Hope's Battle

Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” What a great line from an amazing film “The Shawshank Redemption,” 1994.
The story portrays how authentic friendships can help us persevere in times of trial.  In today’s Catholic Church, for example, we need hope - and lots of it.

Friendship with Christ is the Source of Hope

More than we realize, the Lord is opening up opportunity after opportunity for us to enter into friendship - not just with others, but with him.  The kind of friendship where you have found someone who knows you deeply, someone you can trust, who cares about you, listens to and spends time with you and working all things out with mutual support and cooperation. What they have to share with us matters because we have become convinced that they have our best interest at heart. They, more than anyone else, want us to be able to reach our hopes and dreams, becoming who we are meant to be.  Jesus wants all this through daily, heart-to-heart dialogue, where we are aware of what is happening inside and around us, so we can open up, ask for help and accept his healing graces and blessings for strength. 

It gets to the point where what Jesus thinks of us, and what he wants for us, matters more than anything else.  The conversion process, our journey of spiritual growth, brings about this authentic, life-giving relationship with a living person who gives us hope to keep moving forward, despite the obstacles.  In this friendship, Jesus invites us trust in him, and in trusting him we let mercy into the battlefield of our hearts, minds and souls.  Friendship with Jesus offers courage to embrace the truth about God, ourselves, what is good and what this life is all about. Friendship with Jesus and living in his truth set us free to be completely transformed by love and totally available for helping others do the same.

Becoming The Diocese of The Little Way

This love that comes from our relationship with Christ is the only way for us to truly become “the Diocese of The Little Way,” building amazing parishes and forming intentional disciples, where everything is rooted in prayer.  Love is the way we will be able to stay focused on and make key decisions about what matters most, leaving other distractions aside.  This includes things like communicating more clearly with everyone in the diocese, so that there is more trust, more people playing their part and more hope to keep going strong. The Catholic Pastoral Center has been going through its own process of renewal so that all of our staff and structures are better serving the mission we all share together.  This is similar to how the pope is asking for reform in how Vatican officials are set up to serve The Joy of the Gospel all across the globe. 

The tools and principles of “The Amazing Parish” are encouraging our bishop and pastors to have a cohesive leadership team that bears the burden of responsibility for making the right decisions and getting the best results, with everyone well-informed and pitching in to get the job done.  It keeps our focus on the three building blocks of a culture of prayer, a culture of healthy teamwork and a culture of active discipleship. To that end, “Forming Intentional Disciples” is allowing us to see more clearly where each of us is at in taking steps necessary for more fully committing our lives to Jesus Christ, along with helping others to do the same, making our parishes come alive as centers of hope and healing.  Every community of faith throughout our territory should be highly focused on helping people to accept and be transformed by God’s love as the answer to our deepest aches and longings.

How to Maintain a Hopeful Outlook

Father Jacques Philippe, renowned author/speaker and spiritual friend of our dear sister, Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, says in Interior Freedom: “The essence of Christian spiritual combat is, with the strength of faith, to maintain a hopeful outlook on every situation, on ourselves, on other people, on the Church and the world.  Such an outlook enables us to react to every situation by loving.” 

To better equip ourselves, here are three recommendations for where to begin:

  1. Prayerfully read the Catechism of the Catholic Church on Hope (no. 1817 to 1821)
  2. Study the papal encyclical on Hope (Spe Salvi, 30 November 2007)
  3. Offer to God the Act of Hope:

O my God, relying on your infinite mercy and promises, I hope to obtain pardon of my sins, the help of your grace, and life everlasting, through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer.  Amen.

Let’s do whatever it takes to stoke the fires of hope for the long – yet exciting – road ahead.  Recall that hope is actually a virtue that comes to us as a gift from Heaven by means of our Baptism, and then perhaps we will finally see that Hope is fighting for us! 

Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe and Mother of Hope, pray for us – for the healing of our hearts, the strengthening of our families in holiness, and for the renewal of the Body of Christ here on earth as it is in Heaven!  Amen.