.

JF: Okay, well, you know, we all as Christians believe that Jesus is the son of the Father, who’s taken flesh to offer Himself for our sins and redeem us from our sins. We as Catholics believe that He also instituted a Church, and at the heart of that Church was His desire to be with us in a personal way, both through sacred Scripture, by which He truly speaks to us, and by giving us His body and His blood to eat as our food and drink. And so whereas non-Catholic Christians will emphasize more the Word, and sometimes are a good challenge to Catholics to remember that God’s Word is living, and a two-edged sword that we have to be close to it at all times. But we also believe He’s present to us in another way, through the sacrament of the Eucharist, in which we confess His real presence.

HH: So what happened at the Vatican II Council to the Mass that he is now, in his Motu Proprio, attempting to reconcile?

JF: Oh, boy, that’s hard to give a short answer, but I’ll do my best at it, okay?

HH: Sure.

JF: The Catholic worship in the Eucharist has grown over the centuries. And it’s grown gradually and organically. There’s been changes of a minor nature, but basically, the way we celebrated Mass was the same from around the 5th Century until the 20th Century. At the Vatican Council, there were some legitimate attempts to renew and revivify the Mass. But because of the circumstances of the Council, because of the world we live in, because of the press and the media, it became seen as a call to new creativity and a rupture from the past. So it was, the language was changed into English, although the Council did not require that. The altar was, I mean, the priest now faced the people instead of facing with the people toward the risen Lord. The Gregorian Chant was almost entirely forgotten. The traditional prayer we call the canon, or the Eucharistic Prayer of the Mass now became optional, and there were several other forms, that we got rid of altar rails, we got rid of statues. Basically, it was a way of making the Mass more a community celebration rather than a worship of the living God. So that, he has tried to restore what’s been lost.

HH: Successfully? We’ve got about a minute to our break.

JF: Well, because he is so good and so gracious, he’s not simply said we’re going to go back to the old Mass. He’s saying those who want the new Mass, you may have it. It’ll be the ordinary form. Those who want the old Mass, we’ll now make that more easy for you to attend. And I want the two forms of the one rite to mutually enrich each other. So he’s trying to achieve what he called an interior reconciliation, and after the break, I’ll tell you what I mean by that.

– – – –

HH: Now the question, Father Fessio, is you went to break saying the Pope is attempting in his first three years to achieve an interior reconciliation between old Mass and new Mass people. And you were going to explain what that meant.

JF: Yes, I will, and you know something, Hugh, I’m always so full of trepidation here, because you know, I like you, as so many people do. I like your show, but I’m afraid you keep asking these really Catholic questions, and we’re going to lose all your listeners.

HH: No, no, I don’t think so. I think they’re fascinated by who Benedict is in history.

JF: Well, let’s check the mail after this, Hugh.

HH: All right.

JF: I suspect it’s going to be pretty negative, but anyway, you asked a question, I’m going to give you the answer as Christian brothers here. He is a man of reconciliation in many ways. And we have in the Catholic Church a polarization of people who really want the new Mass, and make it even more radical, and those who lament the loss of the old Mass. So he’s reconciling them both by saying look, you can both have it, because they’re both the same rite. They’re just two forms of it. So we’re going to reconcile you. We want you to get along. But there’s a deeper meaning to it. He wants to see the Mass, as it’s celebrated now in 2008, be seen to be in genuine continuity with the Mass celebrated through the centuries. And so he wants to be reconciling not just two groups in the Church today. He wants to reconcile the Church of the past with the Church of the present, and overcome the rupture that took place after the Council. And I think this document is a way of doing it without harming anybody, without criticizing anybody, without condemning anybody, by just making it possible now for the two forms to have a beneficial effect on each other.

HH: Which form will he celebrate in the United States, Father Fessio?

JF: Probably the ordinary form, you know, the Mass we call the Novus Ordo, the new order of Mass, which was according to the Missal of 1969.

HH: And do you expect, has he done much in terms of healing the rift with the Lefebverites, and the Society of Pius X people?

