Friday, November 30, 2007

Spe Salvi

Our Holy Father today published his second encyclical, on hope, titled "Spe Salvi." The fulltext from Zenit can be read here.

I have just finished skimming the text, and I won't have time to take it in properly until after my school semester ends. Speaking generally, I see much more of Pope Benedict's own style of teaching coming through here than was the case in "Deus Caritas Est." The Holy Father's text is almost conversational: He tells stories to make his points, and his humble personality is completely transparent. Always the master teacher, I appreciated his grasp of languages -- his knowledge of the Greek text, especially, allowed for a fuller grasp of the biblical texts. A master scholar as well, he managed to condemn Kant, Bacon, and Marx quite politely, both citing his sources and explaining what they meant in such a way that even they couldn't have said it better.

My favorite part comes when he talks about Purgatory:

No one lives alone. No one sins alone. No one is saved alone. The lives of others continually spill over into mine: in what I think, say, do and achieve. And conversely, my life spills over into that of others: for better and for worse. So my prayer for another is not something extraneous to that person, something external, not even after death. In the interconnectedness of Being, my gratitude to the other—my prayer for him—can play a small part in his purification. And for that there is no need to convert earthly time into God's time: in the communion of souls simple terrestrial time is superseded. It is never too late to touch the heart of another, nor is it ever in vain. In this way we further clarify an important element of the Christian concept of hope. Our hope is always essentially also hope for others; only thus is it truly hope for me too. As Christians we should never limit ourselves to asking: how can I save myself? We should also ask: what can I do in order that others may be saved and that for them too the star of hope may rise? Then I will have done my utmost for my own personal salvation as well.

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