Benedict XVI and the Virtue of Hope

Look at what the Holy Spirit has given us; a vibrant religious sensitivity, generosity, and many other gifts which need to be shared.
by Amelie Torre | Source: Catholic.net

 G. K. Chesterton once wrote that ‘hope is as unreasonable as it is indispensable.’ This is not to say that hope goes against reason, but beyond it; it supersedes the conclusions which the intellect draws up with something more intuitive and essential, something that comes from the very heart of God. This is the message that Pope Benedict XVI wanted to give to this country; Christ is our real hope, and it will seem unreasonable to those who have fallen prey to the dictatorship of relativism. But Christ is indispensable; he speaks to the mind and the heart. He seeks out the whole person and he demands the loving commitment of the whole person. If Catholics really take the Pope’s message to heart, they will no longer suffer an identity crisis or crumble under accusations. After all, is it really unreasonable to think that the Church in this country can recover from the grave sins of its clergy and laity, from indifference, relativism or a lack of vocations? Even a cursory glance at Church history should be grounds for encouragement. Of course the Church in America can bounce back from all this. But we need to understand her from within, as the Holy Father reminded us.

 In his homily at St. Patrick’s cathedral in New York, Pope Benedict offered us the image of stained glass windows, which appear dark from the outside but are illuminated from within. This is the mystery of the Church as a whole and America in particular. To look on from the outside, with the intellect only, is to see all the problems and obstacles. But to consider the Church from within, to see the reality with the heart as well as the head, is to see the glory which comes from God alone. He is urging us to look at what the Holy Spirit has given us; a vibrant religious sensitivity, generosity, and many other gifts which need to be shared. Why is it that in this country a separation of Church and state has led to a free expression of religious sentiment and not to a total withdrawal of religion from the public arena? Not all religious ideas and expressions are the same or even valid, but there is something Pope Benedict sees at work in the United States that is missing in Europe. We need to definitively reaffirm our own Christian identity to really become an effective agent of change in the world.

 The huge question is this; will Catholics in this country respond to Pope Benedict’s message? If the enthusiasm from all the youth at St. Joseph’s seminary in Dunwoodie Park is any indicator, the answer would be a resounding ‘yes.’ Catholics cannot be afraid anymore of being truly Catholic; we need to pray, to return to the sacraments, and to share the joy of knowing Christ with others. And the choice is up to each one of us. The Pope has laid down the challenge and it remains to us to take it up. If we believe that the truth exists on the level of ideas only, then we will adjust it to suit our whims. If we believe that the truth is not an idea but a Person to be loved, then we have real reasons for our hope which are indispensable.


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