JF: Well, this has also done that, Hugh, because that was one of their main concerns, was the loss of the sense of the sacred in the Mass, the lost tradition. And now, he’s basically told them look, you can have this Mass, it’s never been abolished, and you’re perfectly free to celebrate it.

HH: Now I’ve got a couple more areas I want to go through with you on what he’s done and what you expect from him. But one more question on this, have they accepted his invitation? Are you, are those who were deeply estranged from the Church, or some would say in schism, are they coming back in?

JF: You know, I really don’t know the answer to that. I think some are, but they have other problems as well. But this will certainly be a big step. And you know something? I mean, all the Holy Father can do is be as generous as possible, and offer what is reasonable and intelligible. And if they don’t accept it, they don’t accept it. It’s just like, you know, John 6, when Jesus says eat My flesh or drink My book, and they walked away. And then Jesus turned to the apostles, and He said are you guys going to walk away, too? I mean, I just told someone recently that I think the Pope will have the same effect here that Jesus had in Palestine. I mean, some people will hear what he has to say, and respond to it, and others will harden their hearts and turn against it.

HH: All right, next question, how’s his health?

JF: You know, Hugh, I’m not his doctor, and I’m not a doctor myself, but I’ve never seen him in better health. I mean, he seems like he’s just grown into this papacy, and into this task, and he’s almost more lively and more energetic.

HH: All right, next question, what do you expect him to try and accomplish in this trip to the United States?

JF: Oh, Hugh, you know, you’re one of the best, but you’re still a journalist, aren’t you?

HH: (laughing)

JF: You guys are supposed to write about what happened.

HH: (laughing) I like predictions, too.

JF: Are you a prophet? I’m not a prophet, you know, but he’s…because he’s so well read and well versed in things, and so rich, you can always expect new things from him. At the same time, there’s certain themes which are going to be constant. And I’m sure that he’s going to commend the American people for our religious fervor, because I think, you know, Hugh, our country is amazing. It’s fantastic with our religious devotion and commitment. With all the evils we’ve got here, compared to other places, we’re not doing too badly. He’s going to commend us for that. But at the same time, we have a role in the world of leadership, and what are we doing? We are anti-life and anti-family and anti-marriage. So I believe he’s going to reiterate the Church’s teaching, natural law, God’s Word, that marriage is a man and a woman forever, just the two of them, and that life begins at conception, and ends at natural death.

HH: And of course, that will be perceived as controversial when in fact, it will be…

JF: Well, of course it will be.

HH: It will be completely consistent with everything he’s ever said. This next subject is the American Catholic Church, and then I’m going to broaden it out. Is he going to be spending time with the bishops and the cardinals and the leadership of the American Church in sort of what’s going on here talks? Or is that not appropriate to this visit?

JF: Well, I mean, he doesn’t have much time here. He’s got the United Nations, a big thing, and then he’s going to talk to the American university presidents, and I’m sure he’ll talk to the bishops and cardinals, which he does individually and in small groups in Rome. But he’s not someone who’s going to say I have come here to reform and restore and rectify all the evils. He’s coming as a successor of Peter, as a pastor, as a shepherd, and he’s going to be a good shepherd.

HH: Generally speaking, personnel, he’s made some appointments to the College of Cardinals. I think he’s had two sets of cardinals, hasn’t he, Father Fessio, or is it just one?

JF: You know, you probably know better than I do, Hugh, but you’re…probably. I’ll agree with you.

HH: Are they quote, to use mainstream media terms, conservative? Or are they representative of the broader Church’s many points of view?

JF: I would say both (laughing)

HH: Expound on that for us a little bit.

JF: (laughing) Well, I mean, I think that the people he’s appointed to be cardinals, and also the ones he’s appointed as bishops in this country, are men of the Church who generally think as he does. But of course, people are different, and you know, they come from different cultures and different backgrounds, and so you’re going to get a variety there.

HH: Internationally, are you surprised by any of this appointments, as his secretary of state, for example, or as the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faithful, which he held for so many…

JF: No, that’s…I mean, I wouldn’t say the two are surprising. I mean, they were people that he knew, and he relies on people, and gets to know them well, and wants to help get them along at his side to help him.

