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Introduction to March's Issue:

Rev. Mark Connolly

One of the most difficult virtues to cultivate is the virtue of hope. Each day the news we hear is more tragic than the preceding day. Radio and television constantly bring us a diet of negative imprints and this, joined with some of the adverse experiences in our personal and family life, makes this virtue we call hope more elusive with each passing day.

Editing SFTIf you really are going to learn how to acquire and cultivate hope you really have to make Christ a daily reality in your life. When his apostle Peter denied him there was always hope in his heart that Peter would return. When his apostle Thomas doubted there was always hope in the heart of Christ that his doubts could be changed. When his apostle Judas betrayed him there was always hope that Judas would have a change of heart. And Judas did. He confessed that he sinned in betraying innocent blood.

Hope is that quality that Erick Ericson speaks about when he says that no matter how many failures you have, no matter what hangups you have, each one is given a second chance to make life better for yourself and those in your life. Hope is that quality that men like Victor Frankel speak about. He says, "look, I don't care if you have cancer. I don't care if your marriage is on the rocks. As long as you look for a meaning to live, you will find the means to live life." In his work on logotherapy there was no life that could be lived unless it was grounded in hope.

If there is any organization that has learned the value of hope it is the Catholic Church. The tragedy, the so called hopelessness of Good Friday, has been replayed in the triumph of Easter Sunday all throughout the history of the Catholic Church. Liberals and conservatives, enemies within and outside the Church, religious wars, scandals, all have been part of the fabric of the Church - but because people in every country and civilization have imitated the hope taught by Christ during his suffering - the Church continues to grow and flourish. It too had to be grounded in hope.

Today we have a Catholic Church that is going through different kinds of assaults and attacks. And the Church will continue to flourish as it has during the era when problems of the past seemed insurmountable. If you study the writings of Karl Jüng you might recall he was always talking of mankind's "collective unconscious." And I think in "collective unconscious" you will find Catholics who collectively believed in leaving the Church a better place than they found it. Their hope was their strength in achieving this. No matter what the problems or the time, Catholics, baptized in Christ, brought from their own minds and souls the hope that helped them surmount the insurmountable.

And even though it sounds contradictory, all of us have benefited from the tragedies of others. From out of the deafness of a Beethoven came some of his most beautiful symphonies. From out of the blindness of a Thomas Braille came new methods of reading that have given so much hope to almost five million people. From out of the deafness of a Thomas Edison have come new concepts in stereo. From out of a family that experienced polio came the Salk vaccine. From out of the death, the tragedy of Good Friday, came the victory of Christ on Easter Sunday. The history of the Church is one of hope. The story of St. Monica praying for almost 20 years for her son St. Augustine is a story of hope that is repeated in the lives of millions of Catholics. The search for personal hope must never stop. It gives meaning to the unresolved things in our life, always reminding us that God never permits something tragic to happen unless there is a good that is to come from it.

St. Paul had this same kind of hope in mind when he said if anyone should ask you to give an account of the hope you cherish, be ready at all times to answer it with courtesy and with due reverence.

God to enfold me
God to surround me

God in my speaking
God in my thinking

God in my sleeping
God in my waking
God in my watching
God in my hoping.

God in my life
God on my lips
God in my soul
God in my heart.

God in my sufficing
God in my slumber

God in mine ever-lasting soul
God in mine eternity.

-early Celtic prayer

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