Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Deus Caritas Est - January 25th!

That's right folks. B16's first Papal Encyclical will be coming out on January 25th, one week today! This is exciting as we have been waiting quite a while, for it was finished before the Advent Season began. According to B16, it's been translated and ready for full distribution that day. Needless to say, I see the Vatican website getting many many more hits then usual that day. I will be buying it in printed format, because I can't stand reading off my computer screen, and I like to write in the margings.

Here are the words from his Holiness:

In this connection and with these sentiments, next Wednesday, January 25, feast of the conversion of the Apostle to the Gentiles, I shall follow in the footsteps of Pope John Paul II to the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls to pray with Orthodox and Protestant brothers: to pray in thanksgiving for what the Lord has granted us; to pray that the Lord may guide us on the paths of unity.

On that same day, January 25, moreover, my first encyclical will finally be published, the title of which is already known, "Deus Caritas Est," "God Is Love." The topic is not directly ecumenical, but the framework and background are ecumenical, as God and our love are the condition for the unity of Christians. They are the condition for peace in the world.

With this encyclical I would like to show the concept of love in its different dimensions. Today, in the terminology that it is known, "love" often seems something very remote from what a Christian thinks when he speaks of charity. I would like to show that it is one movement with different dimensions.

The "eros," the gift of love between man and woman, comes from the same source of the Creator's goodness, as well as the possibility of a love that denies itself in favor of the other. The "eros" is transformed in "agape" in the measure in which the two really love one another and one no longer seeks oneself, one's enjoyment, one's happiness, but seeks above all the good of the other. In this way, the "eros" is transformed in charity, in a path of purification, of deepening. From one's family one opens wide to the larger family of society, to the family of the Church, to the family of the world.

I also try to show that the totally personal act that comes to us from God is a unique act of love. It must also be expressed as an ecclesial, organizational act. If it is really true that the Church is the expression of God's love, of that love that God has for his human creature, it must also be true that the fundamental act of faith, which creates and unites the Church and gives us the hope of eternal life and of the presence of God in the world, engenders an ecclesial act. In other words, the Church, including as Church, as community, must love in an institutional manner.

And this "Caritas" is not a mere organization, as other philanthropic organizations, but a necessary expression of the profound act of personal love with the God who has created us, awakening in our hearts the thrust to love, reflection of God-Love, that his image makes us.

Time has passed before the text was ready and translated. Now the fact that it will be published precisely on the day in which we pray for the unity of Christians seems a gift of Providence. I hope it might illuminate and help our Christian life.

Yes folks, this is indeed exciting news. It seems like it'll definitely be a worthy read.


No comments: