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Sanctorum Communio

Appropriately for this liturgical season, my graduate seminar has been reading Joseph Ratzinger's great work, Eschatology: Death and Eternal Life. Here is a passage:

In all human love there is an implicit appeal to eternity, even though love between two human beings can never satisfy that appeal. In Christ, God enters our search for love and its ultimate meaning, and does so in a human way. God's dialogue with us becomes truly human, since God conducts his part as man. Conversely, the dialogue of human beings with each other now becomes a vehicle for the life everlasting, since in the communion of saints it is drawn up into the dialogue of the Trinity itself.This is why the communion of saints is the locus where eternity becomes accessible for us. Eternal life does not isolate a person, but leads him or her out of isolation into true unity with their brothers and sisters and the whole of God's creation.

About the Author

Rev. Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is Associate Professor of Theology Emeritus at Boston College.



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What a lovely passage to encounter today - thank you for posting this.

I love this triduum for many reasons and find nearly sll such reflections helpful. It's obviously quite Augustinian as well and rings true. Yet... "pontificating" (chosen word even pre- Benedict's pontificate) on some dimensions of human love and longing, incompleteness and vulnerability, and intensity and satiation may be as well or-- dare I say it -- even more accurately described by those who have choen to attempt that within a committed relationship. This is not to say that celibates have nothing to share with such persons as has often been the charge as as I was likewise challenged in years in clibate priesthood. Yet I know my married relationship, with all its joys and struggles, has brought me to greater insights into both my sinfulness and my "love-ableness" in ways that a very, very satisfying andloving 15 years in active ministry could not for me. This is to say that some of the theological anguage masks other dimensions of the non-rational intellect that might understand this in an experiential way and reflects the inevitable, I beleive, divide that a celibate relationship with God and a committed relational relationship with God offer parallel tracks with learnings to be shared but must recognize that one can never truly speak accuratly for the other.

C. S. Lewis says, in A Grief Observed,

Talk to me about the truth of religion and I'll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I'll listen submissively. But don't come talking to me about the consolation of religion or I shall suspect that you don't understand.Unless, of course, you can literally believe all that stuff about family reunions "on the further shore," pictured in entirely earthly terms. But that is all unscriptural, all out of bad hymns and lithographs. There's not a word of it in the Bible. And it rings false. We know it couldn't be like that. Reality never repeats. The exact same thing is never taken away and given back. How well the Spiritualists bait their hook! "Things on the other side are not so different after all." There are cigars in Heaven. For that is what we should all like. The happy past restored. . . .. . . Why should the separation (if nothing else) which so agonizes the lover who is left behind be painless to the lover who departs?"Because she is in God's hands." But if so, she was in God's hands all the time, and I have seen what they did to her here. Do they suddenly become gentler to us the moment we are out of the body? And if so, why? If God's goodness is inconsistent with hurting us, then either God is not good or there is no God: for in the only life we know He hurts us beyond our worst fears and beyond all we can imagine. If it is consistent with hurting us, then he may hurt us after death as unendurably as before it.

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