A. What is it?
>> “Spe Salvi” is an Encyclical by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI promulgated on November 30, 2007, >> “Spe Salvi” is a Latin title which means “Saved in Hope” and is the second Encyclical by the Pope Emeritus.
B. What does it speak of?
>> “Spe Salvi” speaks about the Theological Virtue of Hope.
>> The central thesis of this Encyclical is that Christian hope utterly transforms human life.
>> The Pope reminds us that we can have hope because we have a great goal: our salvation.
>> We can’t take our salvation for granted because it depends on our cooperation with grace.
>> “Spe Salvi” is divided in 8 sections:
(i) Faith is Hope: The solid basis for our Hope is our “Faith in God”.
>> Because we know God, we can have hope and rest secure in the knowledge that as Christians, we “have a future.”
(ii) The concept of faith-based hope in the New Testament and the early Church: Mentions that the encounter with Christ is not something abstract, but can change our lives. That is what attracted people to it in the beginning of the Church.
(iii) Eternal life – what is it? : “Eternal life” is the ultimate goal, what gives sense to our whole life.
(iv) Is Christian hope individualistic? : The role of Hope is vital, for Faith can be interpreted (wrongly) in a merely “informative sense”, whereas genuine Hope always goes beyond the “informative to the performative”.
(v) The transformation of Christian faith-hope in the modern age: Faith…enables us to experience the reality of God’s Kingdom in this present life.
>> This experience in turn becomes the final proof to us that what we hope for is real and true.
(vi) The true shape of Christian hope: Man’s great, true hope that holds firm in spite of all disappointments can only be God—God Who has loved us and Who continues to love us ‘to the end,’ until all ‘is accomplished.’ ”
(vii) ‘Settings’ for learning and practicing hope: The pope identifies four “settings” for learning and practicing hope. (a) Prayer (b) Deeds of Service (c) Suffering (d) Judgment of God
(viii) Mary, Star of Hope: This is a long prayer to our Lady, invoking her intercession.
C. Pointers for Reflections
1. “Spe Salvi” is a reminder of the Great Virtue of Hope
>> The Three Theological virtues are Faith, Love and Hope
>> Of these, often, Hope is often given a “backseat” and sometimes, even taken for granted
>> This Encyclical calls us to consciously grow in this Theological Virtue especially in this world, which is often “tending towards hopelessness and fatalism”
2. “Spe Salvi” demonstrates a variety of examples and illustrations from other Christian authors, books and other philosophical thinkers/writers
>> Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI displays his class by referencing to a number of authors and books – including a funeral oration by St. Ambrose, theologians like Henri de Lubac, mystics as Augustine of Hippo, Bernard of Clairvaux, and Benedict of Nursia, philosophers such as Francis Bacon, Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Engels, Karl Marx, Max Horkheimer, Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Plato along with other authors and thinkers like Vladimir Lenin, Theodor W. Adorno, Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan.
>> This reminds all Christians of that famous quote: “Every Christian must have a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other.”
D. What virtues/points can we pick up from “Spe Salvi” for this Season of Lent?
1. Being a person of hope
2. Having a deeper thirst for knowledge
E. Tips to practice these virtues
1. Being optimist and cheerful in all the situations of life – and especially when things go wrong, to have “hope” that God is always doing everything for our good. (Rom 8:28)
2. Keeping ourselves updated on the happenings of the world, and seeking to find “Christian solutions” to these day-to-day challenges
May this Lent and the familiarity with the Encyclical “Spe Salvi” help us to grow in our acclamation: “Eureka – I have found the Lord”
(The Full Text of “Spe Salvi” can be found at:http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_ben-xvi_enc_20071130_spe-salvi.html)
God Bless! Live Jesus!