Suffering Absence in Hope of Presence

In an earlier post I recommended Benedict XVI's Encyclical, Spe Salvi, for Advent reading. But it is (in the Augustinian sense) a "weighty" and lengthy document.

In the meantime, one could hardly do better than meditate on John O'Callaghan's lovely reflection in the current Commonweal: "Her Dark Night." Here is the passage that most struck me:

Faith, in the sense of fidelity, is neither emotional stability nor anattitude to a set of propositions. It is an adherence of the will tosome good; it is constancy. No one has claimed that Teresa of Calcuttaever ceased to adhere to the object of her faith, whatever her mood,whatever her doubts. On the contrary, there is ample evidence that shestood fast from the day God first bound her to himself. The depth ofMother Teresas sense of abandonment would seem to be a measure of herlove-and of the strength of her initial union with God. From those towhom much has been given, much is demanded. It is no judgment on thoseof us to whom God has not granted such a sense of union that hisabsence doesnt cause us to suffer as much as it caused her to suffer.But it may be a judgment on us if, in our industriousness anddistraction, we do not feel that absence at all.

I suppose the Pope would only add: "faith, in the sense of hope." In such hope we find salvation: the promise of presence.

Robert P. Imbelli, a long-time Commonweal contributor, is a priest of the Archdiocese of New York. A book of essays in his honor, The Center Is Jesus Christ Himself, edited by Andrew Meszaros, was published this year by The Catholic University of America Press.

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