Friday, November 10, 2006

Another Witness to Hope

We all need it. Our Faith and Love starve for it. We can't persevere through the legion of obstacles without it.


Amy Welborn believes Pope Benedict XVI expresses it with his pastoral style and Augustinian sensibility. Behold:
By the way...what exactly is the opposite of "Augustinian pessimism?" Panglossian optimism? "Augustinian pessimism" has always seemed like simple realism to me.

But I have to say, when I read items like this, I don't see pessimism. I see optimism that eventually, when presented with the truth, people will eventually find their way to it. Don't you think that has marked almost every talk that has come from Benedict? A conviction that, first of all, God is real, human beings are made by God, in his image, and find their peace in Him. (yes, Augustinian, indeed.) All of the competing voices and temptations out there will eventually fail us, individually and collectively, and we'll eventually figure out that what God is offering us is not a prison sentence, but a key to unlock the prison in which we've locked ourselves.

When I listen to him, I hear a wise old man who has just about seen and heard it all - who, especially in his years at CDF, saw the best and the worst, and who, most importantly, also saw how people find their way out of the worst. Force-feeding and slamming down the books - any kind of sudden action out of the blue - will immediately put Newton's Third Law into motion. He has a deep sense of history, and of how human beings live in history, and and an ackowledgment that human beings are not perfect and never will be on this earth. That there have never been perfect times, and never will be. What we can do is far more than just limit the damage, but it is also true that falling into the trap of having faith in our own imagined perfection has its own set of deep dangers.

What I am trying to say, though, is that i find Benedict's process, such as I understand it, indicative, not of pessimism, but of an incredible optimism. (or - per Richard in the comments - hope.) Profound faith in God, in the truth, and in how all of this inevitably connects with the depths of the human heart - and if it is just explained enough to people with an open mind...we'll get it. Eventually, we will. Forcing or manipulating is not the way to go.
He recognizes that we fall. He also understands that God will help us get back up. We need to let him. We'll do that quicker if people aren't pounding fists on lecturns in our direction. Pope Benedict understands this. He demonstrates that patience that Hope instills.

We could learn from his example. We should.

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