Ad Te Levavi and Spe Salvi

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An Introit and an Encyclical

There is an immense hope in the liturgy of the First Sunday of Advent, making it perfectly consonant with Spe Salvi, the Encyclical given us by Pope Benedict XVI on the feast of Saint Andrew. Today’s Introit, Ad te levavi, is a great sweep upward and away from all that would hold bound our hope. The Introit, resonating with Spe Salvi, sets the tone, not only for this the first Mass of Advent, but also for the rest of the Advent season and, indeed, for the whole new liturgical year. “To you, my God, I lift up my soul” (Ps 24:1) or, as Ronald Knox translated it, “All my heart goes out to my God.”

Breaking Down the Encyclical

As I prayed over it early this morning, the Holy Father’s Encyclical became for me a theological commentary on the implications of today’s Introit and, indeed, on all the liturgy of Advent. Fortified by several cups of strong coffee, I attempted to condense Spe Salvi into 52 propositions or, if you will, subtitles. I share them as a way of inviting you to take the Encyclical in hand, and to study it, meditate it, pray it, and be changed by it during this Advent Season.

Own It and Read It

The Encyclical has 50 articles. There are 24 days in Advent this year. Here is your Advent program: 2 articles of the Encyclical each day, and on one day of your choice, 3. Every Catholic should have his own copy of the Encyclical. Don’t be cheap. Don’t be stingy. Buy the text of the Encyclical or download a copy off the Internet and then make photocopies. One copy of the Encyclical cost less than the daily newspaper. Looking for an Advent penance? Give up reading the newspaper — or cut down your online time — during Advent and study Spe Salvi instead. It will be salutary for your soul.

Here are the 52 propositions:

1. Hope Allows Us to Face the Present

2. One Who Hopes Lives Differently

3. Saint Josephine Bakhita: The Discovery of Being Loved

4. This Valley of Tears, This Exile of Ours

5. God, the Framer of the Stars (Conditor Alme Siderum)
and the Ruler of the Cosmos

6. Christ: Both the Way and the Truth

7. Christ With Us In the Valley of the Final Solitude, Death

8. Living the Present in the Dawning Light of the Future

9. What Saint Francis Teaches Us: A Future Worth the Risk of the Present

10. Learning How to Wait in Power and Love and Self-Control

11. Baptism: Eternal Life After Death

12. Praying for Happiness

13. Plunged Into the Life of God

14. Representations of Our Hope: Imaging Heaven

15. Happiness: From “I” to “We”

16. Saint Bernard’s Monastic Life: A School of Living and Working Together,
Or The Conversion From “I” to “We” and From “Me” to “Us”

17. The False Hope Held Out by the Scientific Method

18. The Privatization of Religion: Keep Your Hope to Yourself

19. Reason and Freedom

20. The French Revolution:
Reason and Freedom,
Kant Announces the End of the Church

21. Marx: The End of Bourgeois Society

22. Marx Forgets Man’s Freedom

23. Progress in Evil: Things Get Worse As They Get Better

24. Reason and Faith: We need God, Or
the Godless Are Hopeless and the Hopeless Godless

25. Freedom and Convictions Held in Common:
When the Church Speaks Her Hope, Our Hope

26. Man Not Redeemed by Science

27. Man Redeemed by the Love Revealed in Christ Jesus

28. Without God, Without Hope

29. Loved by Christ Who Died for All Impels One to Live for all

30. Augustine the Philosopher Lives for Himself;
Augustine the Bishop Is Compelled to Preach and Act
in a Simple Way for Simple People

31. The Despair of Having Hope for a Future Generation but Not for Me

32. The Hope that Comes From God With A Human Face

33. Prayer and Hope

34. The Prayer That Dilates the Heart’s Capacity

35. The Prayer That Purifies the Heart

36. Hope and Merit: Opening Oneself to the Gift of God

37. Suffering: Only God Can Take Away Sin, the Source of Suffering

38. Christ with Man in Hell, the Witness of Saint Paul Le-Bao-Tinh (+1837)

39. Consolation : Being with the Other in his Solitude

40. God With Man in His Suffering:
God Cannot Suffer in Himself but He Can Suffer With Another

41. Offering Up

42. Judgment: The Hour of Justice and A Reason to Hope

43. When Man Waits for Justice From Man:
When Manmade Justice Becomes the Tomb of Hope

44. Man Made for Eternity:
The Triumph of God’s Justice and a Reason to Hope

45. Grace and Justice: Turning Our Gaze to the Crucified and Risen Christ

46. Purgatory, Hell, and Heaven

47. The Fire of Purifying Love: Purgatory

48. The Purifying Gaze of Christ

49. Justice and Grace: Christ our Paraclete, our Advocate, our Hope

50. The Souls in Purgatory: Never too Late

51. Ave Maris Stella: Mary Our Star
and the Saints, Other Stars in Our Night

52. Spes Nostra, Salve:
A Prayer to Mary, Star of Hope

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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