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February 27, 1998     The Message
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February 27, 1998

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8 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana -1 What hope really is By FATHER JOHN W. CROSSIN, O.S.ES. Catholic News Service Some people seem naturally hopeful. To them, a glass of water is always half full, their drive from the tee will land a few inches from the cup and the possi- bilities for the future appear endless. For others the glass is half-empty, the drive will land in the sand-trap and the future is obscured by many obstacles. "Hope springs eternal" is a wise pop- ular saying. People want to be hopeful in spite of their predisposition to pes- simism. For Christians, hope is both a natural disposition and a virtue. The virtue of hope comes into our hearts with the Holy Spirit's arrival. In baptism, as we receive the Holy Spirit, we begin  the journey of hope. -- Christian hope is a gift. This gift comes from God. We nourish it in personal and communal prayer. Our deepest potential for hope develops only gradually as we grow spiritually. Yet over time, even a pessimistic personal disposition can yield to the fire of the Spirit's hope. Hope orients us to the future. Our heavenly home beckons us. But in many ways the "future is now." We already share, modestly to be sure, in the life of the Spirit, the life of eternity. This grace orients us to our ultimate destiny and empowers us to act in the present moment. Hope is a spiritual energy; it pro- pels us into the future. Hope pulls us out of ourselves. This virtue urges us to positive acts of goodness toward our neighbor. A cheery good morning, an expression of concern for the sick or our attentive listening to a colleague can express our hope. A host of small actions can show a hopeful atti- tude. Hope brings us into solidarity with others daily. Hope persists despite our disabilities. Oblate Father John Crossin observes that, because each of us is weak, "we need others to accomodate our weak- ness. Yet we also live in hope." CNS Each of us is weak. We are deficient in many ways. We have our "blue Mon- days" or our "blue anydays." Physical burdens discourage us. We fear being dependent. We need others to accom- modate our weakness. Yet we also live in hope. Progress is always possible. And, interestingly enough, our personal limitations can make our solidarity with others in need quite real. Our hope despite our weak- nesses may enable others to hope as well. For example, an alcoholic now in recovery is often the most powerful wit- ness to hope for the person still strug- gling with alcoholism. Long ago, St. Paul taught that when Christians are weak they are strong. It is precisely in our weakness that we are best able to put our talents at God's ser- vice. For then we realize that hope ulti- mately is in God. Such a hopeful person embraces sub- stantive projects for the good of others. He or she seeks to change the neighbor- hood, the city, civil society and even the whole country -- and doesn't take "no" for an answer. Hopeful people see that the reign of God begins now and requires intensive effort. While this world will never be heaven, it can be bet- ter with God's help. Thus we see hopefol business practices, homeless, fighting and caring for Hopeful people is not our works can Hopeful of darkness. light enables Oblate Father Crossin at the Woodstock Georgetown University. "Friendship: published by How the Mass soeaks of hooe ............... ........ ............. ..................... .... ....................... . ................ By FATHER LAWRENCE E. MICK N The Fh'st Letter of Peter (3:15) clllenges us to "always be ready to give an expla- nation to anyone who asks you for a rea- son for your hope." It is good that the church's liturgy reg- ularly reminds us of the solid reasons for being people of hope -- especially on those difficult days when we might be asking ourselves what the reasons are! Two fundamental rease for our hope are ]ected in the li Recall that the litur- gical year's two major cycles of celebration are Lent/Easter and Advent/Christmas. Lent/Easter celebrates Christ's death and resurrection, and the promise that we will share in his resurrected life. This gives us hope on two levels: m It assures us that whatever pain and suffering we endure, in the end we will share Christ's life eternally. w It reminds us that what feels like death in daily life often leads us to new life. We experience many smaller resur- rections, constantly reminding us of the ultimate resurrection. And Christmas, celebrating Christ's coming into the world at Bethlehem, offers visible evidence of God's love for the world. Christ's first coming also reminds us that he promised to come again. This is a powerful basis for hope, based on the confidence that Christ's promises can be trusted. Actually, these two mysteries also are reflected in every celebration of the Eucharist. In the midst of the Eucharis- tic Prayer, we recall Christ's death and resurrection, and anticipate his second coming: "Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again." The two reasons for our hope are placed side by side in that brief acclamatio A few moments later in the Eucharist, we join in the Lord's Prayer, praying for the coming of God's kingdom in its fullness: 'q'hy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." The kingdom has come into the world through Jesus, but we wait and hope for its completion. Then, before the concluding doxology to the Lord's Prayer ("For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours"), the priest expands on the petition for deliver- ance from evil and speaks of our hope, saying: "Deliver us, Lord, from every evil, and grant us peace .... Keep us free from sin, and protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior." So, if anyone asks the reason for our hope, the liturgy teaches us how to reply. It is because Christ came to live among us and will come again. We us that stronger than gives us life Father Mick is a Cincinnati, Ohio. i : i