Friday, November 30, 2007

Spe Salvi

The Vatican has posted the new encyclical online.

Here are some impressions I had in my first reading.
Pope Benedict shows the many facets of his personality. In some places the encyclical reads like he is teaching a class--wouldn't it be great to have taken one of his courses! For example, he gives an extended exegesis of the famous definition of faith from Hebrews: "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

In other places he appears as a pastor, citing remarkable examples from the lives of the saints. He mentions St Josephine Bakhita as an outstanding example of hope. She went from slavery in Africa to being a religious sister in Italy. The Pope speaks of the great Cardinal Van Thuan, and specifically recommends Prayers of Hope, a book which we published! He also has a long quote from one of the Vietnamese martyrs.

In more posts I'll talk a little more in detail about my impressions, but please do read the encyclical for yourself. All comments on it are most welcome!

1 comment:

SWP said...

I was most keen on the passage about Purgatory.

Not only had I just spent the month of November reflecting on this doctrine, but it seemed to be the destination of the encyclical.

"What can I do in order that others may be saved and that for them too the star of hope may rise?" he asks at the very end. This question moves directly into the previous encyclical on Love.

His Holiness, in the campaign to undermine the Tyranny of Relativism, addresses a Postmodern culture adrift in self-absorption.

To pull out of ourselves, we need the virtue of Hope. Once we acquire this virtue, we learn to die to self. As we die to self, we learn how to Love.

It's amazing how the encyclical was written to move a reader from ennui to purpose. He continually references that rising star image. Hope is ultimately about Loving, helping others lift. I can't wait to see how his encyclical on Faith will prepare us to understand this virtue more.