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February 27, 1998     The Message
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February 27, 1998

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana , 9 .... ;4 : that even thrives in impossible situations By MARY MILLER PEDERSEN family of God's "family album," there Catholic News Service soap operas have in corn- tale after tale about cheating hearts, gone wrong and hopeless situa- music and soap operas to crisis and personal tragedy. pain, loss or disappointment of been on the brink of giving up who has gone astra34 a job that a marriage partner who con- an illness that changes lives coping" has become Bookstores and speakers' With experts on coping with situa- hopeless• these resources on how to deal side is the famous "positive-think- cassette and speaker• The g is based on our ability to by modifying our own hope adds up to much more thinking. Instead, hope is a t ee. Hope zsn t just a men- a learned habit. Hope is a virtue. ust any virtue. It is one of three the- es from God. goes beyond optimism alone or is based on a deep-rooted and z God's providence. on our own power to change our 3od made with us. ROmans says it well: "Hope does God's love has been poured the Holy Spirit who has been given s addiction will be healed, will be spared in the brush fires will find a job. these ordinary everyday events Volved intimately in our everyday fUels the fire of hope in our hearts When we look at Scripture, the is story after story about God's faith- fulness and God's overcome our limitations. Moses, who was minding his own business just trying to keep his father-ino law's sheep safe and well fed, was called by God to lead a nation of people. What an unexpected challenge for Moses! "Who am I that I should gotto Pharaoh?" was his response. But God was with him through every frog-and fly-bitten plague. "Hoping against hope, he believed and thus became the father of many nations" (Romans 4:18). In the New Testament, there is Mary, who was caught completely off guard when asked to be the mother of Jesus. Her response was similar to that of Moses: "How can this be? I don't even have a husband?" In Mary's story we see how God deals with what humans see as impos- sible situations• This is why we can have hope in the face of impossible tasks, unexpected obstacles and dangerous situations• We can hope for good weather for the crops if we are farming or for peace among Palestinians and Jews• We can have hope because our God has such a long record of being there for us. God's covenant with us is the source of our hope. So, what does living by the virtue of ....... hope mean? It means placing our lives in the hands of God, who saves us. Living by the virtue of hope means living as Jesus did, with absolute con- fidence in the Father's gracious love. And that's not easy in a world full of hopeless situations. That's why we need to stick togeth- er with others who can buoy up our spirits when our hope runs thin. That's why it's not enough for us simply to have hope. We are called to be bearers of hope to others. ......... .......... ...... biscussion Point: "" One type of situation -- in which Christian hope sustains you. Readers: shelter, and sometimes it's difficult to see hope in the fam- here. But my faith in the Lord helps me sustain a sense and in this work. Without that faith and hope I couldn't work !ii ¸ ! : i !: "For Christians, however, hope adds up to much more than the power of positive thinking. Instead, hope is a firm belief in what we cannot see," explains Mary Miller Pedersen. "Hope is a virtue.., based on a deep-rooted and time-tested belief in God's providence." CNS photo by Michael Hoyt When my mother was diagnosed with cancer and throughout her treatment, she never lost hope. But after her surgeries and months of weight loss and sick- ness, I began to lose hope. My friends brought din- ner to us, put our family on the prayer chain and sent me encouraging notes. These friends were a sign for me that God -- Jean Wright, Hoyle, Mass. is a feeling of peace in situations, that God is right us through, whatever the difficul .ty is." Aline Lynch, Wilmington, Del. and we deal with a lot of situations of child abuse. Catholicism helps me to look ahead with hope, with a sense of is having a positive effect." Bruno Finocchario, Sioux City, Iowa • •. had stopped coming to church. Through prayer, they . hope that my two remaining children will also one •  lsabeUe Cunnane, Tulsa, Okla. asks: What action or words played a key role in healing a you? publication, please write: Faith Alive! 3211 Fourth 1100. loved us, had not abandoned us, and was sustaining us despite the darkness. This is what we can confidently hope for! This is what has been promised. The great spiritual writer Julian of Norwich, who lived through plagues and wars in medieval England, sums it up in her little mantra: "All will be well; all will be well; all manner of things will be well." That might make a nice little song, don't you think? Christian hope goes beyond optimism and positive thinking because it acknowledges, and it also mani- fests, the power of God at work in our lives. Pedersen is coordinator of the Lazdership in Family Life Training Program for the Archdiocese of Omaha, Neb. i I'd say this about the virtue of hope: Even "if" we could survive without it, we couldn't thrive without it. Our well-being is tied to hope. It's a serious situation, then, when hope retreats from anyone's life. But what is hope? And what is it not? I'm pretty certain that hope is not a basis for inaction in the face of real prob- lems. Hope doesn't provide a reason for thinking, "Shucks, everything will work out in the end; my efforts won't matter." Instead, hope draws out the best in us, whether in a particular situation that means our love, our problem-solv- ing skill, our hard work or our prayer. Pope John Paul II envisioned two reasons to focus on hope during 1998. First, with hope we keep life's ultimate goal in mind; thus we can see life's "meaning and value." Second, hope gives us "profound reasons" for making the commitment to transform our world. Hope is a dynamic force. Maybe that's why hope has been linked with the Holy Spirit. For the Spirit is a dynamic force empowering us to act coura- geously when it matters, enlightening our judgment and enab us to give direction to life. David Gibson Editor, Faith Alive!