Madonna House


by Catherine Doherty

Hope is a word little understood, although we use it often*. Yet, as our life unfolds, hope becomes elusive. We are almost afraid to believe in it, to hold it close, to use it as a compass of our life.

It gets dimmed with years and then when we need it most—in time of sickness, in time of pain, of sorrow, of old age, it seems to vanish. Perhaps this is because we have forgotten how to hope like children do, with the excited anticipation that good things as yet unseen will happen.

In these strange times, it almost appears as if hope has disappeared from the hearts of men. Perhaps this is because faith is being battered, decried on all sides.

Sometimes it seems as if the heart of man has become a punching bag for strange boxers to punch it in a thousand directions.

Faith is the mother of hope and of love. But love is being battered too. Now it is reduced to an almost animal level; now it is raised to an impossible level. Now love is twisted around and seems strangely to resemble the crucified Christ who is trying to change a little bit the terrible position in which he is nailed on a cross.

Man’s inhumanity to man that punches faith and tortures love, is reducing hope to a tiny pin-point, barely visible in the hearts of man.

Yes, hope seems to shrink to almost a pin-point in the hearts of men. But it needn’t! For we must remember that faith has been punched before. Love has been crucified, tortured, imprisoned, beaten down, but both have risen—risen with the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and so has hope.

Yes, so has hope. Let us who believe in the Resurrection stop being afraid. Let us stop worrying about the tomorrow which seems to shrink our hopes into nothingness.

The tomorrow is ours, as is today. If we fill it with the faith that resurrects hope and explodes love as the resurrection of Christ has truly done, then what is there to fear except our lack of courage?

This is the hour for us to truly arise and bring hope to the hopeless and enkindle faith in those who hear so many voices against it. And above all, let us allow our hearts to explode with that love that fills the Gospel with its deep, constant invitation.

This is the hour for the Christian to remember that he is “one who is sent,” even as the apostles were, for it is to all the laity in the world that Christ spoke when he said to go and preach the Gospel and baptize in his name, until the end of time.

For into our simple, ordinary hands has been given the answer to hopelessness, to loss of faith, to loss of love!

All we have to do is to implement the words of the Lord—”Go forth and preach the Gospel!”

People are hungry for the Gospel. They are waiting for it to be preached to them without compromise, so that hope might grow once more in their hearts.

Tomorrow, the day after, we may perhaps hear the breakup of our civilization, of our era. All kinds of dislocations, social, political, financial, may confront us.

But let us not forget that each one of us, each Christian, is a wedge that has been commissioned to enter into this land of despair and hopelessness, that might and probably will darken the minds of men, maybe tomorrow, maybe the day after.

It shouldn’t! It can’t! Because Christ is risen and so is hope, so is love, so is faith. Let us then do the seemingly impossible, remembering that Jesus is the Master of the impossible!

Let us become childlike, as he has asked us to be. Let us cry out with a loud voice: “Give me the heart of a child and the awesome courage to live it out as an adult.” Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen!

*The word “hope” is used in many ways but here Catherine uses it as the theological virtue that can be defined as “the confident expectation of divine blessing and the beatific vision of God, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the grace of the Holy Spirit.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church).

— Adapted from Restoration, April 1975