Thursday, January 10, 2008

Commentary on Spe Salvi

~by Archbishop Burke. Continuing with his practice of explaining the Holy Father's letters, Abp. Burke began his series on Spe Salvi. If you've not read Pope Benedict's second encyclical, here's a companion while you're working your way through it. I disciplined myself to read slowly this time around and I'm thankful that I did.
Our life in Christ, which must endure many temptations and trials, because we remain on earth, is, therefore, lived in the sure hope of the fulfillment of the grace of salvation at work in us from the moment of our baptism. St. Paul declares: "For in this hope, we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience" (Romans 8:24-25).

Hope teaches us to bear patiently the suffering of daily conversion to Christ in the sure hope that eternal salvation will be ours.

Salvation not a given but a secure goal Pope Benedict XVI begins his encyclical letter "On Christian Hope" by observing that salvation "is not simply a given." Our life, rather, is directed to a secure goal, eternal life, which we do not yet see. In other words, the gift of Christ’s life dwelling within us sets us on the way to eternal life, giving us already a share in eternal life on earth; but the pilgrimage of life must be traveled with fidelity in order to reach the goal, the fullness of eternal life.

Christ, dwelling within us through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, gives us "trustworthy hope, by virtue of which we can face our present: the present, even if it is arduous, can be lived and accepted if it leads toward a goal, if we can be sure of this goal and if this goal is great enough to justify the effort of the journey" (Spe Salvi, n. 1). Christ abides with us in the Church, accompanying us along the pilgrimage of our life on earth in patient waiting for our passover from this life to the life which is to come and for His Final Coming at the end of time, when He will restore us, body and soul, and all creation to the perfection with which and for which God created the world and has called us into being as His beloved sons and daughters.

Having described our life in Christ as lived in hope, Pope Benedict XVI immediately asks the question: "(W)hat sort of hope could ever justify the statement that, on the basis of that hope and simply because it exists, we are redeemed?" (n. 1). In other words, how is it possible to say with certainty that we are saved in hope?

1 comment:

Jeff said...

I belong to a reading group that is working its way through the Encyclical.

We stopped to chat about something and I said (about your blog), "I've just been reading something about St. Maximus the Confessor. He says the Crucifixion was dragon bait", etc.

Then it was my turn to read. I read a couple of sentences and then the Holy Father said something like, "As St. Maximus the Confessor says..."

One of those "coincidences, but there are no coincidences" moments...