In the book-length interview he granted to Peter Seewald - published in 2010 as Light of the World: The Pope, the Church, and the Signs of the Times - Father Benedict reflected on a number of topics with his usual erudition and simplicity, including truth. He said, in part:
Simplicity is truth—and truth is simple. Our problem is that we no longer see the forest for the trees; that for all our knowledge, we have lost the path to wisdom. This is also the idea behind Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince, which shows how the cleverness of our age causes us, ironically, to overlook the essential, while the Little Prince, who hasn’t the faintest idea about all this cleverness, ultimately sees more and better.
This was not the first time Benedict XVI referenced The Little Prince.What really counts? What is authentic? What keeps us going? The key thing is to see what is simple.
In his book, Behold the Pierced One: An Approach to a Spiritual Christology (which is arguable his best and yet least read book), which he published while he was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the then-Cardinal Ratzinger wrote:
For "you only see properly with your heart", as Saint-Exupéry's Little Prince says. (And the Little Prince can be taken as a symbol for that childlikeness which we must regain if we are to find our way back out of the clever foolishness of the adult world and into man's true nature, which is beyond mere reason.)Given that Behold the Pierced One was published in German in 1984 (and in English in 1986), the impact of The Little Prince on the Pontiff Emeritus is clear to see.
The Little Prince is a book that I, too, have greatly enjoyed. In fact, I only first read the book because of the intriguing quote and comment made in Behold the Pierced One. It was a book I did not regret reading and one that I have read again several times.
Already made into a movie starring Gene Wilder in 1974, The Little Prince is soon to hit theaters again in animated form:
The movie will be released in France on July 29th. I have not yet found a U.S. release date, but I hope it will be very near that (it won't be released in Italy until January 2016; it would be unfortunate if that were the case in the U.S.). I expect to be in Quincy about that time this summer and so will have to organize a book club ahead of the release and a big outing to see the film.