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Milestones: Memoirs, 1927-1977 Paperback – July 21, 2005
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"Here is Cardinal Ratzinger at his most surprising. Who imagines him a teenager risking his life escaping a Nazi forced-labor camp? Or a doctoral candidate shattered by rejection of his dissertation? Or a priest telling of 'the sufferings necessary for the priestly ministry . . . those dark nights that alone can give full shape to the radical assent a priest must give' Milestones, rich with theological insights as are all his works, gives us finally Ratzinger the person. He is a joy to meet." --Cardinal John O'Connor
"A very personal, compelling narrative of a life that continues to have inestimable influence in shaping the mission of the Catholic Church. A rare mix of candor and charity, this book is an opportunity to know personally one of the truly great figures of our time. It should not be missed." --Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, Editor, First Things
Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German
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As a caveat: if you're looking for a comprehensive autobiography, this isn't quite the book for you. It's more snapshots of the most important points in Ratzinger's life. There are obviously a lot of details missing, but still very worth reading!
After Pope Benedict was elected I of course wanted to read some of his writings, I figured his memoirs was the best place to start. I have to say it was a very very brief, but engaging read. Having seen him characterized over and over while cardinal as a hard and unfeeling person, it's amusing to see just how sensitive he actually is, and to see his very human faults as well as his strengths. It also clarifies much of the rumors that have built up around him, particularly in the days of World War II.
I really loved this book, my only complaint was that the photo montage was a little too long, because many of the pictures are the same picture from various angles.
I highly recommend it as a first stepping stone in getting to know Pope Benedict XVI
The book has been around since 1997 but the last paragraph of the book is especially touching in the light of his recent election as pope. The, then, Cardinal recounts the story of a bear who is forced to carry the load of St. Corbinian's beast of burden which the bear had earlier torn to pieces. He goes on to say: "It is said of Corbinian that, once in Rome, he released the bear to freedom. The legend is not concerned about whether it went up into the Arbuzzi or returned to the Alps. In the meantime I have carried my load to Rome and have been wandering the streets of the Eternal City for a long time. I do not know when I will be released, but one thing I do know: that exclamation applies to me too: "I have become your donkey, and in just this way am I with you."
Not being an intellectual myself, I can only marvel at the life and character of this man. Maybe the reading of this small book is a little dry, but if you are interested in learning about him - it is well worth the reading. However, because it is written by himself, there is a lot about the man that I would like to know that isn't covered.
I like the fact that the love for his family and his Bavaria is very evident - almost tangible - all throughout the book, but it is difficult to "crack the code" of his obviously deep and complex personality. Yet, I can understand that unwillingness to expose the deeper self in a book.
For me the book is gratifying, if only for getting the basics but a biography would be better.
It is also a good book to grasp how was the theological environment in Germany before and after the Council V-II.
I learned a lot of catholic theology while reading this book.
purchased it as gifts for friends and they tell me they loved it as well!