If you've never gotten to know any of the writings of Pope Benedict XVI, (especially in his pre-pontificate days as the prolific Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger)... or maybe if you've been a tad hesitant to read his works because you've heard he is such a giant among modern theologians... let me recommend this pocket-sized book as a place to start.
Take Five is "bite-sized" Benedict.
This devotional guide, with 72 excerpts on the spiritual life, samples some of Pope Benedict's most recent books, encyclicals, sermons and addresses. Through it you'll benefit from his genius, his humility, and his integrity. Not only that, you'll find out what a "good papa" Benedict is, a real brother and father in the Lord. Most days, we can all benefit from some sort of pastoral care. This is the kind you can take along in the backpack, the baby bag, the briefcase, or the purse.
Take Five really is a page-a-day devotional worthy of the name. You get to meditate on Benedict's words, learn a scripture verse that relates to the subject matter, and just in case you miss the point on those things, each day's lesson has a few questions to help you go deeper. Finally, there's a short thought for the day to carry with you and apply to daily life. It's doggone practical, down to earth, and just what so many of us can use as we long to grow in the spiritual life.
The range of topics is broad and varied, but here are a few that captured my eye: "Your Witness at Work", "Purer Prayer", "The Longing of the Human Heart", "The Power of Beauty", "The Profit Motive", "How to Take a Sick Day", "Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament", "Friendship in Christ", and "Seeing with Christ's Eyes".
Finally, to whet your appetite, I'll leave you with this morsel, excerpted from "The Happiness You Desire" on page 122:
The happiness you have a right to enjoy has a name and a face: it is Jesus of Nazareth, hidden in the Eucharist. Only he gives the fullness of life to humanity! With Mary, say your own "yes" to God, for he wishes to give himself to you.
I repeat today what I said at the beginning of my Pontificate: "If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation."
Be completely convinced of this: Christ takes from you nothing that is beautiful and great, but brings everything to perfection for the glory of God, the happiness of men and women, and the salvation of the world.----Benedict XVI, Address, World Youth Day, Cologne, Germany (Aug. 18, 2005)
This review was written as part of the Catholic book Reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Take Five - Meditations with Pope Benedict XVI.