In the Company of Augustine

Commonweal readers know how influenced Pope Benedict has been by Saint Augustine: writing one of his dissertations on Augustine's thought, quoting him in his encyclicals, recently devoting a series of Wednesday catecheses to the life and works of the great Saint.What has long been clear to me is how redolent of Augustine are the Pope's homilies which I have often cited on dotCom. Now Sandro Magister has devoted a valuable post to the Holy Week homilies and addresses of the Pope, making them conveniently available in one place.Here is how Magister introduces his selection:

these homilies are among the most revealing characteristics of Joseph Ratzinger's pontificate. They are a culmination of the magisterium of this pope, theologian and pastor.They are unmistakably written by the pope himself. And they are inseparably connected to the liturgical celebration in which they were pronounced. In their genre, they are masterpieces.The comparison that comes most naturally is with the homilies of the Fathers of the Church, for example, those of Leo the Great the first pope whose liturgical preaching was preserved , of Saint Ambrose, of Saint Augustine.It is an illuminating comparison under the aspect of communication as well. Because even the homilies of a Leo the Great, at the time, were heard by few and read by fewer. The same can be said of Saint Augustine. But the influence that the preaching of these Fathers had upon the Church was equally great, and was produced over the span of centuries.It is not impossible that something similar could happen with the homilies of Benedict XVI. All that is necessary is that there be, in the Church, persons who recognize the originality and depth of the liturgical preaching of this pope. And who work to expand its audience.

Rev. Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is Associate Professor of Theology Emeritus at Boston College.

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