Questions and Answers

Pope Benedict XVI
Our Sunday Visitor
Sewn Hardcover
Number of pages: 
176 pages
Grade / Age level: 

The cover of the book says it all. Fully attentive to the children before him, he is ready to assist them in the best way possible through his prayers, and in this case, his answers to their questions about life and faith. The person is Pope Benedict XVI and the book is Questions and Answers.

If you could ask the Holy Father any question, what would you ask him? At various meetings with Pope Benedict XVI from his election in 2005 until 2007, groups of children, young people, and priests asked him a wide range of questions from his memories of his First Communion to what can priests do to reach out to young people. Questions and Answers is a compilation of these intriguing questions and thought-provoking answers during these encounters.

One of my favorite responses is his answer to why we should go to confession often.

“. . . it is helpful to confess with a certain regularity. It is true: Our sins are always the same, but we clean our homes, our rooms, at least once a week, even if the dirt is always the same; in order to live in cleanliness, in order to start again. Otherwise, the dirt might not be seen, but it builds up. Something similar can be said about the soul, for me myself: If I never go to confession, my soul is neglected and, in the end, I am always pleased with myself and no longer understand that I must always work hard to improve, that I must make progress. And this cleansing of the soul that Jesus gives us in the Sacrament of Confession helps us to make our consciences more alert, more open, and hence, it also helps us to mature spiritually and as human persons.”

There are many questions that apply to life and faith. “What good does it do for our everyday life to go to Holy Mass and receive Communion? What is Eucharistic Adoration? Help us to talk to the mothers of all the boys and girls who attend catechism classes and are often distracted? Why should not women also have a hand in governing the Church? How is it possible to hope when reality negates every dream of happiness, every project of life?"

If you have been hesitant to read one of his other books because you were afraid he would be theologically or philosophically above your head, this books was written for you. Because these answers were addressed to a live audience, the question and answers are easy to understand.

What is quite evident throughout the book is why Pope Benedict XVI was chosen by the Holy Spirit to guide the Church. His love of Christ and his mission zeal for humanity permeates all his answers. In answer to the question by a young person who struggles with reading and understanding the Bible, Pope Benedict XVI says, “It must first of all be said that one must not read Sacred Scripture as one reads any kind of historical book, such as, for example, Homer, Ovid, or Horace; it is necessary truly to read it as the Word of God—that is, entering into a conversation with God.”

He is fully aware of the great problems of our time and the Church. Yet, his answers express his hope and love for us all. In answer to a question about proclaiming the Gospel to non-Christian immigrants, he says, “The first point is that the reason for our hope must be ever present within us. We must be people who live faith and think faith, people with an inner knowledge of it. So it is that faith becomes reason within us, it becomes reasonable.” His answer is much more detailed, so you’ll have to read the book to find out the rest.

I assumed that some of the questions would be of interest to only children, youth, or priests; rather, I was surprised to learn that many of them applied to us all. As a member of the Body of Christ, they do apply to me and how I live my life. For example, some of the questions express concern for reaching out to young people, I too, need to live my life in such a way that I can reach out to young people.

Easy to read and understand, uplifting, yet fully aware of the many problems facing the Church and the world, Questions and Answers is an inspiring as well as challenging read, challenging, because these questions and responses challenge me to live my life more fully as a Christian.

Animated and candid, Questions and Answers offers a fresh, personable, and inspiring look at Pope Benedict XVI and the hope that is our Catholic faith.

Additional notes: 

A topical index is included.

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