Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Archbishop Chaput: "On Christian Hope"

(Hat tip: Custos Fidei)

Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput writes at First Things:
Pope Benedict XVI released his new encyclical letter, Spe Salvi (Saved by Hope), November 30, just two days before the beginning of Advent. Not surprisingly, the Holy Father’s timing was perfect because Advent, more than any other season of the year, is rooted in the virtue of hope.

For Catholics, the real new year begins not on January 1 but on the First Sunday of Advent, the day when the Church begins her annual new cycle of Scripture readings and worship. The season of Advent, deriving from the Latin verb advenire, meaning “to come” or “to arrive,” has a two-fold purpose: first, to remind us of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem and all that it implied for the salvation of the world; and, second, to ready us for Christ’s second coming at the end of time as king and judge of creation. Like Lent, Advent is a time of preparation. Also like Lent, Advent is a penitential season–but not in the same strict way. Rather, Advent embodies the words of the liturgy, which remind us that “we wait in joyful hope” for the coming of our savior, Jesus Christ.

Benedict’s new encyclical is a rich and challenging document. It’s not easily absorbed in one reading. But one of its most important lines can be found right in the opening sentences. The Holy Father reminds us that, for Christians, the virtue of hope enables us to face the burdens of daily life, no matter how heavy. He writes that “the present, even if it is arduous, can be lived and accepted if it leads towards a goal, if we can be sure of this goal, and if this goal is great enough to justify the effort of the journey.” Faith in Jesus Christ leads us to hope for eternal life. Christ’s life gives our lives meaning. If we really believe in Jesus Christ, we will have confidence in the future, no matter how bleak some days or some problems seem. For, in the end, Jesus has already won our salvation and the happiness that comes with it.


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