The Gift of Hope: Weekly Message for 03-08-2022

Dear Friends in Christ,

Faith, Hope, and Love abide, these three… (1 Corinthians 13:13)

In his Ballad of Reading Gaol, Oscar Wilde offered a pithy diagnosis:

We did not dare to breathe a prayer
Or give our anguish scope
Something was dead in each of us
And what was dead was Hope.”

In our world there are many hopes: hopes for better houses and better cars and better jobs, hopes for health and eradication of illness, hope for happiness. These hopes are not wrong. But if they are not anchored in the great Hope, then in the end they are not enough. They wither and die. 

In his magnificent encyclical Saved in Hope, Pope Benedict XVI recalled the life of Blessed Josephine Bakhita, an enslaved Sudanese girl who suffered horrific trauma. When she discovered Christianity she discovered a new hope, a hope not bound by the circles of this world. As Pope Benedict put it, “Now she had “hope” —no longer simply the modest hope of finding masters who would be less cruel, but the great hope: ‘I am definitively loved and whatever happens to me—I am awaited by this Love. And so my life is good.’” 

I am definitively loved, and whatever happens to me – I am awaited by this Love… And so my life is good. This is the theological virtue of hope, by which we desire God, our great Hope, above all else. Each Christian has received this hope at baptism; the Lord invites us to exercise it. And Lent is an especially apt moment to do precisely that.

Every time we pray, we exercise hope. We are placing our hope not in immediate results but in our great Hope, in the living God who loves us and hears us and is always acting for our good. 

Every time we fast, we exercise hope. We are praying with our bodies, telling the Lord that we long for him more than we long for the good things of this world. 

Every time we show mercy to others (the true meaning of the word “almsgiving”), we exercise hope. We are sharing the Lord’s desire that all be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4): often through ways known only to him.  

As we pray, as we fast, and as we show mercy this Lent, perhaps these words from St Paul provide a fitting inspiration: “Hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5).

May God bless you with the gift of hope this Lent,

Fr. John Pietropaoli, LC

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