Joseph Ratzinger’s / Pope Benedict XVI’s list of accomplishments is unparalleled in modern times—in both theological and academic terms. He held prestigious teaching positions in Europe’s finest universities.  He played a pivotal role in the deliberations of Vatican II and the formulation of its teachings. His theological publications number above fifteen hundred. And he served the Catholic Church as its Pontiff for eight years.

In O Lord, I Seek Your Countenance, Fr. Emery de Gaál contends that Ratzinger/ Benedict is reminiscent of a Church Father in his theological virtuosity. But beyond his brilliant intellect, Benedict’s deep Christ-centered spirituality is what gives life and verve to his academic pursuits.  Through essays that explore Benedict’s rich and varied theological thought and achievements, from the 1950s through his Jesus of Nazareth trilogy, de Gaál apprehends Ratzinger as a theologian with philosophical sensitivity whose insights have shaped and will continue to shape the course of Catholic theology for years to come.


About the author:

Emery de Gaál a is a priest of the Catholic diocese of Eichtätt, Bavaria, Germany. He is chairman and professor of dogmatic theology at the University of St. Mary of the Lake/ Mundelein Seminary. He studied philosophy and theology in Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Munich. De Gaál is the author of The Theology of Pope Benedict XVI: The Christocentric Shift and numerous articles on Benedict XVI’s theology.



“Cardinal Joachim Meisner famously described Joseph Ratzinger as the Mozart of theology. This book is likely to establish Fr. de Gaál as the Liszt of Ratzinger interpreters. This presentation of Ratzinger/Benedict’s many insights into the theological crises of our times is a virtuoso performance.  It includes reference to some of the lesser known of Ratzinger’s interventions at the time of the Second Vatican Council, hitherto unpublished lectures from his period as a university professor, and highly penetrating expositions of Ratzinger’s better known ‘high points of European Intellectuality.’ One can read this collection of essays and feel proud to be a Catholic. Intellectual rigor is matched with love for the subject and with an elegance in expression which can only be the fruit of the high culture of the Incarnation in its middle-European embodiment.”
—Tracey Rowland
University of Notre Dame (Australia)

“Fr. Emery de Gaál’s O Lord, I Seek Your Countenance will surely be indispensable reading for those wishing to understand both the shape and impact of Joseph Ratzinger’s thought. Not only does it survey an impressive range of Ratzinger’s published writings, both before and after his election as Benedict XVI, but it supplements these with heretofore unseen archival materials and the recollections of close collaborators. The author argues convincingly that Ratzinger’s theology centers on the concrete person of Christ, whose ‘face’ the theologian must seek. I learned much in reading it!”
—Aaron Pidel, SJ
Marquette University

“This is an impressive work. It blends compelling biographical detail with sustained theological insight and displays meticulous and exacting scholarship. Reading O Lord, I Seek Your Countenance will enable those with little knowledge of Benedict XVI to appreciate the big-picture significance of his work, but will also enlighten enthusiasts with a sophisticated interpretation of the Pope Emeritus’s contributions to fundamental theology. De Gaál draws lavishly on a remarkable number of hitherto neglected or underappreciated texts and discloses startlingly new aspects by entering into the depth of Benedict XVI’s engagement with perennial questions in theological epistemology.”
—Jacob Phillips
St. Mary’s University (UK)

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O Lord, I Seek Your Countenance: Explorations and Discoveries in Pope Benedict XVI’s Theology