Saturday, March 9, 2013

Best of Benedict #14

14) Spe Salvi - Saved in Hope, November 30th, 2007

I would argue that the one word most lacking in people today is "hope".  Pope Benedict recognizes this, and wrote, in my opinion, his best encyclical of his three.

In the encyclical he walks people through a process of

1) acknowledging the despair in the world

2) acknowledging that the Christ and His Church, as portrayed by the narrative writers of the West, appear to have little to offer this despair

3) he begins to turn the corner by making an important point - even the despair, the suffering, the pain, even these point to the fact that we know we are made for more.
THE SUFFERING, THE PAIN, THE DESPAIR, IF WE LISTEN TO THEM, THEY ARE TELLING US THAT THINGS ARE NOT AS THEY SHOULD BE, AND IF THINGS AREN'T AS THEY SHOULD BE, IS IT POSSIBLE THAT ONE DAY THEY WILL BE AS THEY SHOULD BE?  If people can start asking that question, then the first rays of the dawn of hope in their lives can begin to take the chill out of their despair and suffering.

4) Be careful of those who offer a false, cheap, or political hope

5) Christ is Hope

Some of the many great quotes from Spe Salvi:

Answering the critique that Jesus, if He is who He should be, should have fixed things more when he came the first time:  "Jesus was not Spartacus.  He was not engaged in a fight for political liberation." (4).

"Faith is not merely a personal reaching out towards things to come that are still totally absent: it gives us something.  It gives ue even now something of the reality we are waiting for, and this present reality constitutes for us a "proof" of the things that are still unseen." (7)

We want life itself, true life, untouched even by death; yet at the same time we do not know the thing towards which we feel driven" (12) and he says also that "we do not know what we would really like; we do not know this "true life"; and yet we know that there must be something we do not know towards which we feel driven" (11)

An important political claim - "the right state of human affairs, the moral well-being of the world can never be guaranteed simply through structures alone, however good they are" (24).  We still have to act rightly in every moment, no matter how good our political system is (or how BAD it is).  We can't let our guard down and say "well, I live in a just society, I need not be vigilant about my actions."

"It is when we attempt to avoid suffering by withdrawing from anything that might involve hurt, when we try to spare ourselves the effort and pain of pursuing truth, love, and goodness, that we drift into a life of emptiness and, in which there may be almost no pain, but the dark sensation of meaninglessness and abandonment is all the greater" (37).

"We can be schooled in hope as one of the chapters notes - there are "settings for learning and practicing hope" including prayer, action, suffering, and a seemingly strange setting - judgement. 

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