A second collection of memorable quotes on the second theological virtue from the work of Benedict XVI.
The Kingdom of God Is A Gift
All serious and upright human conduct is hope in action. This is so first of all in the sense that we thereby strive to realize our lesser and greater hopes, to complete this or that task which is important for our onward journey, or we work towards a brighter and more humane world so as to open doors into the future.
Yet our daily efforts in pursuing our own lives and in working for the world’s future either tire us or turn into fanaticism, unless we are enlightened by the radiance of the great hope that cannot be destroyed even by small-scale failures or by a breakdown in matters of historic importance. If we cannot hope for more than is effectively attainable at any given time, or more than is promised by political or economic authorities, our lives will soon be without hope. It is important to know that I can always continue to hope, even if in my own life, or the historical period in which I am living, there seems to be nothing left to hope for.
Only the great certitude of hope that my own life and history in general, despite all failures, are held firm by the indestructible power of Love, and that this gives them their meaning and importance, only this kind of hope can then give the courage to act and to persevere. Certainly we cannot “build” the Kingdom of God by our own efforts — what we build will always be the kingdom of man with all the limitations proper to our human nature.
The Kingdom of God is a gift, and precisely because of this, it is great and beautiful, and constitutes the response to our hope. And we cannot — to use the classical expression — “merit” Heaven through our works. Heaven is always more than we could merit, just as being loved is never something “merited,” but always a gift. However, even when we are fully aware that Heaven far exceeds what we can merit, it will always be true that our behavior is not indifferent before God and therefore is not indifferent for the unfolding of history. We can open ourselves and the world and allow God to enter: we can open ourselves to truth, to love, to what is good. This is what the saints did, those who, as “God’s fellow workers,” contributed to the world’s salvation (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:9; 1 Thessalonians 3:2).
We can free our life and the world from the poisons and contaminations that could destroy the present and the future. We can uncover the sources of creation and keep them unsullied, and in this way we can make a right use of creation, which comes to us as a gift, according to its intrinsic requirements and ultimate purpose. This makes sense even if outwardly we achieve nothing or seem powerless in the face of overwhelming hostile forces. So on the one hand, our actions engender hope for us and for others; but at the same time, it is the great hope based upon God’s promises that gives us courage and directs our action in good times and bad.
Encyclical, Spe Salvi, No. 35
Judgment and Grace
The judgment of God is hope, both because it is justice and because it is grace. If it were merely grace, making all earthly things cease to matter, God would still owe us an answer to the question about justice the crucial question that we ask of history and of God. If it were merely justice, in the end it could bring only fear to us all. The incarnation of God in Christ has so closely linked the two together — judgment and grace — that justice is firmly established: we all work out our salvation “with fear and trembling” (Philemon 2:12). Nevertheless grace allows us all to hope, and to go trustfully to meet the Judge whom we know as our “advocate,” or parakletos (cf. 1 John 2:1).
Encyclical, Spe Salvi, No. 47
Sign of Hope and Comfort
On the path of Advent shines the star of Mary Immaculate, “a sign of certain hope and comfort” (Lumen Gentium, no. 68). To reach Jesus, the true light, the sun that dispels all the darkness of history, we need light near us, human people who reflect Christ’s light and thus illuminate the path to take. And what person is more luminous than Mary? Who can be a better star of hope for us than she, the dawn that announced the day of salvation? (cf. Spe Salvi, no. 49).
For this reason, the liturgy has us celebrate today, as Christmas approaches, the Solemn Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary: the mystery of God’s grace that enfolded her from the first instant of her existence as the creature destined to be Mother of the Redeemer, preserving her from the stain of original sin. Looking at her, we recognize the loftiness and beauty of God’s plan for everyone: to become holy and immaculate in love (cf. Ephesians 1:4), in the image of our Creator.
What a great gift to have Mary Immaculate as mother! A mother resplendent with beauty, the transparency of God’s love. I am thinking of today’s young people, who grow up in an environment saturated with messages that propose false models of happiness. These young men and women risk losing hope because they often seem orphans of true love, which fills life with true meaning and joy. This was a theme dear to my Venerable Predecessor John Paul II, who so often proposed Mary to the youth of our time as the “Mother of Fair Love.”
Unfortunately, numerous experiences tell us that adolescents, young people, and even children easily fall prey to corrupt love, deceived by unscrupulous adults who, lying to themselves and to them, lure them into the deadends of consumerism; even the most sacred realities, like the human body, a temple of God’s love and of life, thus become objects of consumption and this is happening earlier, even in pre-adolescence. How sad it is when youth lose the wonder, the enchantment of the most beautiful sentiments, the value of respect for the body, the manifestation of the person and his unfathomable mystery!
Angelus, December 8, 2007
The Unjustly Imprisoned
The final peroration of De Consolatione Philosophiae can be considered a synthesis of the entire teaching that Boethius addressed to himself and all who might find themselves in his same conditions. Thus, in prison he wrote: “So combat vices, dedicate yourselves to a virtuous life oriented by hope, which draws the heart upwards until it reaches Heaven with prayers nourished by humility. Should you refuse to lie, the imposition you have suffered can change into the enormous advantage of always having before your eyes the supreme Judge, who sees and knows how things truly are” (Book V, 6: PL 63, cot. 862).
Every prisoner, regardless of the reason why he ended up in prison, senses how burdensome this particular human condition is, especially when it is brutalized, as it was for Boethius, by recourse to torture. Then particularly absurd is the condition of those like Boethius — whom the city of Pavia recognizes and celebrates in the liturgy as a martyr of the faith — who are tortured to death for no other reason than their own ideals and political and religious convictions. Boethius, the symbol of an immense number of people unjustly imprisoned in all ages and on all latitudes, is in fact an objective entrance way that gives access to contemplation of the mysterious Crucified One of Golgotha.
General Audience On Boethius And Cassiodorus, March 12, 2008
Witness The Mystery
Just as the disciples of Emmaus who, hearts warmed by the Word of the Risen and illuminated by His living presence recognized in the breaking of the bread, without pause returned to Jerusalem and became the proclaimers of Christ’s resurrection, we too must take up the path again, animated by the fervent desire to witness the mystery of this love that gives hope to the world.
Synod, The Eucharist: Source And Summit Of The Life And Mission Of The Church, October 23, 2005
Made For Eternity
God has given himself an “image”: in Christ who was made man. In him who was crucified, the denial of false images of God is taken to an extreme. God now reveals his true face in the figure of the sufferer who shares man’s Godforsaken condition by taking it upon himself. This innocent sufferer has attained the certitude of hope: there is a God, and God can create justice in a way that we cannot conceive, yet we can begin to grasp it through faith. Yes, there is a resurrection of the flesh (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church 988-1004).
There is justice (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1040). There is an “undoing” of past suffering, a reparation that sets things aright. For this reason, faith in the Last Judgment is first and foremost hope — the need for which was made abundantly clear in the upheavals of recent centuries. I am convinced that the question of justice constitutes the essential argument, or in any case the strongest argument, in favor of faith in eternal life. The purely individual need for a fulfillment that is denied to us in this life, for an everlasting love that we await, is certainly an important motive for believing that man was made for eternity; but only in connection with the impossibility that the injustice of history should be the final word does the necessity for Christ’s return and for new life become fully convincing.
To protest against God in the name of justice is not helpful. A world without God is a world without hope (cf. Ephesians 2:12). Only God can create justice. And faith gives us the certainty that he does so.
Encyclical, Spe Salvi, Nos. 43-44