... behind this apparently so unapproachable farmer's son, who sent his children to daily Mass, lay concealed a frequently lonely yet basically always soft heart. He was a nourishing father in a double sense. For the primary spiritual care from which the children's vocations developed was his own; we may say today, it was a historic contribution.
"My brother was a server in the church," recounts Georg, "and I played the organ." They experienced all that as "quite normal, healthy, robust religious piety." Because of their father's seriousness and strictness, of course, the intimate relationship with God and Mother Church was not something considered secondary; rather, it was the central thing, the lifeblood of the family. Parents' notions of bringing up children frequently produce the opposite effect when they are applied with too great a rigor. It is obviously the secret of a loving heart when the father's attitude does not frighten off the children or nearly drive God right out of them but, rather, is attractive and constructive. "Religion was in a very manly and absolute way the fundamental theme of his life", is how his son describes him. And he adds, "We always sensed the goodness behind his strictness."
Their father made books available to his youngest child, too, first a child's prayerbook, then a children's missal, then a German-Latin "Schott" for children (song book), finally the Sunday "Schott", and eventually a complete daily missal. Joseph now saw worship as a "celebration." There were especially the "angel offices" on the cold, snowy winter days, which he loved. Or the Gethsemane devotions and the celebration of the Resurrection, with all the embellishments, the pictures, the music, the special drama, which made it possible to open the door to a world that usually remains hidden from man, hurried and distracted as he is.
Peter Seewald captivates the reader on many different levels in his book Benedict XVI - An Intimate Portrait.
His portrayal of Joseph Ratzinger, Sr., Pope Benedict XVI's father I found most interesting and since we often talk about fatherhood I thought I would share a little of Seewald's research.
Lady Aramis gave the book to me for Christmas however I was unable to start in on it till after she read it for she became so taken by Pope Benedict XVI's story that she couldn't put it down - she has grown 100% in her admiration of him since reading the book. Those of the Roman Catholic faith will like it but those not may actually get more out of it. His is a great story.