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The Message
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March 13, 1998     The Message
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March 13, 1998
 

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana How hope is restored By FATHER JOHN W. CROSSIN, O.S.ES. Catholic News Service How can hope be restored? Buffeted by the crises and disappointments of life, despairing of our most cherished dreams and aspira- tions, we walk through dark corridors with no hope. We who used to tread so vibrantly now proceed list- lessly. As we walk, we gaze outward with a forlorn and empty look. Our eyes focus without comprehension. We can look neither up toward the heavens nor down to the earth. We are drawn deep within. We focus on our darkness and our pain. Certain images repeat themselves again and again. Our minds rerun the same thoughts over and over as we seek to make sense of the difficult, the painful, the absurd. Obscure and dark emotions run" their wild way unchecked. How can hope be restored? Periods of darkness often have to run their course. There is no shortcut, for example, in the process of grief that brings gradual healing after the death of a loved one or after a major trauma in life. Healing takes time. Its cycle extends for months and years. The process often lasts longer than we would imagine. During this time the warmth of caring friends is all important. Friends help by listening to us with head and heart. They understand our distress. They feel what is going on inside us. They affirm that we are still lov- able despite our hurts, our failures and our shattered ideals. The presence of caring friends brings light into our darkness. If only for a brief moment, they begin to break the ceaseless inner cycle of self-absorption. They divert our darkest feelings to brighter ways. They help us to look out at the real world. Their con- tinued presence helps us to heal. With them, we can begin to see clearly. As a young man, St. Francis de Sales had a profound crisis of faith. This crisis persisted for weeks. He thought he would be damned for eternity. He found hope again in prayer. At a critical moment, praying in Paris before a statue of Mary known as the Black Madonna, he gave him- self completely to God. The cri- sis resolved. Later, he became known as one of the most opti- mistic of saints. Prayer is a key to hope. In prayer, we enter into a special relationship with God, often through the good example and intercession of the saints. In prayer, we are present to God. This may mean our silent, wordless presence in a chapel or church. We may not have Oblate Father John W. Crossin shares two key ways hope can be restored: "Friends help by listening to us with head and heart .... Prayer is a key to hope," he says, adding, "but we do not return to every- thing just as it once was. We have changed. Our restored hope is different. It is deeper." _ wCNS photo by Bill Wittman the spiritual energy to act, to speak or to think at all. Yet our presence is enough. God knows our hearts.  Our unique friendship with God sustains us in hope. The inner obstacles to hope -- our disquieting thoughts and feel- ings  quite often surface in our times of prayer and can be offered to Christ for healing. Gradually we come to realize that disappointment and death may bring us to healing and strength. Here the paradox of the cross becomes part of our real knowledge. As St. Paul said, it is when we are weak that we are strong. As we struggle with thoughts and feelings deep with- in, our vision of eternity clouds over and our work for others diminishes. In prayer and with the help of friends, our vision of the eternal reign becomes clear once again. And our concern for others returns. But we do not return to everything just as it once was. We have changed. Our restored hope is different. It is deeper. We now have a more realistic earth and for eternity. Not without agement and disasters does hope orl for heaven. We encounter the eternal reign by' ing, life's disillusionments. The of the church and all its members, become a means to holiness, not to can propel us toward sanctity, to Se, What to do while awaiting hope By FATHER EUGENE LAVERDIERE, S.S.S. Catholic News Service Hope can be elusive. It can also be dose at hand, but not always recognizable. As good news, the Gospel is a message of hope. To speak of the Gospel is to speak of hope. To speak of hope is to speak of the Gospel. At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus spelled out his mission and ministry of hope with prophetic words from Isaiah: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings (gospel) to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord" (Luke 4:18- 19; see Isaiah 61:1-2a). To recognize Jesus" words as a Gospel of hope we first have to recognize that in many ways we are the poor that he spoke of in that passage. God alone is truly rich. We are also the captives, driven by lust, envy and avarice. We really need to be freed. Jesus was sent to free the captives. In many ways we are also blind. We do not see that human beings are the image of God. And we are the oppressed, enslaved by our own cravings and ambitions. Many people experience feelings of hopelessness. For them, Jesus' words in the synagogue at Nazareth open a door to hope. When we turn to ourselves to find hope and depend on our own efforts, we find only discouragement and ultimate- ly despair. Many New Testament passages inspire hope. Think of the thanksgiving passages found at the beginning of Paul's letters. In the Letter to the Philippians, for exam- ple, Paul begins by saying, "I give thanks to my God at every remembrance of you, praying always with joy in my every prayer for all of you" (1:3). In reading those words, keep in mind that when people are hopeless, they do not pray. Prayer presupposes hope. Prayer is an expression of hope. Paul was sharing his deepest feel- ings with the Christians at Philippi. In that, he was completely selfless. He was thinking of the Christians there; he also was thinking of God and of grace. Paul speaks in this verse about his prayer to God, which was a prayer of thanksgiving. All those sentiments on Paul's part came from hope. In sharing his prayer of thanksgiving, Paul offers a lot for us to meditate upon in this verse (Phil 1:3) and in the passage that follows it (Phil 1:3-11). When we are discouraged and feel hopeless, we can turn to Paul and think of the things for which God. When we do hopelessness are .... of hope. Father 7Verdiere is a