For a nice early Christmas present Pope Benedict has given his new encyclical Spe Salvi. SPE SALVI facti sumusin hope we were saved.
Update: I had converted the new encyclical to audio and listened to it while I was at work today. Once again I am in pure awe of the writing and intellectual ability of Pope Benedict XVI. With the upcoming Feast of the Incarnation when hope was truly born this encyclical is a wonderful extended meditation of hope. I have never really given extensive reflection on the theological virtue of hope thinking that the theological virtues of love and faith being much meatier. Once again I learn how wrong I was and joyful to have been instructed in the depth of hope and its meaning. The encyclical starts off reflecting on what St. Paul told the Corinthians and expanding it that without God that there is no hope. He later goes on to describe that hope has been transformed from a theological virtue to a pure materialistic concept of hope in progress. His telling of the story of African Saint Josephine Bakhita is quite compelling in the context of this slave finding hope in the true master Jesus Christ who was flogged just as she was.
Now she had hope no longer simply the modest hope of finding masters who would be less cruel, but the great hope: I am definitively loved and whatever happens to meI am awaited by this Love. And so my life is good.
I could probably just keep on quoting more an more from Spe Salvi to the point that I end up posting the whole thing. It will be of no surprise to anybody who is familiar with the Pope’s writings that once again he makes extensive use of St. Augustine to good effect. I like that he touches on the concept of “offering up” and that while at times there were exaggerations in this devotion, that there is something essential and helpful contained with it.
The Pope ends this encyclical as he did with his first one with a wonderful Marian meditation and prayer centered on Ave maris stella – Mary Star of the Sea.