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Pope Benedict XVI's Rookie Year as a Priest
Insight Scoop ^ | April 17, 2010 | Carl Olson

Posted on 04/17/2010 1:57:38 PM PDT by NYer

Before he was Pope Benedict XVI, or Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, our new pope was a young Bavarian seminarian. In his autobiography, Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977, Joseph Ratzinger recounts his ordination on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul in Freising, Germany, in 1951, and his first years as a parish priest and then completing his doctorate while teaching at the seminary.

We were more than forty candidates, who, at the solemn call on that radiant summer day, which I remember as the high point of my life, responded “Adsum”, Here I am. We should not be superstitious; but, at that moment when the elderly archbishop laid his hands on me, a little bird—perhaps a lark—flew up from the high altar in the cathedral and trilled a little joyful song. And I could not but see in this a reassurance from on high, as if I heard the words “This is good, you are on the right way.” There then followed four summer weeks that were like an unending feast. On the day of our first Holy Mass, our parish church of Saint Oswald gleamed in all its splendor, and the joy that almost palpably filled the whole place drew everyone there into the most living mode of “active participation” in the sacred event, but this did not require any external busyness. We were invited to bring the first blessing into people’s homes, and everywhere we were received even by total strangers with a warmth and affection I had not thought possible until that day. In this way I learned firsthand how earnestly people wait for a priest, how much they long for the blessing that flows from the power of the sacrament. The point was not my own or my brother’s person. What could we two young men represent all by ourselves to the many people we were now meeting? In us they saw persons who had been touched by Christ’s mission and had been empowered to bring his nearness to men. Precisely because we ourselves were not the point, a friendly human relationship could develop very quickly.

Made strong by the experience of these weeks, on August 1 I began my ministry as assistant pastor in the parish of the Precious Blood in Munich. The greater portion of the parish lay in a residential suburb in which intellectuals, artists, and high government officials lived; but there were also rows of houses belonging to employees and people who worked in small shops, as well as butlers and maids, who in those days belonged to wealthier households. The rectory had been built by a famous architect. It was homey but too small, and the great number of people who came to help out in various functions often created a hectic atmosphere. But the important thing was my encounter with the pastor, good Father Blumschein, who not only said to others that a priest had to “glow” but was himself a person who glowed within. To his last breath he desired with every fiber of his being to offer priestly service. He died, in fact, bringing the sacraments to a dying person. His kindness and inner fervor for his priestly mission were what gave a special character to this rectory. What at first glance could appear to be hectic activity was in reality the expression of a continually lived readiness to serve.

I surely was in need of such a model, because the load of tasks assigned to me was great. I had to give sixteen hours of religious instruction at five different levels, which obviously required much preparation. Every Sunday I had to celebrate at least two Masses and give two different sermons. Every morning, I sat in the confessional from six to seven, and on Saturday afternoons for four hours. Every week there were several burials in the various cemeteries of the city. I was totally responsible for youth ministry, and to this I had to add extracurricular obligations like baptisms, weddings, and so on. Since the pastor did not spare himself, neither did I want to, nor could I spare myself. Because of my scant practical training, I had at first some difficulty with these duties. But soon the work with the children in the school, and the resulting association with their parents, became a great joy to me, and the encounter with different groups of Catholic youth also quickly generated a good feeling of community. To be sure, it also became evident how far removed the world of the life and thinking of many children was from the realities of faith and how little our religious instruction coincided with the actual lives and thinking of our families. Nor could I overlook the fact that the form of youth work, which was simply a continuation of methods developed between the two World Wars, would not be able to deal with the changing circumstances of the world we now lived in: we simply had to look for new forms. Some of the insights that came to me as I experienced these changed conditions I gathered up some years later in my essay “The New Pagans and the Church”, which at that time triggered a lively discussion.

My assignment to the seminary at Freising, which my superiors decided would begin on October 1, 1952, aroused various reactions in me. On the one hand, this was the solution I had desired, the one that would enable me to return to my theological work, which I loved so much. On the other hand, I suffered a great deal, especially in the first year, from the loss of all the human contacts and experiences afforded me by the pastoral ministry. In fact, I even began to think I would have done better to remain in parish work. The feeling of being needed and of accomplishing an important service had helped me to give all I could, and this gave me a joy in the priesthood that I did not experience in so direct a manner in my new assignment. I now had to give a series of lectures to the last-year students on the pastoral aspects of the sacraments, and, although the experience I could draw on was rather limited, at least it was recent and fresh in my mind. To this was added work in the cathedral—liturgical services and hours in the confessional—as well as the responsibility of a youth group started by my predecessor. Above all I had to complete my doctorate, which at that time was no mean proposition: in each of eight subjects I had to pass a one-hour oral examination and complete a written examination, and the process culminated in an open debate for which I had to prepare theses from all theological disciplines. Especially for Father and Mother, it was a great joy when, in July 1953, I walked across the stage and received the cap as doctor of theology.