HH: Is it a period of great theological upheaval in the Church? I’m going to come to the war and Islam after this, but just generally speaking, since he’s been there for three years, has this been a period of watching and waiting among the intellectuals? Or are they already throwing darts at the old ways, and trying to bring in new ways?

JF: You know, Hugh, actually, I don’t know. I’m not aware of any firefights going on. It’s pretty hard to get into heated polemic with this Pope, because he’s so rational, so reasonable and so gracious.

HH: Have you read E.J. Dionne’s new book, Souled Out?

JF: I have not, sorry.

HH: I’ve been talking to E.J. once a week for eight weeks, because he really takes off after Ratzinger as the killer of liberation theology, and I just don’t know how accurate…

JF: Well, it deserved to die. I think we should honor him for that.

HH: I agree. I agree completely. But that’s what I’m wondering, the legacy of his battles. Has it just been put aside for the period of time?

JF: No, I mean, I think that it died of its own weight in a certain sense. But you know, he didn’t kill it by outlawing it or by calling in the Marines or something. I mean, he simply gave reasons why it was not consistent with Catholic teaching, and with the teaching of God in the Scripture.

– – – –

HH: Father Fessio, on Easter vigil Saturday night, the Pope baptized an until then Muslim journalist, and the world started yelling again. Give us some context for that ceremony, and any significance you think it was supposed to have for the world at large, or not.

JF: Well, the context is the Pope has this little quirk about him that he believes that Jesus Christ is the son of God, the Savior of all mankind, and that everyone should have the freedom to come to Jesus and accept Him as the Savior. And therefore, on Easter Vigil, which is traditionally the time in which converts are brought into the Church, and children baptized, the Pope baptized a wide variety of people, including a Muslim. That’s the context.

HH: Obviously, I defended that on the air as being exactly what one expects a pope to do. But the response has been he needs to be more circumspect. We’re a world at war, there’s this clash of civilizations out there, and he ought not to be needlessly provocative. Your response, Father Fessio?

JF: I don’t think it’s needlessly provocative. I think why should we foreshorten the arm of God and the message of God, to try and please political sensibilities of the press or any other pressure group? I mean, I think it’s very, very important for the world to realize that the Catholic Church, and Christians in general, permit those who adhere to us, to change their faith. I mean, there are Christians who become Muslims, and Catholics who become Muslims. And we’re not putting, we’re not protesting or burning people in effigy. We think they’re wrong, and we’ll argue with them. But they made a choice, and they’ve got the freedom to make that choice. It goes both ways, though.

HH: It does. One of the hallmarks of many of this statements has been a call for religious freedom in countries which are not now free.

JF: Exactly.

HH: And many of them in the Middle East. Any theme to this? Are you surprised by this direction of his public speeches?

JF: I mean, Hugh, one of the beautiful things about this Holy Father, and I think about the Catholic Church’s moral teaching, is it’s common sense, isn’t it? I mean, we believe in freedom of conscience. We believe also that we’re all called to submit to Jesus. Talk about Islam, submission, I mean, we’re going to submit. We’re going to submit to the son of God, who’s come to die for us and given His blood for us. And everybody’s free to accept or reject that. We pray for those who reject it, but…and in our country, we have the blessing of that kind of freedom. And that is one of the benefits, despite the fact that I’m not a real fan of the enlightenment, that’s one of the benefits of the enlightenment, is a heightened sense of the dignity of the human person and religious freedom. And it is simply contrary to the dignity…reason, that we have this coercion in a religion on the part of Islam. And don’t say it’s not coercion. Of course it’s coercion. I mean, you can’t bring a Bible into Saudi Arabia. You can’t build a Church there.

HH: Does it advance the cause of religious toleration in places not currently tolerant to have moves like the baptism of the formerly Muslim journalist at the Easter Vigil? Or does it hinder it?

JF: Well, I don’t think anybody can answer that question. Therefore, what you do is what’s right, you know, and leave the consequences in the hands of God. I mean, why should we be ashamed or afraid of publicizing a man who has decided to turn to Jesus Christ and accept Him as his Savior and baptize him?

