This inspiring collection of homilies delivered by Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) over six decades offers deep theological and historical insights on the meaning of the life and the witness of a Catholic priest.
When Pope Benedict XVI inaugurated the Year for Priests in 2009, he did so in conjunction with celebrating the 150th anniversary of the death of John Vianney, the patron saint of all parish priests. Benedict's purpose for that special year is the same purpose of this book of homilies—to deepen the commitment of all priests to interior renewal for the sake of a stronger and more incisive witness to the Gospel in today's world. As St. John Vianney would often say, "The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus." This touching expression makes us reflect on the immense gift that priests represent, not only for the Church but for all mankind.
Contemporary men and women need priests to be distinguished by their determined witness to Christ. These homilies are meant to illuminate and to inspire priests to renew their commitment to "teaching and learning the love of God". The homilies cover a wide variety of important topics on the priesthood, all deeply rooted in Scripture, including acting in persona Christi, becoming an offering with Christ for the salvation of mankind, being there for God's mercy, and witnessing Christian joy.
"Every time I read the works of Joseph Ratzinger, it becomes clear to me that he pursued theology 'on his knees' and still does: on his knees, because we see that he is not only a preeminent theologian and master of the faith, but a man who really believes, really prays. We see that he is a man who embodies holiness, a man of peace, a man of God. And so he embodies in an exemplary way the essence of all priestly work: that deep rootedness in God."
— Pope Francis, from the Foreword
"In this volume, Joseph Ratzinger shows a path that leads out of the crisis into which the Catholic priesthood had fallen for lack of suitable theological and sociological rudiments and motivations. A rewarding reference work, not only for the scholarly theological definition of the sacrament of Holy Orders, but also for more in-depth, spiritual reflection on the vocation to the priesthood, for spiritual exercises for priests, and for preaching about the 'ministry of a new covenant', the 'ministry of the Spirit and of life' (cf. 2 Cor 3:6–8)."
— Gerhard Cardinal Müller, from the Introduction