D. L. SCHINDLER and N.J. HEALY, Eds., Joseph Ratzinger in Communio, Volume 2: Anthropology and Culture. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2013. pp. 199. ISBN 978-0-8028-6417-8. Reviewed by Marc TUMEINSKI, Anna Maria College, Paxton, MA 01612

This volume, number two of a three-volume set, contains 14 articles previously printed in the North American edition of Communio; the articles in this particular volume were originally published over four decades, from 1972 to 2005. Many of the articles started out as talks given by Joseph Ratzinger, but also include a book review and a funeral homily. The selection of articles by the editors, though not written intentionally to be part of a collection, does hold together. The governing theme essentially focuses on the human person, considered both individually as well as collectively–particularly seen against the foundation of the person of Jesus, who is fully human and fully divine. (The two other volumes contain articles on the themes of church and on theological renewal.) The tone of most of the articles is predominantly theological, with forays, for example, into philosophy, Scriptural interpretation, etc. Ratzinger draws on various sources such as the Bible, Church Fathers, theologians, philosophers, liturgy, literature, the lives of the saints, papal encyclicals, etc.

Even with the range of dates of composition and publication, the content and questions discussed (e.g., conscience, freedom, exile, the origin of human life, ethics, hope, Sabbath, technology, politics, humanism, etc.) remain valid for today’s Catholic, no matter what their society or culture. On a lower level of commentary, the articles were translated by various translators but seem fairly consistent in terms of accessibility. Another basic comment: an index for this volume would certainly have been helpful. 

These essays provide much food for thought, more than can be covered adequately in a brief review. Three examples will have to suffice. 
One pattern that comes up in several of the articles centers on a thoughtful reflection on the deep meaning of the Exodus in light of the Cross of Christ. Ratzinger touches on the reality of local diaspora Christian communities, gathered around the Word and the Eucharist, in a covenantal relationship with God. 

Another example is his meditation on St. Francis, in which Ratzinger explores the here-and-now hope, as well as the eschatological hope, expressed in the disposition and desire to live in koinonia with one’s brothers and sisters in faith.

A final example is Ratzinger’s beautiful contemplation of the ‘Our Father’ as a prayer of hope for life, peace and Paradise. His meditation speaks to a deep theology of prayer.
This volume could certainly be used as a supplementary text in a Christian anthropology course. Alternatively, individual essays could be selectively drawn upon for a variety of course topics. My impression of this written work is that it is not for a beginning audience, but it is nonetheless a treasure trove that would bear repeated reading and deep study. It can be read on its own, though combining it with a study of the other two volumes in this series would add depth not only to the understanding of this text but also of Ratzinger’s thought more generally.