Monday, July 16, 2007

Hope is now personalized ...

In his book on eschatology, Joseph Ratzinger -- now Pope Benedict XVI -- wrote:
Christian hope is not some news item about tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. We might put it this way: hope is now personalized. Its focus is not space and time, the question of "Where?" and "When?," but relationship with Christ's person and longing for him to come close.
Though Christ is always at the center of this personalization of eschatological hope, Cardinal Ratzinger's subsequent rejoinder to Jean Paul Sartre -- "heaven is other people" -- has a bearing as well. Quoting again from his book on eschatology:
... the person who is set about by dangers in time and eternity finds a shelter in the communion of saints. He gathers the redeemed of all ages around him and finds safety under their mantle. This signifies that the walls separating heaven and earth, and past, present and future, are now as glass. The Christian lives in the presence of the saints as his own proper ambiance, and so lives "eschatologically."
With the death of my beloved Liz, and in the months since her death, I have experienced precisely this. It is in having Liz ever before me in my thoughts and prayers that my life has acquired an eschatological horizon. This, and not some theological principle or doctrinal belief, is what grounds eschatology and gives it the relationality proper to all things Christian.

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