HH: Do you think that the Pope is the focus of a great deal of rage within the Islamic radical world, the jihadists?

JF: Well, I hope he is. I mean, if they’re going to get angry at that, let him be the focus.

HH: Do you think it bothers him at all?

JF: I know this. He does not want to be the cause of harm to anyone. So if a nun gets shot in the back in Somalia, I’m sure that affects him deeply. But the point is, he’s not speaking in his own name. It’s not Joseph Ratzinger’s view of the world. He is totally committed to Jesus Christ and the truth of Christ. And therefore, he stands firm and serene, and is un-buffeted by the winds of opinion that go around him.

HH: Have you read George Weigel’s new book, the War Against Jihadism?

JF: I have, yeah.

HH: I thought it was wonderful in its clarity about this, that these are first principle debates, and faith matters a great deal, and don’t ask people not to believe what their faith is. And clearly, he doesn’t give a rip about what people think about what he says, although he is concerned about how it’s perceived.

JF: I think George is excellent. He’s very good on this. But the point is hey, I expect Muslims to try and proselytize me, or try and convert me. I would think they didn’t respect me if they didn’t do that. But they’ve got to accept the fact that I’m going to do the same to them.

– – – –

HH: A couple more quick ones, I’ve noticed, and many people have written, that he has de-emphasized Mary from where John Paul II had put Mary in the course of his pontificate. Fair or not fair, Father Fessio?

JF: That’s probably fair. I mean, it could be expressed in different ways, but I think that’s fair. And I think that it’s probably theologically based. He certainly has a respect for Mary, as Jesus Himself said as His mother, and He’s supposed to honor His mother. And so we honor her, too. But he’s a man of proportion, and I think that he, you know, I think John Paul II was extraordinary as a pope, and I’m very happy to have had him for so long. But I honestly think that Pope Benedict has a greater breadth and a greater simplicity about him.

HH: Is it part of an effort to advance, if not reunion within various division of the Church, the ecumenical opportunities out there, since Mary presents to so many such a difficult issue?

JF: I think, that’s probably consciously, but certainly unconsciously. Remember, he comes from Germany, where there’s a division between the Catolich and Evangelich, you know, the Catholics and the Lutherans, and a great desire for more ecumenical unity. And so he’s very sensitive to that, and wants to try and present the fullness of the Catholic faith without exaggeration. And he’s also a man who is really in love with the early Church, and the fathers, especially. And we did have a great unity, I mean, despite all the heresies that were being fought, and so on, but there was a great unity among Christians for the first five or six centuries, and produced some of the great minds and great spiritual men and women of the Church, the fathers. There were no women fathers, I suppose, but there were some great women back there. So that, to me, is not unusual, that the proportions of his presentation of the faith would be more in harmony with the proportions of the early Church.

HH: Now let’s turn to the question of Islam. Regensburg was such a huge deal, and he’s obviously thought through this a lot. Was it rightly understood what he said? Has it been since he said it? And have you seen him elaborate on it more since he said it?

JF: (laughing) Well, Hugh, I mean, you have to ask the people who understood it or didn’t whether it was rightly understood or not. I can’t tell you that. But I can tell you it was rightly phrased, and rightly expressed. And certainly, you know, he was an equal opportunity critic. I mean, it was both the West and the East. He said look, I mean, trust in the West, we’ve got to recognize that reason can’t be limited to merely empirical, quantitative scientific things, but it’s got to be open to the Transcendent, to God. And if we don’t realize that, then we are closing ourselves off from any dialogue with other cultures who accept the Transcendent, okay? That’s a criticism for the West. And that was the main part of his talk, actually.

HH: Yup.

JF: And it was beautiful. But then he said Islam, you know, some of your theologians hold that God is above reason, and therefore, the irrational can be justified, such as coercion in religion. And this is wrong. If you can’t accept reason as a characteristic of God, and a basis for discussion, then we can’t have dialogue with you. I mean, I think the two key moments, in my opinion, in this papacy have been what I’ll call od intra, within, for the Church herself, the Motu Proprio on the Mass, in July ’07, and od extra, to the world outside the Church, his talk at Regensburg.

