Friday, November 30, 2007

Saved by Hope: Spe Salvi, Pope Benedict XVI

Today, Pope Benedict XVI has issued his second encyclical letter to "the bishops, priests, and deacons, men and women religious, and all the lay faithful." This letter is on Christian hope. You'll recall that his first encyclical was on love, called Deus caritas est, issued on Christmas Day, 2005. An encyclical letter is simply a document issued by the Pope to the Church, or particular members of the Church, on a theological or social point he wishes to examine. Popes use encyclicals often as teaching tools for the Church.

Another fun fact: Church documents are often titled in Latin with the first few words of the document itself.

One of my favorite paragraphs so far from Spe salvi is this:

26. It is not science that redeems man: man is redeemed by love. This applies even in terms of this present world. When someone has the experience of a great love in his life, this is a moment of “redemption” which gives a new meaning to his life. But soon he will also realize that the love bestowed upon him cannot by itself resolve the question of his life. It is a love that remains fragile. It can be destroyed by death. The human being needs unconditional love. He needs the certainty which makes him say: “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:38- 39). If this absolute love exists, with its absolute certainty, then—only then—is man “redeemed”, whatever should happen to him in his particular circumstances. This is what it means to say: Jesus Christ has “redeemed” us. Through him we have become certain of God, a God who is not a remote “first cause” of the world, because his only-begotten Son has become man and of him everyone can say: “I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20).
Read Spe salvi here.

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