Monday, March 7, 2011

Book Review: The Virtues

The Virtues

My latest contribution to the Catholic Company reviewer program is the book The Virtues by Pope Benedict XVI.  At a mere 142 pages, this book is a delightful gem and wonderful gift idea.  The book is divided into two distinct sections:  Part one contains the Theological Virtues and part two features the Cardinal Virtues (see also CCC 1803-1832).  The book is comprised of excerpts from the Holy Father's homilies, addresses and encyclicals paired with quotes from Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  

Though I find it imperative for all Catholics to read the encyclicals and addresses as they come available and refer to them for further study, this book highlights the heart of the writings with a special focus upon the importance of living a virtuous life.  From his encyclical Spe Salvi, the Holy Father explains: 

"It is not science that redeems man:  man is redeemed by love.  This applies even in terms of this present world.  When someone has the experience of a great love in his life, this is a moment of "redemption" which gives a new meaning to his life.  But soon he will also realize that the love bestowed upon him cannot by itself resolve the question of his life.  It is a love that remains fragile.  It can be destroyed by death.The human being needs unconditional love.  He needs the certainty which makes him say: "neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38-39).  If this absolute love exists, with its absolute certainty, then -- only then -- is man "redeemed," whatever should happen to him in his particular circumstances.  This is what it means to say: Jesus Christ has "redeemed" us.  Through him we have become certain of God, a God who is not a remote "first cause" of the world, because his only-begotten Son has become man and of him everyone can say: "I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20)."

In a time where modern occurrences can leave us feeling there is little to hope, sensing a decline in faith among  people and an overwhelming absence of charity, Pope Benedict XVI reminds us that with the assistance of the Paraclete we too can be redeemed by immeasurable love.  The love of Christ which supersedes all other others.  

I highly recommend this book and think it would be wonderful to have with me next time I attend adoration.  The theological insights shared by our Holy Father can only serve to bring one closer to Christ.  

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