For more about the life and work of Pope Benedict XVI/Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, including a complete list of his books published by Ignatius Press, visit his author page

TOPICS: Catholic; Current Events; History

1 posted on 04/17/2010 1:57:38 PM PDT by NYer
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To: netmilsmom; thefrankbaum; markomalley; Tax-chick; GregB; saradippity; Berlin_Freeper; Litany; ...

Historical ping!

2 posted on 04/17/2010 1:58:09 PM PDT by NYer ("Where Peter is, there is the Church." - St. Ambrose of Milan)
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To: NYer

Thanks for this insight into a fine man who is now being unfairly attacked.

3 posted on 04/17/2010 3:07:33 PM PDT by hellbender
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To: NYer
Pope Benedict XVI's Rookie Year as a Priest
Benedict XVI Urges Priests to Come to Rome
On the Priest's Mission as Teacher
Holy Week and the Priesthood

THE PRIEST IN THE COMMUNION RITES - Liturgy Prepares for Reception of the Eucharist
An Hermeneutic of Priestly Continuity [Pope Benedict to Congregation for Clergy] Catholic Caucus
Revitalizing Your Priesthood (The Grace of Ars -- about St. John Vianney)
Pope's "Lectio Divina" to Roman Priests (Part 2)
Pope's "Lectio Divina" to Roman Priests (Part 1)

The Seminary as Nazareth: Formation in a School of Prayer [Year of the Priest feature]
The Ministry of Jesus through the Office of the Bishop
Renewed... and Reconciled
100 Prayers For Priests (Catholic Caucus)
Priest Offers 'Ten Things That Promote Vocations' In Honor Of National Vocation Awareness Week

A Time to Praise our Fathers (National Vocation Awareness Week) [Catholic Caucus]
On Praying for Priests (Thoughts from St. Thérèse of Lisieux)
The Priesthood and the Mass
Vatican Aide: Priest Vocations Up in 20 Countries (England and Wales among them)
The Experience of ‘The Call’ (Discerning a Call to the Priesthood or Religious Life)

Priesthood Sunday - October 25, 2009
Health Care Council Letter to Priests, "A Priest at the Bedside of a Sick Person Represents Christ"
A Vocation to Be a Priest?
Do You Appreciate Your Priest? (with a touch of humor)
In India, Holy Orders

A priest’s chalice
Christ for Us: The Year for Priests [Catholic/Orthodox Caucus]
On Mary, Mother of Priests
Bishop Olmsted on the Devil and John Vianney
Catholic Caucus: Prayer for Our Priests (Year of the Priest)

Benedict reflects on Mary and the priesthood [Catholic Caucus]
The Priesthood — A Priceless Gift
Forming Those Who Form Priests: The Gift of Purity of Heart
Spiritual Mothers of Priests: Your Questions [Year of the Priest]
Eucharistic Season in the Year of the Priesthood

Pope's Address at Audience With New Archbishops: "Carry Deeply in Your Hearts Your Priests"
No Matter What, He Always "Acts Like a Priest" [Ecumenical]
On Priestly Identity
What Can I Do For the Year of the Priest?
The Rosary for the Year of the Priest [Catholic Caucus]

Pope Notes His Goal for Year for Priests
On the Year for Priests
Curé d'Ars: Model Priest [Year of the Priest]
ZENIT Launches Column on Priesthood

[Justin] Cardinal Rigali on the Year for Priests
Church Being Given Chance to Rediscover Priesthood [Year of the Priest]
Celebrating the Year of the Priesthood
St. John Vianney's Pastoral Plan

Year of the Priest Letter (Media immediately scrutinize its contents for controversy)
Year of the Priest [Catholic Caucus]
The Year for Priests [Catholic Caucus]
Year of the Priest Begins Friday
U.S. bishops launch website for Year for Priests

4 posted on 04/17/2010 8:17:29 PM PDT by Salvation ( "With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: hellbender
I know I am not the only one who deeply appreciates your fair-mindedness and your good judgment at the time of this most vile media/political attack on our besieged Church.

Thank YOU for your thoughtful support of our good and beloved Pope Benedict.

5 posted on 04/18/2010 4:11:36 PM PDT by Mrs. Don-o ("In Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others." Romans 12:5)
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