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A Friday filled with Hope

November 30, 2007
"One of the two who heard John [the Baptist] speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first found his brother Simon, and said to him, "We have found the Messiah." (Jn 1:40-41)
Whenever I hear this passage about Andrew I think of the excitement of a child -- a wide eyed innocence, but more importantly the joy of a hope fulfilled. Here the Jewish people have been waiting for a Saviour, waiting, and hoping, and now He is here!
It's appropriate we celebrate the feast of this great Apostle today, as we prepare to enter into the Advent season this weekend; a time where we prepare our hearts for Christ, and the hope of Christmas.
It's also an appropriate day for Pope Benedict to release his second encyclical, Spe Salvi. The title, besides being the opening words of the encyclical, comes from St. Paul’s letter to Romans, ch 8, verse 24: “Spe salvi facti sumus”—in hope we were saved. The presentation of the document was made today in Rome by Cardinal Georges Marie Martin Cottier O.P., the theologian emeritus of the Pontifical Household, and Cardinal Albert Vanhoye S.J., the professor emeritus of New Testament exegesis at the Pontifical Biblical Institute.
The document is dense, but flows well. The Holy Father discusses freedom and reason, suffering, modernity, Marxism, he shares stories on St. Josephine Bakhita, Cardinal Van Thuan, Our Lady, St. Augustine, the closeness between faith and hope, eternal life and the Final judgment as opportunities for hope, the importance of fostering hope through prayer, and the importance of Christian Hope:
"Let us say once again: we need the greater and lesser hopes that keep us going day by day. But these are not enough without the great hope, which must surpass everything else. This great hope can only be God, who encompasses the whole of reality and who can bestow upon us what we, by ourselves, cannot attain. The fact that it comes to us as a gift is actually part of hope. God is the foundation of hope: not any god, but the God who has a human face and who has loved us to the end, each one of us and humanity in its entirety. His Kingdom is not an imaginary hereafter, situated in a future that will never arrive; his Kingdom is present wherever he is loved and wherever his love reaches us. His love alone gives us the possibility of soberly persevering day by day, without ceasing to be spurred on by hope, in a world which by its very nature is imperfect. His love is at the same time our guarantee of the existence of what we only vaguely sense and which nevertheless, in our deepest self, we await: a life that is “truly” life."
- Spe Salvi, paragraph 31
It's definitely worth taking the time to read this rich new encyclical.  The document may be found on the Vatican website by clicking HERE