Monday, January 01, 2007


Many years ago now, a brilliant young German scholar of the 20th century, Joseph Ratzinger, wrote a treatise on the theology of history implicit in the writings a brilliant Italian scholar of the 13th century, St. Bonaventure. He concluded the work with words that I hope will serve to express the theological virtue of hope appropriate to our hopes for the new year. Concluding his exploration of the Bonaventurian theology of history, Ratzinger wrote:
At the vanishing point of his theology of history we find the very same word which Augustine had used at the close of his City of God, which in itself is so different from the work of Bonaventure. That word is peace: "And then there will be peace." But for Bonaventure, this peace has come closer to earth. It is not that peace in the eternity of God which will never end and which will follow the dissolution of this world. It is a peace which God Himself will establish in this world which has seen so much blood and tears, as if at least at the end of time, God would show how things could have been and should have been in accordance with His plan. Here the breath of a new age is blowing; an age in which the desire for the glory of the other world is shaped by a deep love of this earth on which we live. But despite the difference that may separate the work of these two great Christian theologians, still there is a basic unity: both Augustine and Bonaventure know that the Church which hopes for peace in the future is, nonetheless, obliged to love in the present; and they both realize that the kingdom of eternal peace is growing in the hearts of those who fulfill Christ's law of love in their own particular age. Both see themselves subject to the word of the Apostle: "So there remain faith, hope, and love, these three. But the greatest of these is love" (1 Cor. 13:13).
Amen to that. Happy New Year.

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