Jesus, the Apostles and the Early Church.
Jesus, the Apostles and the Early Church
WRITTEN BY Pope Benedict XVI
PUBLISHED BY Ignatius Press, 2007, ISBN: 978-1-586-172-206, Hardcover, pp. 163,
Pope Benedict has written a number of beautifully produced books, with white and red dust jackets. One is entirely on the life of Jesus, entitled Jesus of Nazareth. Only the first part has been published, by Doubleday. The Holy Father is still writing its sequence. A much slimmer volume is The Apostles. Part 1 of this book is entitled "Co-workers of the Apostles" and among other things it includes a chapter on a married couple, Priscilla and Aquila, and another chapter on "Women at the service of the Gospel."
A third volume is called Jesus, the Apostles and the Early Church. It contains brief addresses prepared for the Holy Father's general audiences on Wednesdays running from March 15, 2006, to February 14, 2007. The dust cover describes the book as "a fascinating journey back to the origins of Christianity," revealing how Jesus' earliest disciples faithfully conveyed the truth about the "Jesus of history" and laid the foundations for the Church.
The fifth and sixth of these are entitled "Communion in Times: Tradition" and "The Apostolic Tradition of the Church." In this series of catechesis, the Pope writes, we are seeking to understand the original plan of the Church in order to understand our place, our Christian life, in the great communion of the Church.
So far we have understood that ecclesial communion is inspired and sustained by the Holy Spirit. This communion which we call "Church" embraces all epochs and all generations. So we have a twofold universality: we are united with believers in every part of the world, and all believers of the past and of the future form with us a single great communion. The Church's apostolic Tradition consists in this transmission of the goods of salvation which, through the power of the Spirit, makes the Christian community the permanent actualization of the original communion-born of the witness of the Apostles and the community of the disciples at the time of its origin, and passed on through the uninterrupted succession of the apostolic ministry.
So, Tradition is the permanent presence of the Saviour who comes to meet us, to redeem us, and to sanctify us in the Spirit, through the ministry of his Church, to the glory of the Father.
The impression we take away from this little book is of how effective a teacher the Pope is. We are fortunate to have such a holy and brilliant man to make clear the basic truths of the Faith, in language the layman can understand. He is a true disciple of the Lord Jesus.
Dr. David Dooley is professor emeritus, English literature, Univ. of Toronto.