HH: Given the importance that you attach to it, and I agree with that, and a lot of people agree with that, has it been widely or even appropriately understood? Is it necessary to keep revisiting what he said? And do you expect him to do so on this trip?

JF: Well, probably the Islam connection will not be a major part of this trip, because that, I think it is a world critical problem, but it’s more so in Europe than in the United States. So I wouldn’t expect that to be given as much emphasis as he might in other contexts. But certainly, the role of reason, especially at the United Nations, I mean, here comes the successor of St. Peter, the head of the Roman Catholic Church worldwide, is going to speak to a body which is a political body. Now the last thing he wants to do is to give them directions on how to do politics, you know, and what kind of measures they should take. But one thing the Catholic Church has, which I think is a great blessing, is that while we accept fully God’s Word in sacred Scripture, we also recognize the gift of reason, and what we call the natural law, the ability of man through his reason, to come to truths, which are consistent and in harmony with revelation in Scripture. So he can talk to the world leaders at the United Nations on moral principles that are accessible to every man and woman through their intellect. And that gives him, I think, an opportunity to speak on some critical issues of justice, especially family life and marriage.

HH: Father Fessio, obviously you may or may not know specific details, but give the audience of some sense of how long you think he’s been working on this UN speech.

JF: (laughing) Hugh, I have no idea, except that when I see what he’s been able to do in a very short time, and the way he gives homilies, I mean, he probably could do this with no preparation at all.

HH: Wow.

JF: But I mean, how much time he spent, we don’t know. Another thing, when you hear him give talks, he’s not just speculating or giving his opinions. He very often, in fact, almost always, is quoting documents or authors or whatever. So you know, I mean, he’s a man of the intellect, a man of the intellectual life. And so there’s a lot of long term preparation. In this, I’m sure some short term as well.

HH: Have you seen any, in your understanding of Church history, has there ever been this sort of an intellectual as pope that jumps to mind?

JF: Oh, Hugh, you keep pointing out my areas of ignorance. Of course, they’re so vast and so numerous, it is hard to miss them. And I’m not really a student of Church history, and we’ve had some great popes that were intellectuals, like Gregory the Great, and Leo the Great, to name two. And I think Leo XIII in the 19th Century was as well. But it’s hard for me to imagine any pope that could be more theologically and culturally wise than this Pope.

– – – –

HH: I want to thank Father Joseph Fessio, theologian in residence at Ave Maria University for spending an hour with us to get us sort of thinking about how to get ready for the Pope’s visit, and what he’s going to say. You’ve known him for 35 years, Father Fessio, the Pope. How does he go about his daily life when it comes to prayer and personal time? Do you have an insight on that?

JF: Well, you know, we didn’t live in the same building. But that question was actually asked of him by one of the young seminarians that was at this Casa Balthazar in Rome which a few of us founded with Cardinal Ratzinger, and he’d meet with us every year, and we’d have dinner, and after dinner, a little recreation. And these young men would be very open about asking him questions. So they would say Cardinal, when did you start to pray, how did you learn to pray, how do you pray, you know? And we sat back, wondering how he was going to answer that, and typical Cardinal Ratzinger, you know, very gracious and with a friendly smile on his face, he basically said that his first prayer was the Mass, in the liturgy. He loved that, and there’s a book in Germany called the Schott Messbuch, the Mass book by Schott, and it has the prayers of the Mass, it’s got other prayers, it’s got Scripture in there, it’s got hymns. And he was fascinated by it. And he’s a man of symbolism, as you can hear, when he gives his speeches, you can see that always. But as I think I mentioned before, he was born on April 16, 1927. That happened to be Holy Saturday, and he was born at 4:15 in the morning. And in those days, they had the Easter Vigil kind of early, at 8:00 in the morning. So he was brought from where he was born, I’m not sure if it was at home or in the hospital, four hours later to be baptized, right at the heart of the Pascal Mystery, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday. So he has always drawn his inspiration and his nourishment from the liturgy, the Word and the sacrament.


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