"12. ...The term 'eternal life' is intended to give a name to this known 'unknown'. Inevitably it is an inadequate term that creates confusion. 'Eternal', in fact, suggests to us the idea of something interminable, and this frightens us; 'life' makes us think of the life that we know and love and do not want to lose, even though very often it brings more toil than satisfaction, so that while on the one hand we desire it, on the other hand we do not want it.
"To imagine ourselves outside the temporality that imprisons us and in some way to sense that eternity is not an unending succession of days in the calendar, but something more like the supreme moment of satisfaction, in which totality embraces us and we embrace totality—this we can only attempt. It would be like plunging into the ocean of infinite love, a moment in which time—the before and after—no longer exists. We can only attempt to grasp the idea that such a moment is life in the full sense, a plunging ever anew into the vastness of being, in which we are simply overwhelmed with joy. This is how Jesus expresses it in Saint John's Gospel: 'I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you' (16:22). We must think along these lines if we want to understand the object of Christian hope...."
(Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi)
Tristitia vestra convertetur in gaudium.
Your sorrow will be turned into joy. (John 16:20)
Again, eternal life consists of the joyous community of all the blessed, a community of supreme delight, since everyone will share all that is good with all the blessed. Everyone will love everyone else as himself, and therefore will rejoice in another’s good as in his own. So it follows that the happiness and joy of each grows in proportion to the joy of all. (St Thomas Aquinas, Collatio super Credo in Deum)
Do everything unselfishly, for pure love, as if there were neither reward nor punishment. But in your heart foster the glorious hope of heaven. (St Josemaría, The Way, 668)
"It is good to recognize one's weakness because in this way we know that we stand in need of the Lord's grace. The Lord comforts us. In the Apostolic College there was not only Judas but also the good Apostles; yet, Peter fell and many times the Lord reprimanded the Apostles for their slowness, the closure of their hearts and their scant faith. He therefore simply shows us that none of us is equal to this great yes, equal to celebrating "in persona Christi", to living coherently in this context, to being united to Christ in his priestly mission.
"To console us, the Lord has also given us these parables of the net with the good fish and the bad fish, of the field where wheat but also tares grow. He makes us realize that he came precisely to help us in our weakness, and that he did not come, as he says, to call the just, those who claim they are righteous through and through and are not in need of grace, those who pray praising themselves; but he came to call those who know they are lacking, to provoke those who know they need the Lord's forgiveness every day, that they need his grace in order to progress.
"I think this is very important: to recognize that we need an ongoing conversion, that we are simply not there yet. St Augustine, at the moment of his conversion, thought he had reached the heights of life with God, of the beauty of the sun that is his Word. He then had to understand that the journey after conversion is still a journey of conversion, that it remains a journey where the broad perspectives, joys and lights of the Lord are not absent; but nor are dark valleys absent through which we must wend our way with trust, relying on the goodness of the Lord.
"Therefore, also the Sacrament of Reconciliation is important. It is not correct to think we must live like this, so that we are never in need of pardon. We must accept our frailty but keep on going, not giving up but moving forward and becoming converted ever anew through the Sacrament of Reconciliation for a new start, and thus grow and mature in the Lord by our communion with him.
"It is also important of course not to isolate oneself, not to believe one is capable of going ahead alone. We truly need the company of priest friends and also lay friends who accompany and help us. It is very important for a priest, in the parish itself, to see how people trust in him and to experience in addition to their trust also their generosity in pardoning his weaknesses. True friends challenge us and help us to be faithful on our journey. It seems to me that this attitude of patience and humility can help us to be kind to others, to understand the weaknesses of others and also help them to forgive as we forgive.
"I think I am not being indiscrete if I say that today I received a beautiful letter from Cardinal Martini: I had congratulated him on his 80th birthday - we are the same age; in thanking me he wrote: "I thank the Lord above all for the gift of perseverance. Today", he writes, "good is done rather ad tempus, ad experimentum. Good, in accordance with its essence, can only be done definitively; but to do it definitively we need the grace of perseverance. I pray each day", he concluded, "that the Lord will grant me this grace".
"I return to St Augustine: at first he was content with the grace of conversion; then he discovered the need for another grace, the grace of perseverance, one which we must ask the Lord for each day; but since - I return to what Cardinal Martini said - "the Lord has given me the grace of perseverance until now, I hope he will also give it to me in the last stage of my journey on this earth".
"It seems to me that we must have trust in this gift of perseverance, but we must also pray to the Lord with tenacity, humility and patience to help and sustain us with the gift of true "definitiveness", and to accompany us day after day to the very end, even if our way must pass through dark valleys.
"The gift of perseverance gives us joy, it gives us the certainty that we are loved by the Lord, and this love sustains us, helps us and does not abandon us in our weakness."
(Benedict XVI, Dialogue With Seminarians of the Roman Major Seminary, 17 February 2007)
Bonum est nobis perseverare in desiderio,
donec veniat quod promissum est,
et transeat gemitus,
succedat sola laudatio.
(St Augustine, Enarrationes in Psalmis)
18* I consider that the sufferings of this present time
are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
19* For the creation waits with eager longing
for the revealing of the sons of God;
20* for the creation was subjected to futility,
not of its own will
but by the will of him who subjected it in hope;
21* because the creation itself will be set free
from its bondage to decay
and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God.
22* We know that the whole creation
has been groaning in travail together until now;
23* and not only the creation,
but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit,
groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons,
the redemption of our bodies.
24* For in this hope we were saved.
Now hope that is seen is not hope.
For who hopes for what he sees?
25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.