Bishop Blair: "The World is Not Enough"
Toledo Bishop Leonard P. Blair writes on the Holy Father's latest encyclical, Spe Salvi, in the January 2008 issue of The Catholic Chronicle:
The world is not enough
Written by Bishop Leonard P. Blair
Friday, 04 January 2008
For many people “the world is not enough” is the title of a James Bond movie. At a higher level, these same words capture very well a fundamental teaching Pope Benedict has addressed in his new encyclical letter Spe Salvi, “on Christian hope.”
The Holy Father says that as Christians we are certainly committed to the many good things humanity hopes for at the beginning of the New Year, that is, to improving this world, to making it more as God created it to be. During Advent we heard the voice of John the Baptist calling us to prepare the way of the Lord by living a life of love, justice and mercy, of moral and ethical responsibility. We need the greater and lesser hopes for a better life in this world to keep us going day by day.
However, Pope Benedict goes to the heart of Christian faith when he says these earthly hopes are not enough. They are not enough without what he calls the “great hope,” which must surpass everything else.
Spe Salvi raises some challenging questions. Today have we replaced hope in eternal life with hope in this present life? Hope in the kingdom of God with hope in the kingdom of man? Hope in redemption with hope in earthly progress?
To some, these questions may seem exaggerated. Consider, however, the following:
When it comes to personal life, for many Catholics today attendance at sports events, or a trip to the mall, or a leisurely brunch are all considered equal and even more desirable alternatives to worshipping God at Sunday Mass, which is an obligation we have to God as His creatures in obedience to the Third Commandment.
When it comes to social life, in the past religious faith inspired many of the greatest artistic works and cultural institutions in human history. The local cathedral or church and the rhythm of the liturgical year brought people together in the family and in society. Today, even Christmas has been grossly commercialized and stripped of much of its Christian content. And reflective of material priorities, the shopping mall or sometimes even the gambling casinos are increasingly the real hubs of local energies and social activity.
When it comes to moral life, our nation’s founding documents make frequent reference to God, and until recently our society lived by accepted moral norms grounded in God-given reason. A common moral law was acknowledged which, over and above cultural differences, enables human beings to come to a common understanding regarding the most important aspects of good and evil, justice and injustice. Today, even the life of unborn babies is not protected, and something as fundamental as marriage is no longer thought to have any established meaning and purpose, but can be redefined at will.
This list could go on and on. Do we really believe that “the world is not enough” or are we limiting our vision and our hope to this world alone? This is a question of fundamental importance both for time and eternity, as the Holy Father makes clear...
[Read the whole thing]
Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Bishop Blair: "Peace on Earth, in Communities, Homes"
Bishop Blair Urges Toledo-Area Catholics to Reject Domestic-Partner Registry
Bishop Blair: "Listening to Our Mother"
"How a Shepherd Speaks"
Bishop Blair: "A Dialogue of Truth and Love"
Bishop Blair: "Upholding the Bond of Love" (Part 3)
Bishop Blair: "Upholding the Bond of Love" (Part 2)
Bishop Blair: "Upholding the Bond of Love"
Bishop Blair: "The Gospel of Life Revisited"
Bishop Blair: "Building Your House on a Rock"
Meeting the Bishop - After Action Report
Bishop Blair Teaches: "And With Your Spirit"
Bishop Blair: "What God Joins Together"