Review of St. Paul by Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI declared this past year as the Year of St. Paul. I thought it fitting that I should end this year of celebration in honor of this great saint by reading the Holy Father's book, Saint Paul.
The book is the print version of Pope Benedicts's General Audiences from July 2, 2008 ~ February4, 2009. As these audiences took place on a weekly basis, I would suggest reading the book in similar manner. Each chapter is dedicated to one weekly audience and is an average of 10 pages. While this is not considered long, there is a great amount of information as well as depth in each of these chapters.
The Holy Father takes us from the life of St. Paul before and after his conversion on the road to Damascus, but before doing this, he gives us a glimpse of the religious and cultural environment of Paul's day. The book continues through his conversion, his interaction with Peter and the other Apostles and into the teachings of the saint through his epistles. Pope Benedict also explores some challenging questions, such as Did Paul actually know Jesus during His earthly life? What role did the death and resurrection of Jesus play in Paul's teaching? Another topic explored through the writings and teachings of St. Paul is the differences between Catholics and Protestants in coming to salvation. Pope Benedict does an outstanding job in exploring and explaining these differences in chapters 12~14.
The teaching of Apostolic Succession is brought to light through an examination of the Letters to Timothy and Titus, and finally the Holy Father brings his Catecheses on St. Paul to a close with a look at the life and legacy of this great saint.
This book is by no means an "easy read", but well worth the time and effort. Pope Benedict has given great depth, dimension and insight to St. Paul. After reading this book, St. Paul's writings seem to have more life to them. I am someone who has always had a bit of a hard time grasping all St. Paul was trying to teach. The Holy Father has helped me to do what I think the Church intends for us to do, and that is apply these teachings to our everyday lives.
This quote from the back cover of the book sums up the importance of St. Paul's writings in helping us as Catholic Christians to understand Jesus and the gift of our faith.
"...As the human author of half of the New Testament, Paul is a figure who cannot be overlooked by anyone who wants to understand Jesus Christ and Christianity."
I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of this great saint and teacher, as well as a deeper understanding of our Christian faith.

*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 Saint Paul as well as other Catholic products.