New Encyclical Soon

The blogosphere had several mentions today of Pope Benedict XVI's third encyclical, Caritas in veritate, which is expected to be released this week.

I've just read Benedict's homily for first vespers of Peter and Paul at La Buhardilla, and it read to me as though this homily may be a sort of introduction to, or preparation for, the encyclical. Here is my translation of select paragraphs of the homily:

The same thought of the necessity of our renovation as a human person, Paul subsequently illustrated in two paragraphs of the Letter to the Ephesians, on which we will now briefly reflect. In the fourth chapter of the Letter, the apostle says that with Christ we have reached adulthood, a mature humanity. We cannot remain "children, tossed back and forth and carried about with every wind of doctrine" (4:14). Paul wants Christians to have a "responsible" faith, an "adult" faith. The word "adult faith" in the last decades has become a diffuse slogan. It is often in the sense of the attitude of one who does not listen to the Church and its pastors, but has autonomously chosen what they want to believe and not believe--that is to say, a faith "by oneself". This is interpreted as "valiance", expressing oneself against the Magisterium of the Church. In reality, this is not necessarily valiance, because you can always be secure in public applause. In contrast valiance is necessary to join the faith of the Church, including if this contradicts the "scheme" of the contemporary world. It is this "non-conformism" of the faith that Paul calls an "adult faith". Scores change as infants, running after the winds and the currents of the time. Thus part of the adult faith, for example, is commitment to the inviolability of human life from the first moment of conception, opposition to this radical form of the principle of violence, precisely in defence of the more vulnerable human creatures. Part of the adult faith is to recognize that marriage between one man and one woman for all their life was ordained by the Creator, and newly re-established by Christ. Adult faith is not transported one place and another by any current. It objects to the winds of fashion. It knows that these winds are not the murmur of the Holy Spirit; it knows that the Spirit of God is expressed and is manifested in communion with Jesus Christ. But Paul does not stop with negation, but leads us to a grand "yes". He describes mature faith in a positive way with the expression: "rather, speaking the truth in love" (cf Eph 4:15). The new mode of thought, that gives us the faith, is develop first to truth. The power of evil is the lie. The power of the faith, the power of God, is the truth. The truth about the world and about ourselves becomes visible when we look at God. And God is visible to us in the face of Jesus Christ. Looking to Christ we recognize one thing more: truth and charity are inseparable. In God, both are one thing: this is precisely the essence of God. For this reason, for Christians truth and charity go in unity. Charity is the test of truth. Always we have to be measured according to this criterion, that the truth is transformed into charity and we are made true.

Another important thought appears in the verse of St Paul. The apostle says to us that, acting according to the truth in charity, contributes to making all--the universe--grow toward Christ. Paul, on the basis of his faith, is not interested only in our personal rectitude or in the increase of the Church. He is interested in the universe: "ta panta". The final end of the work of Christ is the universe--the transformation of the universe, of all the human world, of the entire creation. Who together with Christ serves truth in charity, contributes to the true progress of the world. Yes, it is completely clear that Paul knew the idea of progress. Christ, his life, suffering and resurrection, has been the true giant leap of progress for humanity, for the world. Now, in change, the universe has to grow towards Him. Where the presence of Christ is augmented, here is the true progress of the world. Here man is new and thus is transformed a new world.

Let us pray to the Lord, that he will help us recognize something of the enormity of his love. Pray that his love and his truth touch our heart. Ask that Christ live in our hearts and make us new men, who act according to the truth in charity. Amen.

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